Actress Shilpa Shetty, who plays an Odissi dancer in an upcoming Sino-Indian film venture titled The Desire, is full of praise for her Chinese co-star Xia Yu, whose name she says is invariably mispronounced by Indians.
The film, produced jointly by Sharad Hegde from Mumbai and Tracy Shiyun from China, is being directed by R. Sarath.
“I heard my hero (Xia Yu) correcting people pronouncing his name and every time someone called out his name, it invariably was wrong,” Shilpa wrote on her blog.
“The exact pronunciation being S(h)iya Yeoh! - which means 'summer rain'. The director addressed him as Sha Wu which meant 'afternoon', Sha Yu which meant 'oil' and many more interpretations with different christenings,” she said in her Jan 31 post.
“I dreaded calling out his name with the fear of getting it wrong. It was a funny sight till some people resigned to calling him 'Sir!' (It was easier)," she says.
"But he (Xia Yu) was too sweet, every time someone called out his name; he very patiently corrected it with a smile on his face."
The India-China project, under the banner of C-9 Motion Pictures in association with Indish Creations, also features Anupam Kher, Sachin Khedekar, Sheetal Menon and Nakul Vaid.
The Desire revolves around Goutami (Shilpa), an accomplished Odissi dancer, and a talented artist Jai Leang (Xia Yu) and follows the journey of their respective lives until they are separated and brought together again by destiny.
“Shoot's been hectic, a marathon schedule in Nasik after which we'll move to Kuala Lumpur. Shaping up very well, very impressed with Sarath's vision and his grasp of the medium is commendable,” Shilpa writes.
“He's slating to showcase it in the Cannes Film festival so we are working at break neck speed. For a change, the international audiences will get to see more than just SLUMS, filth and an unhygienic environment and will see the deep rooted culture and beauty of India.”
“It will be a film I'll be proud of as an actor and as an Indian. Hopefully this will be received with as much gusto...,” she writes.
“It was amazing to see his professionalism and dedication, despite not speaking the Hindi language he did try to make an effort to get comfortable with the surrounding with the help of Tracy (his English interpreter).”
“For the first time, I faced the camera with a foreign actor and that was a different experience. One thing that's still constant is the fact that cinema understands the language of expression, so in the shot we understood each other perfectly well even if off camera we had to make an effort,” she said.