Shroff will play the late Indian musician Joseph Manuel Da Rocha, known as Slow Joe, a former heroin addict and drug dealer who was born in Mumbai, was disowned by his family, heartbroken at 50 and who moved to Goa and cleaned up. On a trip to Goa in 2007, Lyon-based French musician Cédric de la Chapelle met Joe, now a frail 64-year-old who was making ends meet as a hotel room broker. Joe, also a poet and musician, sang for de la Chapelle, who was captivated by his voice and recorded some of his a cappella songs.
Back in France, de la Chapelle played Joe’s songs for music producer Olivier Boccon-Gibod of Horizon Musiques, who was also entranced. Over trips to Goa, de la Chapelle and Joe set up the music group Slow Joe & The Ginger Accident. The songs arranged by the group were played for Jean-Louis Brossard, director of the Transmusicales, one of the biggest French music festivals, at Rennes. As a result, Joe went to France and the group performed at the 2009 Transmusicales, which was a big success.
In 2011, Slow Joe & The Ginger Accident released their first album “Sunny Side Up,” and the success of the album was reflected by a sell-out tour of France, followed by Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium and India. In 2014, when Joe was 71, a second album, “Lost for Love,” was released to critical acclaim. By early 2016, the group had performed at over 250 concerts. In May 2016, when Joe was 73, he had a fatal heart attack. “Let Me Be Gone,” the group’s third album was released posthumously, in Feb. 2017.
The project will be an English, French and Konkani language biopic produced by Sreyashii Sengupta for Darpan Global (Singapore) and co-produced by de la Chapelle and Boccon-Gibod for Horizon (France). Olivier Rohde, who has production manager credits on French blockbusters “The Intouchables” and “Heartbreaker,” will serve as executive producer via his company Filming France alongside Souvikk Dasgupta for Oriizon Global (India). The project is seeking another French co-producer and is looking to attach a French director.
Shroff said: “Slow Joe was the humblest of men but he was the richest: he made freedom his treasure. He is an extraordinary and inspiring character, and his music and life lived, immediately touched my heart.”
Sengupta said: “A film like Slow Joe comes once in a lifetime just like the man himself. While I never met Joe, as I’ve delved into his life through the experiences of Olivier and Cedric I have grown to love and adore a man who was one with the Universe. Uninhibited and with an intensity that can engulf the senses through his life and his voice. I am positive this film will be a winner across borders just like Joe was.”
De la Chapelle said: “The first time I met Slow Joe in Goa in 2007, I wanted to introduce him to all my friends. This movie is about bringing the amazing man he was to the world.”
Boccon-Gibod commented: “Slow Joe was a gift to all who knew him. I was lucky to produce his music. Now we want to share his strong presence and soul with everyone through the film. And this international collaboration, led by Darpan Global in Singapore, is the apt symbol for a man who has always been borderless.”
Rohde said: “As the French executive producer for such an empathetic film like ‘Slow Joe’ I see it as a chance and positive challenge just like I did for ‘The Intouchables’ and ‘Heartbreaker.’”
Dasgupta added: “Slow Joe touched hearts and so will the film. One of the most moving stories that travels from India to France through music and about a man who just wanted to sing through his soul. Such a film was just waiting to be made, especially now when the world needs stories of hope and positivism.”