Jaipur lad brewing a Bollywood-spiced Hollywood comedy

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Sunday, December 19, 2010

WASHINGTON - Taking a leaf out of Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire” director Danny Boyle’s book, a young Indian filmmaker in the US has set out to make a Hollywood film with a Bollywood flavour. “Rajiv Meets Rachel” is planned as a romantic comedy about an Indian boy who meets and falls in love with an American girl in New York.

But Jaipur-born Naman Goyal, who discovered his true calling while studying computer engineering in his home town, isn’t too fond of the term ‘Bollywood-crossover’.

“The film very much fits in the genre of Hollywood romantic comedy. Though, it has a careful flavour of Bollywood filmmaking,” Goyal told IANS from New York, where he has been making short films for two years while working as junior faculty at the New York Film Academy.

Fascinated as he was by the dating system of the West that is so different from its Indian equivalent, he chose this theme because: “I felt that there really was no proper love story made between an Indian guy and an American girl.”

Goyal, who believes one of the main reasons for the success of “Slumdog Millionaire” was the publicity surrounding the song “Jai Ho”, is planning a similar strategy with two songs sequences, one of them complete with Bollywood-style dress changes and background dancers keeping the lead couple company in New York’s Central Park.

But he insists this “ties in perfectly with the main story line” and “all of this is completely an essential part of the script and nowhere compromises the continuity of the narrative.”

Goyal says he chose to come to America to learn the art of filmmaking instead of Mumbai because “I have always been influenced by the way Hollywood films were made and the way they were executed.”

“I thought that learning the American way of filmmaking would be very fascinating and would also give me an edge because of the consideration one gets, if one comes back to Bollywood,” he adds disarmingly.

Goyal, whose short film “The Beginning to Get Bald” recently won the “Audience choice - Blockbuster” award in the online Mini Box Office film festival, has already made a dry run for the big one with another short, “An Affair with New York”.

Given the success of his “Affair” on the film festival circuit, including a best film critic award at the Jaipur International Film Festival, Goyal is confident that “Rajiv Meets Rachel” will be an instant catch for the American audience.

“The film targets the global English speaking audience and not just NRI population,” he says, stressing “It’s very unique in its story and is not based on the Indian Americans.”

“It gives an underlining message that all cultures of the world have positive and negative aspects and its up-to an individual to pick up the best things.”

Ninety to ninety-five percent of the film will be in English with some sequences in Hindi. Sixty percent of the movie will be shot in New York City and places around it. The rest of the movie will be shot in the culturally-rich heritage state of Rajasthan.

Planning to shoot the film in July-August 2011, Goyal’s team is now trying to rope in a top Hollywood actress and an A-list Bollywood hero to play Rachel and Rajiv before he calls - light, camera, action.

But one day perhaps he would want to return to India to make a Bollywood film, for: “I love both Indian and American films.”

“Shah Rukh Khan and Tom Hanks have inspired me to live making cinema,” he says. “I want to make films for both audiences separately, keeping in mind that when I mix the two styles, I mix them carefully.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

will not be displayed