Washington, Dec 27 – It’s a Bollywood film complete with an item number, but it’s made by Indian Americans for the desi crowd at home and abroad and touted as the first Hindi film shot entirely in Washington.
Called ‘9 Eleven’, ‘it has nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks’, says young filmmaker Manan Singh Katohora, who describes it as a fast-paced thriller with an ‘undertone of terrorism – it’s about characters and about life decisions.’
Made under the banner of Amar Durga Films, the feature-length film now in the post-production stage is set for release in North America and in South Asia in June.
Set in Mumbai, the film portrays the life of 10 people from different walks of life thrown together in an unfamiliar place and terrorised to the core by an unknown entity. ‘I really can’t give too much away about the plot, but the title is crucial to the story,’ Katohora says mysteriously, declining to reveal more.
Katohora, whose previous films include ‘Arya’ (2003), a psychological thriller, and ‘When Kiran Met Karen’ (2008) ‘a controversial cross-cultural lesbian film’, both in English, says he chose to make the film in Hindi because the screenplay so demanded.
There are no big stars, but each of over a dozen Indian American actors has some acting experience taking part in an odd play or a TV commercial while doing their day-to-day jobs as architect to journalist to information technology professionals.
Only Nikkitasha Marwaha, who plays the key character of the item-girl, is an actress, model and dancer. She is Washington’s Miss India Worldwide 2009 and US national winner of Sony TV’s ‘Boogie Woogie’ dance competition and a top 10 finalist of Zee TV’s ‘Dance India Dance’ reality show.
All of them had to brush up their Hindi shedding their American accents through multiple rehearsals with the help of chief assistant director Roli Chaturvedi.
‘Now, I can say their Hindi is second to none,’ says Devasish Ray, a TV journalist and filmmaker, who has dabbled into acting for the first time.
But the music for the film has been set by Bollywood’s Jatin Pandit, who shot into prominence with the sound track of ‘Khiladi’ and ‘Pehla Nasha’, a romantic song from ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander.’
Pandit, who recorded the music for the film online from his studio in Mumbai, is excited about this venture. ‘They are all so talented and have so much energy,’ he says. ‘I am so charged by the energy and enthusiasm that I feel like a new music composer. The lyrics for the item number, the sole song in the film, are by Sanjay Chhel, lyrics writer of films like ‘Rangeela’, ‘Daud’, ‘Yes Boss’ and ‘Jo Bole So Nihal’.’
All the ingredients of a Bollywood ‘masala’ are there, but only time will tell whether this desi flick cooked in the US would sell.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)