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    Jun 2009
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    Default 12 British-Asian Actors Join Akshay Kumar In Mumbai

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    Nikhil Advani's film 'Patiala House' on cross-generation cultural assimilation among the Sikh community of Great Briton is getting more and more seriously authentic. Now Nikhil has hired 12 professional young British-Asian actors who joined Akshay Kumar for the long schedule in Mumbai this month. They will play the third generation of Sikhs in Britain.

    Some time ago Nikhil flew to London to shoot scenes in the much-revered Southall Gurdwara and to meet Sikh elders there. Cameras are not allowed in the Gurdwara. But once the Southall Gurdwara committees heard the idea behind 'Patiala House' and that two of the most beloved Punjabi actors Rishi Kapoor and Akshay Kumar will feature in the saga, the Sikh elders of Southall were all for the project.

    Says Nikhil, "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 elder at the Gurdwara had lived through the infamous Southall racial riots of 1979 where my film is partially set. 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," says Advani.

    Even while the set depicting the streets and homes from the Asia-centric Southall area of London are being constructed in Film City, director Nikhil Advani has managed to get visas for 12 young British Asian actors, chosen 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 the last many months.

    "There are 7 boys and 5 girls all between the ages 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."

    Nikhil has been at the job to the minutest details. "All the details of their schedules have been worked out like their hotel accommodations, transport dinner engagements, etc. They start shooting on 21 December and keep shooting right up to 4 February. Hopefully, with no interruptions."

    At heart, says Nikhil, 'Patiala House' is a father-son story. "Like 'Billy Elliot' where the father is a coal miner, but the son wants to be 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 Sardar ji 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 sardar."


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