US channel plans B'wood film
US cable television channel American Movie Classics (AMC) plans to make a documentary film on Bollywood, India's formulaic film industry, the director of the film, Peter Mattei said on Monday.
The channel, which broadcasts an ongoing series about filmmakers on filmmakers has deputed independent Hollywood film director Peter Mattei to make the documentary on his fascination for Bollywood.
The as-yet unnamed documentary follows Mattei around Mumbai, as he tries to get a feel of the way Bollywood works and aims to explain it to the audience back home.
"I feel privileged to be able to introduce American audiences to Hindi films," Mattei told AFP. "I wish more people back home shared my enthusiasm for Bollywood."
Mattei has already visited a Bollywood shoot in Chiplun, a small town 300 km (185 miles) south of Mumbai and plans to spend some time at the film sets of top Bollywood director Dharmesh Darshan.
"I am thrilled that Amitabh Bachchan has agreed to an interview for our film. We also hope to meet stars like Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor, producer-director Ashutosh Gowarikar and other big names in the industry," he said.
Mattei, who has directed an independent film starring Steve Buscemi, star of Hollywood's Reservoir Dogs and Con-Air and has written and directed many plays in New York, first discovered Hindi films a decade ago when one of the local channels had a few hours of Hindi programming per week.
He has also worked on a television show for Nickelodeon and is currently developing a script for HBO. "I was so fascinated by Bollywood that when AMC started the filmmakers on filmmakers series, I decided I had to convince them to let me do something on Hindi films. It took us a while, but we finally sold it to them," he added.
The trip is Mattei's first to Mumbai, but the director has watched many Hindi films at the Eagle Theatre, his neighbourhood theatre in New York. "The films had no sub-titles and I had no idea what was going on, but the songs were always great fun to watch," he said.
When asked about his favourite Bollywood star, he gushes "Bachchan is a god. I feel really lucky to be able to meet him." And his favourite Hindi film? "I loved Lagaan (meaning tax). I think I learnt a lot more about British colonialism in India from Lagaan than I ever did from history books," Mattei said. Lagaan (directed by Ashutosh Gowarikar and produced by Aamir Khan (also the hero in the film) was nominated in 2002 in the best foreign film category at the Oscars.
Industry experts said that the international fascination can only help the Indian film industry. "It's great that the West is showing so much interest in the Hindi film industry. It will open up many new markets and benefit our films immensely," trade analyst Indu Mirani said.
Many Hollywood producers and directors are considering joint productions with Indian counterparts for Indian and American audiences. Mattei is accompained by his producer Rudolph Calligari and cameraman Toshiaka Ozawa.