US-based Indian filmmaker ready with first Hollywood release

June 17, 2009

New Delhi, Vizag-born Nagendra Karri went to the US to specialise in system security and finance, but filmmaking was what interested him most. Six years later, his creativity has blossomed into “Where Are You Sophia?”, a psychological thriller, that was screened at Cannes.

“I always wanted to be a filmmaker as such. I didn’t want to disappoint my mother so I had to settle down and finish my education first but simultaneously I was self-teaching myself in terms of the aspects of filmmaking,” Karri told IANS in an interview here.

Karri, 26, quit his California-based job of a financial analyst two years ago and shifted base to New York to launch his production house Eternal Mind Productions.

“Where Are You Sophia?”, slated for release Aug 14 in India, has already been screened at Tribeca Film, in New York City, a platform for new artists, and the recently concluded 62nd Cannes Film Festival.

Speaking about how he went about chasing his filmmaking dream, Karri says: “I had already been doing theatre since I was pursuing my masters in Oregon. I was also reading books, meeting people, attending seminars and workshops by Dov S-S Simens and Martin Scorsese in New York before taking on filmmaking fulltime.”

The film, set in the 1980s, is the story of a newspaper columnist Sophia from a rural town, who mysteriously disappears one day. She then keeps reappearing in a stranger’s life and takes him on an unravelled journey to the realms of the unknown.

Starring Amanda Boyd and Peter James Elias in the lead, Karri’s debut film is also slated to release Aug 14 in the US and South America and on Video-on-Demand (VoD) in Germany.

“In India, we are going only for a metro release mainly because the audience has to be educated, urban and mainly between 18-35 who can understand a good gripping plot and the basics of filmmaking,” said the self-learned filmmaker.

Made at a budget of around $2 million, the “first-time filmmaker” also admitted to having “gone through a lot of pain in trying to make a film during recession”.

“The first film is always a struggle but you have to do the math. Mathematically it is always very profitable to make a low-budget film first, especially when you are going for an international audience,” he added.

Asked if he had faced any resistance from Hollywood bigshots during his endeavour, Karri said: “As a filmmaker, no, but I did face a lot of resistance in terms of studios that were not in favour of my floating my own production house and doing it on my own because normally that way you are challenging the established. But I always took that as a positive inspiration and challenge and went ahead.”

Funding didn’t come easy either for the project.

“I wanted to collaborate with other studios but since it was really hard, I decided to use my own network and contacts to raise the funding and go with my first production,” he averred.

Karri said he had received good feedback for his movie at Cannes.

“It was a big and pretty good response. I liked it. I went in with no expectations. But people were expecting so much from me and treating me alongwith (Quentin) Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. I get the feeling I’m somewhere,” said Karri, who also got to meet Tarantino and superstar Johnny Depp in person.

Karri’s future projects include a Rs.1.5 billion ($30 million) project titled “Mobsters” and another called “Cannes”. An avid writer, he also boasts of six ready scripts in hand.

In addition, he is looking forward to an Indian collaboration and remake for “Mobsters”. Delhi-based Marwah Studios has already joined hands with Karri for the original version.





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