They dance away to break down walls
Hollywood has always been a glittery dream destination, not only for budding Indian talents but for big Bollywood stars as well looking towards a successful career in the West. There have been many success stories and some of devastations too, with narrations of disappointment and glory, of veneration and hype. The West has been known quite famously for its technical perfection and realistic approach and has naturally been a dream destination for hundreds of wannabe Indian professionals, especially art directors, dancers, choreographers, producers and directors. Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Bipasha Basu, Frieda Pinto, Ashok Amritraj, Mira Nair, Shekhar Kapoor and many more have had their share of success in Hollywood. And along with this talented lot, there are hundreds of other Indian youngsters waiting to hit a jackpot in the world’s biggest entertainment market.
With the Indian audience increasing every day in the US, young talents are trying their best to carve out a niche of their own in an industry Bollywood looks up to for inspiration. One such name is Shardul Sharma, an associate producer with 108 Production owned by Nayan Padrai. Sharma landed in the US in September 2012 and did his internship under Ashok Amritraj, renowned film producer and a former tennis player. Sharma says, ‘I was very excited and thrilled about being in Hollywood city. The thought of learning the art of film-making and doing projects in the Universal Studios was very fascinating.’
With an unflinching determination and brimming confidence, the 27-year-old overcame several hardships and worked on with a dream to make it big in the West. He further says, ‘Having an experience for over 12 years in the Indian entertainment industry, I thought it would not be so difficult for me to find a place in Hollywood. But that was not the case. I had co-produced several corporate films, ad films, music videos and two feature films Aasma and Shakal Pe Mat Ja when I was in India. I have also worked with celebrities like Saurabh Shukla, Aamna Shariff and Seema Biswas. With such a background, I firmly believed that it would not be difficult to find a job in the US but here the rules are different. Indian experiences do not have any value in the US and everybody has to start from the scratch. It was not something I was looking forward to.’
Currently, Sharma is working as an associate producer in two feature films with 108 Production – Billion Dollar Raja and Wildflowers and feels ecstatic about it. Billion Dollar Raja will have India’s superstar Mohan Lal in the lead along with an entire Hollywood cast. He has also been a part of renowned choreographer and dance director Shiamak Davar’s team and has worked in popular blockbusters like Bunty aur Babli, Kisna and Dhoom 2.
The vibrance and glitter of Hollywood is fairly hard to resist. Thrilling sets, amazing special effects, sci-fi action and incredible creativity makes Hollywood the most coveted destination for hundreds of wannabe stars.
Shilpa Tripathi, former Miss India Universe 4th runners up of 2010, dreams huge of becoming a Hollywood actor and is struggling to hit a break. After working very hard to achieve what she did, she wants to optimise the platform of that pageant in getting this break. She says, ‘Coming from academics, thriving in Hollywood is similar to that of navigating into a foreign country. You can only hope that your next contact can help you unlock a piece of the puzzle and perhaps take you to your intended destination. I am blessed not to be fighting it out here to stay unlike many of my friends, who have to fight tooth and nail just to exist in Los Angeles. I have witnessed talented people jump through hoops, lose substantial money and make extreme decisions just to get a few more months to make it in Hollywood. LA is rightfully called the city of dreams because it’s just as ambiguous as a dream and equally disheartening as you wake up. But we creative folks just can’t help dreaming.’
Shamika Tomar, a young girl from Agra, went to Hollywood after graduating from high school. Her future plans are very clear; she wants to learn as much as she can from Hollywood and make quality movies in India. ‘There is no comparison between movies made in India and the US. India is far behind in technology. I want to educate and entertain people at the same time through my stories.’
Vedant Joshi, a former assistant editor under famous filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj, is not happy in the US. He went to the states with the thought of educating himself and work upon on his filmmaking skills as a director but now finds it difficult to earn money using his talent.
Joshi says, ‘When I used to edit movies in India, the art of film-making use to excite me. Hence, I chose to study further to widen my knowledge in film-making but even after finishing my course as a director, I could not be a part of any film since I was not allowed to join the directors’ association in America. Making money through editing was my only option.