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"A Bihari marrying a Mumbaikar isn't crossover cinema?"

Courtesy: IndiaFM
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Writer and Director Varun Khanna started his professional acting career at the age of 12 and was named the youngest professional director in India at age 17 with his critically acclaimed production of Peter Shaffer's Equus. He was chosen as one of three upcoming directors in the US during a national search by The Drama League of New York. He spoke to IndiaFM about his international film American Blend which is all set to hit the screens this Friday.

What is the film all about? American Blend is about a celebration of two diverse cultures - India and America, two of the world's largest democracies. It is not just a blend of cultures but of cinemas as well. It is a tribute to the beautiful city of Los Angeles. L.A has a lot of different cultures but a lot of harmony as well. The people over there are full of goodness and acceptance and it is really a wonderful place to be.

What is your target audience for this film? In India, it is for anybody who feels good about life. There are the landscapes of Yash Chopra and it is a total family film with music, dance and food. In the worldwide scenario, I wished to celebrate the goodness of people and I believe it is a global family film.

How did you zero in on Anupam Kher for the film? Is it because he has done many crossover films earlier like Bend it like Beckham, Bride and Prejudice and Mistress of Spices?
I didn't choose Anupam Kher because of the movies you mentioned but because of his performance in Saaransh. I left Mumbai 19 years ago but his performance of a troubled soul always stayed with me. His presence always was with me. In Bend it like Beckham, he was playing an Indian in an Indian family but in American Blend he is an Indian in an American family. He is a passionate person and his character is the same as well. Along with that he was a thorough professional and my instinct of casting him was right on.

How come you chose Dee Wallace for your film? In the west she is more known as a heroine who stars mostly in horror films which is contrary to what you are offering in you film.
I knew Dee Wallace as the actor from Spielberg's E.T. Actor Carl Darchuck who was in my first film Beyond Honor introduced me to her and we met for breakfast at L.A. Her energy as a human being was just like Jamie, her character in American Blend. Carl casually mentioned about my new script and she asked for a copy. Immediately the next day she agreed to do the role. This was before most of the script was even finalized, not even Anupam Kher. She phoned up her agent specially and told him not to give me a hard time and that she was doing the film no matter what.

Will you call this an NRI film or a crossover film?
Neither! If a Bihari came to Bombay and married a Mumbaikar, would you call that a crossover film? American Blend is an American film. It celebrates America. David Oyelowo is such a good talent from America as is Ranjit Choudhary. Ranjit is brilliant and India truly has lost someone great when he decided to move out.

Has the film released all over or will India be the first place?
India will be the first place.

Like you said music is an integral part of the film.
It is an integral part. I wanted to have Hip-Hop, Punjabi, Bhangra, etc. and music director Abu Malik has done a good job out of it. This is his debut as a music composer. Initially he had some problems in setting things right but in the end he did a wonderful job. I chose American Kevin Saunders Hayes to do the background music or I would rather call it the emotion of the film. He too didn't let me down.

Why so low key promotions for the film?
You will have to ask this to the producers.

Your next movie is 400049? Will it have an Indian or American setting?
I am trained in Hindi theatre. I love the Hindi language and I wanted to make a film in Hindi. I am an Indian as much as an American. I take walks on Marine Drive and do the same things just as any other Indian. I want to capture the Indian experience in my next film. This film is set in Juhu (a suburban place in Mumbai). This film will deal with corruption, bribery, violence and the everyday fears faced by Indians. There are 13 roads on 400049 and each will show the affluence and poverty of the place. It will be a commercial Hindi film and I believe that the crux will be the Indian ideology. We have great scriptures and this film will be meant for Indians.

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