A Hollywood Indie shot in India gets Manhattan Film Festival Award

Casting Director Vidya Iyengar flanked by Production Head Srivinay salian on her right and director Michael Keller on her left.

Casting Director Vidya Iyengar flanked by Production Head Srivinay salian on her right and director Michael Keller on her left.

Red Gold got the award for the best thriller – at Manhattan Film Festival – and I found one of my FB friends Vidya Iyengar thrilled. She turned out to be the casting director for this Hollywood film that was shot in India, in fact Dharavi; the largest slum in Asia.

Read Vidya Iyengar’s first person account.

..And the award for the best thriller in international film category goes to RED GOLD … I heard this from one of my cast and I could visualize Michael Keller the director holding the coveted trophy with a lot of people.
I wanted to scream and hug my husband who has stood by me and held the fort at home when I was away managing a circus like scenario of casting and production. But I didn’t.
I went to my balcony, stretched out and went through slides of my life as it was for nearly a decade being in this caravan. I smiled and smiled as the word ACHIEVED echoes in my mind again and again. I am from an Iyengar family where a cinema means to plan a week in advance book the tickets, deliberate whether stall and balcony and dress to kill and watch the movie in a nearby movie hall which means taking no cab. This journey has been at my terms and on my calling in this challenging creative world of cinema.
The morning of November 2012 found me reading a Facebook post about an international film to be shot in Mumbai. A Hollywood Director was looking for someone to assist in production as a Casting Director. After meeting Srivinay, the Production Head and the Director Michael Keller I was lucky enough to be there to go along for that ride.
The synergy worked. We went around the lanes and by Lanes of Dharavi (Mumbai) because of the subject matter to familiarize with the script and the way of life and to relate with the characters of the casts.
Casting for Red Gold was a real challenge, as this was the slum based Indian story made to be in English. More than 200 artists came for Audition. Choosing the cast was a tough task.
The film was shot in a Vasai village, 90 km from Mumbai. Due to severe budgetary restrictions; I almost worked for free but got paid when the movie won the Manhattan award.
Last but not the least, I would like to thank Srivinay Salian , Michael Keller and my entire cast including Shivam Sharma, Richa Meena, Mayur Bansal, Major.Bikramjeet Kunwarpal, Sundeep Hemnaoni, Akul Raje, rest of the team members and my family and friends to be part and allowed me to enjoy the award. I am confident and believe my team winning this recognition has opened the doors for all of us in their respective art work to walk through and make their caravan a colourful journey.
It’s also given me the opportunity to realize my potential as a human being and make positive changes.

Anurag Basu, Ranbir Kapoor and Kishore Kumar

Anurag and Ranbir

Somehow I believe Anurag Basu is born for greater things than Barfi, not that Barfi was any lesser. I have seen Life…in a Metro, Gangster and Murder, each, more than once. I saw Barfi in the plane while returning from USA and noticed how Anurag has got the best out of Ranbir Kapoor.
I am looking forward to his movie on the life of Kishore Kumar which will have Ranbir playing the role of the mad-genius Bengali. I think he is the only actor who can play KK with his quick changes of expression, a great sense of humor and a little crazy-fast way of talking.
It is easy for me to visualize Ranbir talking to the plants, like KK used to do or to play a tabla on the bald head of a producer asking for dates without settling the old dues or better still, waiting in his car outside the famous bungalow of Amitabh Bachchan for exactly three minutes, getting sore, return and vow never to lend his voice to the megastar.
Or to see Ranbir bashing up the girl who would play Madhubala, as KK used to do or to woo Yogita Bali, marry her and then divorce because the girl was extravagant or how he married Leena Chandavarkar the widow of Sidharth Bandodkar and many other incidents.
A tidbit: Anurag was to direct my biography of Meena Kumari – Simply Scandalous. It didn’t happen because the producers who were in the process of signing him found that he had hiked his rate after his ‘Murder’ became a hit!
It would have been nice to see a Manisha Koirala humming the lines Meena Kumari wrote:
Ek markaz kii talaash ek bhatakti Khushboo/ Kabhii manz kabhii tamhiid-e-safar hotii hai.
Or to have a Kangana Runout talking to her collection of rocks and referring to each rock with a name!