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California, crossover and cinema

Set to produce the region's first-ever crossover flick with his newly formed California Media Group, Nadadur Vardhan, the Los Angeles-based financial consultant, has huge plans up his sleeve to redefine Telugu cinema.

— Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

CATALYST FOR CHANGE: Nadadur Vardhan talks about his plans. — Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

WHEN A harrowed Lionel Ritchie was caught in tax controversies, Nadadur Vardhan could not help humming — Hello... is it me you are looking for? Rated as U.S.'best tax expert, financial consultant, Vardhan, not only helped Ritchie out of the tight spot, but both became fast friends before long.

Contemplating a Ritchie number in his forthcoming Telugu crossover flick, Vardhan has huge plans up his sleeve for Telugu tinseldom, which he feels is currently "running into a rotten rut with similarity of script and ideas".

With his recently launched California Media Group (CMG), the NRI has roped in international investors, media experts and a think-tank to produce progressive films, serials and soaps for the audience in his hometown (Hyderabad) and abroad.

"The scene of crossover concepts is not very popular in regional language cinema. I will try to address social issues through my movies that are more women-oriented, to reset the century-old pre-conditioned mindsets of men who feel only they are superior," he says.

"It is because of the way the system was designed to control women that India has remained under-developed when compared to the U.S. or the U.K.," observes Vardhan, who wants to act as a "catalyst for change" and redefine regional cinema.

The 50-something NRI — who was the secretary of the Hindu Temple Society of Southern California by faith, and a Fellow of the National Tax Institute in Washington D.C. by profession, and founder-chairman of the Indo-American Vision Foundation by passion — has now chosen to astride the hallway of cinema prompted by long years of insight into concepts and intricacies of filmmaking. And all these learnt from nowhere else than the hub, Hollywood.

"Leading actors and directors of Hollywood movies were my clients, from whom I picked up proficiency and skills necessary to start it on my own," he says with an air of mature confidence.

"I am even confident that by the beginning of next year, I will be able to outsource post-production work of Hollywood films to India, whereby it will be economical for the Americans while generating more employment opportunities for us, Indians." Hectic lobbying with investors is on to set up the requisite technological infrastructure so that work begins early.

"Work for CMG's first film — slated for an early November release in 2004 — has already begun. Harshvardhan has penned the script, which is very fresh and contemporary. Hyderabad, Chennai and New Zealand have been chosen for the setting. Abhiram, a software engineer with the U.S. Army, has been chosen to play the lead role," says Vardhan, adding that talks are on with a leading Bollywood heroine for the female lead.

CMG will produce three crossover films in a row before taking on the telly, the CEO of the media group says. "We shall be a tough competition for existing players," he beams enthusiastically as he concurs, "It will be just a matter of time before you know, and we strike real rich."

With his wide experience, research and familiarity with films (he has played an advisory role in Leela and Tansen, beside a few Hollywood flicks), Vardhan sure knows what he speaks.

SOUVIK CHOWDHURY

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