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Jesus Christ gets an evil twin in fantasy film

PANAJI, India (Reuters) - There’s no mention of him in the Bible but the plot of a fantasy film set in India gives Jesus Christ a twin brother -- and an evil one at that.

German filmmaker Robert Sigl’s “The 13th Disciple” is still in the planning stage but producer Mario Stefan is in Goa trying to attract an Indian co-producer for the project.

“It’s a fantasy-adventure film and takes place completely in present-day India,” Stefan said on the sidelines of the 38th International Film Festival of India, which opened over the weekend.

The story traces the journey of two German archaeologists looking for evidence that Jesus visited India.

The researchers, who are twins themselves, find that Jesus had an evil twin brother who is reincarnated in the present as the scheming head of a religious sect.

Sigl’s script had been lying around for several years after the original producer died in an accident, Stefan said.

Filming for the project, expected to cost about 5 million euros ($7.4 million), will take place mainly in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi and Kerala in the second half of next year.

The cast of the film will be mostly Indian.

Stefan said he didn’t expect any controversy over “The 13th Disciple” which will have Jesus Christ only in the background and not as a character.

“It will be made clear from the beginning of our film that it’s fiction,” he said. “Even the ‘Da Vinci Code’ was fiction but there was a lot based on real ideas.”

The ‘Da Vinci Code’, based on Dan Brown’s bestselling novel, angered the Catholic community as it is based on the theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and had children.

The film was banned in several Indian states before being released with the disclaimer that it was a work of fiction.

Christians account for around 2.5 percent of officially secular but mainly Hindu India’s 1.1-billion population.

“If you deal with religious themes, you have to be prepared and also (careful) that you do not hurt any feelings,” said Stefan. “Our film is not based on true events nor is it giving any religious message.”