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    Kher, Ullal in <i>Gandhi Park</i>

    By Staff

    Tuesday, September 19, 2006
    Mumbai (UNI): Actor-producer Tom George Kolath, winner of the Best Feature National award and Indian Panorama award in 2004 for Malyalam film Akale At a distance, is all set to foray into Hollywood with his directorial debut Gandhi Park. Gandhi Park, starring Anupam Kher, Sneha Ullal, Brandon Sommers, Vikaas Kalantri, Sush Nayar among others is a contemporary, cross culture romantic comedy. At a press conference last night, Tom, announcing his film said it is a passionate love story and deals with the realities when an Indian girl falls in love with an Amercian boy. It is about the ensuing family tension, the inherent conflict of cultures, and the pressures of going against the family traditions that are set in stone.

    The film according to Tom aims to resonate with immigrants around the world as it grapples with their dilemma and struggle to reconcile their duality of existence. On one hand, they strive to conform to the customs and conventions of the adopted country and on the other, they wish to uphold their native culture, he added. The debutant director said, ''Gandhi Park is a story of every Indian and unlike many crossover films that subscribe to cultural stereotypes, it will bring Indian values and traditions to the limelight. I wanted to bring the beauty and ageless relevance of our heritage and values it international attention by making a movie based on them.'' About the film's title, he said, ''Gandhi Park is a place in downtown New York where the film's story begins and ends. People living outside India love their country more than the natives. I could not think of a better name''.

    Produced under the banner of Amerasia Pictures Corp by Dr Anil Paulose, the shooting for the film begins from today in Goa for three days, later in Delhi for another three-four days and finally a start to finish 75 days schedule in New York. The banner is independent production house based in New York. Gandhi Park is not just a name but symbol of peace and represented Asia for the global audience of his film, said Tom. He admitted that Aishwarya Rai was the first choice to play the female protagonist Priyanka, now being played by Sneha Ullal. ''Ash had date problems''. When asked whether he had cast Sneha because of her resemblence to the former beauty queen, Tom said, ''I did not give a thought to this resemblence. I just wanted a beautiful Indian girl who could take on the role''.

    Anupam Kher, who earlier starred in Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Mara, said the concept of Gandhism in movies was not a conscious effort. ''Jahanu Barua had the script of 'Maine Gandhi' for ten years before making a film while Tom had the script of Gandhi Park for the last two years. ''After independence, lot of movies were made on patriotism, values of life. The genre later shifted to violence, romance. Now, I think the time has come to go back to our roots culturally. Gandhi represents the Indian soul. I think based on this concept, stories will mushroom and depicted on silver screen'', he added.

    Speaking about the success of 'Gandhigiri' in Lage Raho Munnabhai, Anupam said the film proves that we have to change the language of teaching children. Audiences are tired of plastic things. Claiming Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Mara as his best performance to date, he said he has had high hopes from Khosla Ka Ghosla starring him and Boman Irani which was released after a delay. Asked whether he has apprehensions of working with new directors, Anupam said he loved the passion of a debutant filmmaker. ''I always chose to be associated with films where the director has lot of passion about his work'', he added. The actor will be seen in Apna Sapna Money Money, Vivah and Jaaneman.

    Anupam said he was working on a script for his second directorial venture. ''I am yet to decide on the title. It could be called Pyar Hai to Keh do yes or Happy and Gay. The film will go on floors from March or April next year'', he said adding that his acting school has been his biggest achievement so far. He was also looking forward to Ashok Pandit's Homeland. Filmmaker Mahesh Bhat who was present at the press conference said, ''These are unusual times for Indian cinema. We are on the throes of globalisation. It is sad that India has not recognized Gandhian principles. Gandhi is embodiment of life's asserting spirit. As India asserts herself, it is time we appreciate and live Gandhi'', he added.

    Meanwwhile, Anupam said Bhatt Sahaab had come to bless the film and revealed that he gives Rs 2,000 as gurudakshina to his ''godfather'' every year for introducing him to cinema 22 years ago with 'Saaransh'. Mahesh Bhat showing off the two notes of Rs 1,000 each said in a lighter vein that kickbacks had come to be the way of life. When Anupam wondered how much money he would have given his mentor so far, Bhat quickly said, ''close to five lakh rupees''.

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