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Over the last couple of years we have witnessed so many new directors coming up with fresh movies about Desis. "A good way to learn about yourself is to laugh at yourself," is what a director once told me. We've been blessed with this logic by Piyush Pandya's American Desi, and Anurag Mehta's American Chai. Now we must make way for Manish Gupta, whose "Indian Fish in American Waters" is set to hit the market with full force. Gupta has done several short films in NYC; this is his first major film. It stars Raj Vasudeva, a DesiClub native.
Peta Cooper: What's Indian Fish about?
Manish Gupta: Indian Fish is a classy comedy - about the first and second generation Indians living in the US. This is a comedy of errors - there is everyday truth of our Desi lives that none of us can deny - it pinches us sometimes but most often makes us laugh. There are no parents wanting to make their children doctors nor do we have naive Fobs. So expect something fresh!
PC: Was the audition an open audition?
MG: Oh yeah, we advertised on-line and in print medium. Our lead actress Shweta is from NYC, lead actor Raj Vasudeva from San Francisco. We have an Albanian actress and an Argentinean actor too along with Americans and Indians.
PC: While making this film, have you faced any difficulties?
MG: Any? What a roller coaster it was - but fun. This is what movie making is all about - you get yourself a challenge and solve it. Low budget film-making is even more challenging but nothing that our strong team couldn't take care of. 80-90% of the low-budget films start off okay but never really come out. Fortunately, we didn't really have to make any serious compromises that affected the film. So I do have our vision totally translated into film.
"...Bollywood is mostly confined to limited quarters."
PC: When will the film be coming out?
MG: Film should be out by the year-end, and then I'm participating in film festivals all over the globe. We are also showing in India in mid-November as work in progress category.
PC: How do you think the audience will react to Indian Fish?
MG: The reason to make Indian Fish is to entertain, to make them laugh and relate to it. All age groups will find themselves in the movie and will be able to relate to the story line. If you are born here or you have come from India you'll be able to relate.
PC: Will this be released in mainstream theaters or select Indian theaters?
MG: Someone has told me that Miramax has heard about Indian Fish - which is good news. If nothing works out there then selected Indian theaters is the way to go to get to 4 million plus Desis in the US. Later we have India, Canada and UK in mind along with the festival circuit.
PC: As far as making films, what sort of personal goals have you set for yourself?
MG: In the first quarter of next year I am starting my next project. I have another short called Raison D'etre that's going to participate in a few film-festivals in the US and Europe this year. I'd like to make experimental variety shorts early next year but these three movies will decide my fate if I have to remain a filmmaker or go flip burgers somewhere.
PC: In music, filmmaking, and acting we have seen a lot of new South Asian talent, as a South Asian how does that make you feel?
MG: I am a proud Desi and feel that we Desis could have a better presence in mainstream America, such as movies, music or anything else. With lots of South Asians coming into non-traditional arena is good news for everyone in the community. Personally, I found hugely capable South Asian talent helping me with the movie. It was probably not possible if new South Asian talent didn't hit the mark.
PC: What are your opinions about Bollywood in contrast to Hollywood?
MG: In the seventies, the parallel cinema movement in India brought Indian industry at par with the world cinema. Slowly it has disappeared mostly because of the economics that drives the industry and not the film making talent.
Yet the biggest contrast is that Hollywood makes films for the whole world and Bollywood is mostly confined to limited quarters. This may be one of the reasons why they are going into losses. So even if not by choice, they WILL have to think of new frontiers and new cinema that is more universal in appeal like Monsoon Wedding. The key is a good script and unlike Hollywood, the scriptwriter is the least respected entity in Bollywood.
PC: From a Bollywood point of view do you think its time for them to make movies that don't always revolve around love?
MG: India makes about 800 feature films every year and you are right most of them are 'song and dance and sick mom and loud comedian' movies but now the trend has to change as the audience is getting smarter and more demanding - this is why love stories are not doing so well in India - Mujhse Dosti Karoge went down for the same reason and the success of very well made movies like Company, Chandhi Bar and Monsoon Wedding is up.
PC: What sort of advice would you give someone who wants to break into show business?
MG: Please come in whole heartedly - there is enough room for us all. Soon we are very much going to be mainstream while still retaining the Desi market. Get your inspiration from the likes of M. Knight Shyamlan, Mira Nair and Shekhar Kapoor. For any specific questions feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
PC: In the future what can we expect from Manish Gupta?
MG: Surely some more entertaining films.
PC: What would you like to say to the readers on DesiClub.com?
MG: DesiClub.com has put juice in our otherwise mundane lives - I always find my parties here. Check out Indian fish. Wish you all love, peace, end of terrorism and the end to bad economy!!
Check out more at www.IndianFish-themovie.com.
Do you have any thoughts on this? Feel free to send Peta an e-mail @ Peta Cooper.