Tina Turner will play goddess for Merchant-Ivory. The R&B legend is coming out of semi-retirement to play a Hindu deity in ''The Goddess''

By Gary Susman
Updated February 15, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: Tina Turner: AFP PHOTO/Vikas KHOT/NewsCom

You better be good to Tina Turner — after all, she’s a goddess. At least, she’ll be playing one onscreen in ”The Goddess,” a new movie from the Merchant Ivory team (”A Room With a View,” ”Le Divorce”) that Ismail Merchant is about to direct in his native India. The role marks Turner’s first major film role in the nearly 20 years since ”Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” (1985) and the 64-year-old R&B legend’s first big project since her farewell tour four years ago.

Turner and Merchant greeted fans and the press on Monday at a hotel in Bombay. ”I think Ismail chose me because of my shakti [strength] within,” said Turner, a Buddhist, to the Times of India. ”I’m special in that I’ve had a long run and I’m still here.” Merchant said she’d been practicing Indian classical music with Zakir Hussain, master of the Indian tabla drums, and that she would be singing in Latin and Sanskrit in the movie.

EW broke the news of Turner’s casting in the project last August. At the time, Merchant’s partner James Ivory described Turner’s role as Kali, ”one of the main Hindu goddesses, sort of a recycler of souls, a destroyer as well as a creator who wears a necklace of men’s skulls.” Also, Ivory said, she gets to sing and dance on the back of a tiger. This already sounds way better than ”Le Divorce.”