Gulshan Grover, one of the first Indian actors to cross over to Hollywood, walked the red carpet at the opening of the London Film Festival this week but is ‘disturbed and upset’ that there was hardly any presence of Indians at the premier event.
Indian films are popular in Britain, where a large diaspora supports simultaneous film releases in India. Some films such as Lagaan have attracted non-Indian audiences, but the mainstreaming of Indian films may not be here yet– as Grover’s experience suggested.
Speaking to members of the Indian Journalists Association on Friday, Grover despaired at the absence of Indians on the opening day attended by stars such as Meryl Streep and Helena Bonham Carter, whose new film, ‘Suffragette’, inaugurated the festival on Wednesday.
“I was shocked to see that there were hardly any Indians or Indian photographers or video cameramen at the red carpet. I told the organisers to inform the English media about me, which they did, and that helped, but where was the Indian presence,” he asked.
Known as the ‘bad man’ for his many roles as a villain, Grover features in ‘Beeba Boys’ (director: Deepa Mehta), which was shown in two theatres during the festival. However, he said the audience response to the Canada-based film was not exactly wild.
The organisers, he said, were “passionate and respectful” about Indian films, and noted that he was the only major Indian actor to walk the red carpet at the event. He said his participation at the festival was a “learning experience”.
Three Indian films being shown in the festival are ‘Aligarh’ (dir: Hansal Mehta) starring Manoj Bajpayi, ‘The New Classmate’ (dir: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari) and Kothanodi (dir: Bhaskar Hazarika).
Grover said three of his forthcoming films were ‘UnIndian’ starring former Australian cricketer Brett Lee and Tannishtha Chatterjee; ‘Chehre’ shot in Oxford starring Manisha Koirala and Jackie Shroff; and ‘Kaun Kitne Pani Mein’ directed by Neela Madhab Panda.
Praising Prince Charles, who he met recently at Dumfries House in Scotland, Grover said he was delighted that the heir to the British crown had, for the first time, allowed one of his films to be shot in the sylvan palatial surroundings.