| PICTURE SPEAK |
|WESTWARD BOUND: Sen and Hooda |
It's the season of crossovers. First Aishwarya Rai talked about it. Then Salman Khan tried to do it. Now long-time Rai rival Sushmita Sen is following suit, in an Indo-US production with a mouthful of a name, Karma Confessions and Holi.
The Rs 20 crore ensemble movie which stars Sen and real life boyfriend Randeep Hooda (who has done the crossing over with Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding) will be produced by Robert De Niro's adopted daughter, actor Drena, and Kolkata-based RPG Enterprises. To be shot in Princeton, US, the film will star extra-bratty supermodel Naomi Campbell and perhaps Hollywood's resident weirdo Christopher Walken. It also has Suresh Oberoi, now better known as Vivek's father, Rati Agnihotri, singer-actor Suchitra Krishnamurthy who has become more visible after My Wife's Murder, and the forever-visible item girl Deepal Shaw, who plays Sen's sister. Then there is rapper-actor Sticky Fingaz and some Indian-Americans.
The movie starts shooting this week and Sen, with her usual ebullience, insists the script was "fabulous" enough for her to stir out of her self-imposed hiatus every year. "I work six months a year and the other six I keep for my daughter Renee," she says. Over two years ago, when RPG decided to make films in Mumbai, they hadn't thought of going this far. "Our foray into Bollywood happened chiefly because we were paying a bomb for music rights. So we thought, why not make films ourselves?" says Sanjiv Goenka, RPG vice-chairman.
That was the time when films like Bend It Like Beckham were making it big. Diasporic filmmakers were coming up by the dozen. And Bollywood mainstream actors were making it to the Cannes jury. Goenka and RPG ceo Harish Dayani thought India International was where money lay. They invited scripts from Indian filmmakers in the US and zeroed in on one by a young director called Manish Gupta. Gupta, an alumnus of the New York Film Academy, who had an NRI film called Indian Fish in American Waters to his credit.
But Saregama did not want a typical fresh-off-the-boat film. "We wanted an international film with Hollywood featuring as prominently as Bollywood," says Dayani. Karma is a relationship drama set in the backdrop of the Indian festival Holi, where Sen and Hooda, an unhappily married couple, come together with their friends. It is time for confessions, to each other and to the world at large. If all goes well, Karma will premiere at the New York Film Festival next year.
Sen, who hasn't been able to repeat the sizzling success of Main Hoon Na, says she agreed to do the film because in her mind, she's a New York girl, having lived there in her Miss Universe days, and the 22-day shoot is like homecoming. Hooda confesses he is hoping to meet Robert De Niro in particular and America in general (he has never visited the US). So how is he going to portray a character living in the US for some time? "Americans may live in a different social set-up, but emotions are the same everywhere," he says. "After all, they also believe in Karma like us." That's a crossover sentiment.
-By Swagata Sen