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12-31-2009, 12:59 AM #1
My movie reopens old wounds: Nikhil Advani
Director Nikhil Advani says his next movie 'Patiala House', about cross-generation cultural assimilation among the Sikh community in Britain, is partially based on the infamous Southall racial riots of 1979 and is like reopening old wounds.
Advani shot a few scenes in the much-revered Southall Gurdwara of London. Cameras are not usually allowed there, but once the Southall Gurdwara committees heard the idea behind the film and that Rishi Kapoor and Akshay Kumar would feature in it, they were all for the project.
"They just threw open the doors of the Gurdwara and offered to help in every way to make 'Patiala House' authentic. Many of the Sikh elders at the Gurdwara had lived through the infamous Southall racial riots of 1979 where my film is partially set," Advani, who made it big in filmdom with "Kal Ho Naa Ho" (2003), told IANS.
"When I narrated my theme to them, they had tears in their eyes. 'Patiala House' is like old wounds being re-opened for them. But it's a story that must be told."
But at heart, says Advani, "Patiala House" is a father-son story.
"Like 'Billy Eliott' where the father is a coal miner but the son wants to be a dancer. In my film, Rishi Kapoor feels his dreams as a Sikh immigrant in England are being destroyed by his son. But the son Akshay Kumar has his own dreams to pursue."
The director fears the minute people hear Akshay plays a Sardarji, they will presume "Patiala House" is another "Singh Is Kinng".
"But my film has nothing in common with 'Singh Is Kinng'. Akshay is a sardar, but a mona (shaven) sardar."
Advani, whose last film "Chandni Chowk To China" tanked at the box office, is stressing on authenticity and has hired 12 professional young British-Asian actors to work with Akshay as third generation Sikhs in Britain.
"There are seven boys and five girls all between the age of 16 and 30. We deliberately kept the lower age-limit at 16 because any younger British-Asian actors would've meant special permissions and visas for parents. Out there they are very particular about the permissible age for working," he said.
Advani chose 12 actors after auditioning nearly 60 candidates to play third-generation Sikhs from a family in Southall. The director has been working on their visas and other details for quite some time and took care of the minutest details.
"All the details of their schedules have been worked out. Their hotel accommodations, transport, dinner, engagements etc. They started shooting December 21 and will keep shooting right up to February 4. Hopefully, no interruptions," he said.
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