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September 3, 1999
ABCD Catch-phrase Is Now a Movie
Anu Chopra in New York
Now, a feature film bearing the ABCD title is being edited round the clock so that it can be shown at a number of film festivals which start later this month.
It will be shown at the Independent Feature Film Market in New York on September 18 at the Angelika Film Center.
Written and directed by Piyush Dinker Pandya, 31, who readily describes himself as yet another ABCD, the partly autobiographical film is primarily a comedy that explores the relationships between parents and children as well as the conflicts among the youth.
"We want this film to be an entertaining work," says Pandya. "But it will also address serious issues of our times."
Piyush and his brother Gitesh, 27, are convinced that their film will find audiences not only among moviegoers from the Indian subcontinent but also in the mainstream.
"Any immigrant -- particularly those who have made America their home in the past three decades -- can find echoes of their own lives in this film," says Gitesh Pandya, who runs Boxofficeguru, one of the most quoted web sites that analyses and reports on the mainstream movie business.
ABCD, which is yet to find a distributor, could open in about a dozen movie houses, and continue adding more screens, if the reviews and audience evaluation are strong.
The English-language film, starring mostly newcomers, was made for less than $ 1 million and was shot extensively in Edison and Iselin, two towns in New Jersey with an overwhelming Indian population and businesses. A few scenes were lensed in New York too.
The Pandyas invested some of their own savings (Piyush is a computer consultant), while the rest of the money came from Indian Americans in the New York tristate area.
"We are not telling our stories alone," says Gitesh Pandya. "This is also a film about the often-misunderstood older generation."
Among its artistes, Deep Katdare, a banker with a serious flair for theatre and cinema, plays a young man who is alienated from Indian culture but is drawn into it when he falls for a desi classmate. Katdare, raised in America, also contributed to the story and screenplay.
Purva Bedi, who had a key role in the recent off-Broadway success East Is East, plays one of the key parts in the movie. She is the person who helps Katdare come to terms with his self and appreciate both the West and the East.
While most of the artistes in the movie are desi, the crew was mostly American.
"We deliberately involved a number of American technicians," says Piyush Pandya. "They served as our ears and eyes. There were times we took a few things for granted, but they would want us to clarify. And we would remember then that we were not making a film for desis alone -- our film has to make sense to the mainstream audiences."
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