Dev Patel has signed on to star in a true crime movie focusing on the rise and falls of 1980s male strip club, Chippendales. I, Tonya director Craig Gillespie is on board to helm the currently untitled project, and the Gillespie-Patel partnership has reportedly led to interest by several studios in the project.
Patel will portray Somen ‘Steve’ Banerjee, an Indian-American entrepreneur who bought a Los Angeles nightclub at the time called Destiny II, before transforming it into what would ultimately become Chippendales.
Banerjee co-founded the famous club with career grifter Paul Snider and attorney Bruce Nahin. Snider’s wife, Playboy model Dorothy Stratten, helped design the famous cuff and collar uniforms for the dancers.
Chippendales went on to become a multi-million dollar organisation in the 1980s, with revenue flowing in from club shows, calendar sales, and touring performances.
However, violence soon creeped in, with Snider killing Stratten in a murder-suicide in 1980 – the subject of Bob Fosse‘s Star 80 – while Banerjee became entangled in plots to kill two of his former partners and two former Chippendales dancers. He pleaded guilty to a number of charges in the early 1990s, but was found hanging in his jail cell on the morning of his sentencing in an apparent suicide.
It’s a crazy story, it would almost read cliché if it wasn’t so desperately real. If you’re thinking that it’s surprising Hollywood hasn’t turned this rise and fall story into a film already, well, it’s not for lack of trying. Ben Stiller was at one point on board to play a role, and multiple variations of the story have bounced around. It looks like this one might have the legs to actually get made.
This is a super role for Patel, a perennially underrated actor who will absolutely shine here. And whatever one thinks of I, Tonya – a pretty divisive film in some circles – this feels like a natural extension for Gillespie, as both that project and this one are both wild and very real stories of people caught up in their own success while the media watches on.
Patel will next be seen in David Lowery‘s intriguing-looking dark fantasy film The Green Knight, although the film is currently undated thanks to the pandemic. Gillespie recently wrapped production on Cruella, a live-action take on the classic Disney villain Cruella De Ville with Emma Stone in the titular role.