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Road to fame

Ritu Kumar's son makes a Bollywood entry


LESS IS more for Ashvin Kumar as is obvious from his two short films - The Road to Ladakh (48 minutes) and The Little Terrorist (15 minutes)." Ashvin describes The Road to Ladakh as his film school training. "I basically had never made films and wanted to learn. I did one semester at the London Film School and then put the rest of the money into Road to Ladakh. I look at the film as a film school exercise."

"I am a hands on kind of guy - you know for some people, learning in a classroom works and for others (like me!) we need to go out there and do it. It works for me because you end with something in your hands."

Ashvin describes choosing an almost impossible terrain like Ladhak for his first film as "inexperience and foolishness. On a more serious note, however, I felt Ladakh reflected the story, which is about two lonely people in a lonely place. And there can be no place lonelier than Ladakh. India is a place where you do not have to go too far before you run into hoards of people. Ladakh is different as you could go miles without seeing anybody."

The Road to Ladakh is bare, spare love story of an uptown girl, Sharon, played with feisty charm by Koel Puri (Everybody Says I am Fine) who is on a trip to Ladakh to meet a Brigadier. She meets a stranger en route (played by the beyond sexy Irfan Khan) and there is an attraction between the two. The movie is a road movie, a love story and also a gripping edge-of-the-seat thriller.

The Road to Ladakh caught the eye of a Hollywood producer when it was screened at the Cannes Film Festival last year and has resulted in the film being remade into a feature length film in Hollywood. "We will be providing back stories for the characters. Sharon's character is being rewritten as an American journalist coming to Ladakh to interview the brigadier."

The Little Terrorist is based on a true story of a Pakistani boy who enters India by mistake and the interaction between the Brahmin family who gives the boy shelter and the boy.

When asked why both the films deal with terrorism, Ashvin laughs and says, "I wish I could give you a profound answer. There is actually none. On the other hand I wanted to expand the canvas. I wanted to move beyond a mere love story in The Road to Ladakh to make it politically relevant. The Little Terrorist in a way completes the arc."

"Making The Road to Ladakh a full-length feature post 9/11 is a way to show the world (mainly America which crushes a country like Afghanistan or Iraq on suspicion) the human face of terrorism. I want to show the world that terrorists might be evil or misguided but they are also human beings."

Ashvin who started off as an actor in theatre, spent quite a long time doing "painful stuff like editing tele serials," before he decided to make films. And now he is into his third film, which is a "Hindi film for the international market."

"The film is a thriller called The Forest - it is not a naach gaana saga for the diaspora. See Bollywood is big in Bollywood and for the diaspora, which is one per cent of the world cinema watching audience. I want to tap into the rest of the 99 per cent. There is a market for foreign films - kung fu films from Hong Kong are hugely popular and so are the horror films from Japan so I am sure there is a market for a well made genre film which is high on content." And incidentally if Koel Puri's look is stunning and the Rajasthani villagers clothes look like the last word in haute couture, it is because they have been designed by the high priestess of style Ritu Kumar who just happens to be Ashvin's mum!

MINI ANTHIKAD-CHHIBBER

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