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"Everywhere At Once" isn't only the name of Lyrics Born's latest album, it's a snapshot of his expanding career, circa 2008. Asia Pacific Arts speaks with the multi-talented performer.
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Wearing multiple hats in his debut film Loins of Punjab Presents, director, writer, producer, and actor Manish Acharya sits down with APA in a quick interview at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.
Asia Pacific Arts: What is your background, and how did you get into filmmaking?
Manish Acharya: I majored in Physics and Computer Science. After that, I was one of the founding members of a software company, and we took it public, blah blah blah. And then I was thinking "What next?" Either I keep on doing what I was doing -- something in a start-up -- or stay with a company that we took public. But instead, I decided to go to film school. I actually only applied to a couple of film schools, and NYU was one of them and I got in, I went there, and this is my first film. That was the trajectory. I always wanted to make movies, but I never said it to myself. And it was just later that I realized that's what I wanted to do. Once I actually decided, it came like the most obvious thing.
APA: In your film, you have a lot of cross-cultural humor. How did you weave this into your film, and what was the process?
MA: I didn't try to weave any cross-cultural humor as much as I think my humor is cross-cultural, so in some ways that's where it came from. My co-writer is also of Indian descent and has lived in the U.S. and worked in the U.S., so I think all of the cultural stuff comes from there. I think we wrote something that we thought was amusing and funny, and we just hoped that other people did too. But you know, some people could be offended by some of the stuff we've done. But in general, we meant it not in a mean way. And I'm very glad this has been accepted in that way because it could have been accepted the other way. But I'm glad that it comes through in the humor that it is not mean-spirited.
APA: Did you do any research for the film?
MA: Not really. I've been to a couple of these stage shows and competitions, and I always find it funny because you always have these roles, where some of them are quibbling amongst themselves, these backstage shenanigans. I was kind of going with, not actually research, but our memories of stuff like that. We chose the name Desi Idol obviously because of the "American Idol" and the "Indian Idol" and stuff that was happening at that time, but it's not really a TV show, so we were taking off on that.
APA: Who did you think the audience watching this film would be?
MA: I always thought that the people who would be most interested, would be what I call, "global citizens" between the ages of 22-35. Interestingly, the more I've studied this, I think I'm wrong. The "global citizen" part is right, but the age thing skews even older where it goes from 22 to like 65.
APA: What was it like putting yourself into this film, being the director, the writer, and the star?
MA: I didn't intend to act in the film. We were actually auditioning other actors to be in the film, and we just didn't find the right "Vikram Tejwani." And I would keep acting out parts for my casting director, and finally he said, "Well, why don't you just do it." And I didn't want to, because I really didn't want to take on one more challenge. But then I thought if I be Vikram, it will be the Vikram I want.
APA: Did you come across ay challenges?
MA: I think so. You're exercising a different set of muscles. Because acting is very much -- you sometimes go deep into one character. And at the directing level, there's so many things to think about that you kind of have to go deep, but you're not going as deep as an actor. It's a give and take. There's a million things to think about, not just the character.
APA: What do you think about Bollywood that fascinates Western audiences?
MA: I think it wears its emotions on its sleeves. And I think it's something that is new and almost innocent. And I think the thing that attracts them about it is the sense of innocence. Where, if someone loves someone, it's not this long time lapse. It's more like, if love you, I want to sing a song for you, and I want to sing five songs for you, and I'm going to change clothes, and I'm going to jump around in a tree, something like that. But in the end, I know that Bollywood would never catch on, because it is a little too exotic. But I do believe that elements of Bollywood can, are, and should make its way into a Western audience.
APA: Watching the film, it seemed like the characters were speaking to different audiences.
MA: But when we wrote it, we just picked characters that we thought would take part in this competition. But we wanted to make sure that they were characters that people would like, or else they wouldn't be interesting. So in that way, we kind of had a wide spectrum of these characters.
APA: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
MA: The script that I'm working on now is a comic thriller set in Tokyo and Bombay. We're writing it right now, so we're hoping to shoot it at the end of the year.
Date Posted: 5/30/2008