NRG with Kutchi origins directs Hollywood film
AHMEDABAD: He could well be the first Gujarati director to make it to Hollywood. Nayan Padrai who has his origins in Kutch, having settled in the US since he was nine, will be making his debut into films with English romantic comedy When Harry Tries To Marry' which is shot in Mandvi and Bhuj in Kutch and New York. The film is due for release soon.
Although it sounds like an American romantic comedy of the 60s When Harry Met Sally', this film is about Harry or Harish, who belongs to a royal family in Gujarat. The 22-year-old rich handsome boy is about to graduate from a college in New York and is determined not to get involved in a love marriage that will leave him bitterly divorced like his parents.
Against everyone's advice, he decides to opt for an arranged marriage with an eligible young woman from India and eventually finds the perfect Indian girl, a Gujarati, who loves children and animals.
But, just as he reaches India for the wedding he realises his friendship with an American girl has become something deeper. The lead roles are played by Rahul Rai and Freisha Bomanbehram, a television and film actor.
Proud of his Kutchi origins, Padrai told TOI over the phone, "We decided to look for locations in Gujarat and found Mandvi to be the best because of its exotic locales. The shooting took place at Vijay Vilas Palace and Mandvi beach."
Padrai thinks it was dancing to Amitabh Bachchan's songs as a kid that led him to films. In high school, he enrolled for drama classes and eventually went to School of Visual Arts in New York. "Back then, there were no real meaty roles for young south Asians, so I thought of writing a script and almost 10 years later, I am directing that film," he said. The script has already won awards in many competitions.
Padrai started writing it in 1998 with Ralph Stein. "I was taking a lot of acting workshops so the script was shaped with performances in mind, witty dialogue and hopefully a genuine take on love," he added.
The project made rounds in Hollywood, but they had one caveat the script would not be sold. "It was something I wanted to make," he said. Last year on his birthday on January 8, he quit his job and began work on the film. The team comprises Sheetal Vyas from Vadodara, Ritu Ahuja, Bhushan Thakkar also from Kutch, Mike Sledd and several other key advisors, besides assistant director Mehul Mittra who also has his roots in Gujarat.