Monday, 19 September 2011

Akshay Kumar's 'Speedy Singhs': Beginning of a new era

Megastar Akshay Kumar is soon going to be seen in his home production film 'Speedy Singhs'. Kumar is playing himself that is a Bollywood hero in a film based on a relatively lesser known game in India, Ice Hockey.

The film explores the sub conscious of a Sikh boy who is born and brought up in Canada. The second generation lad of an Indian immigrant family, Rajveer is confused about his loyalty and identity in life, and wants to mark his impression in Ice Hockey, a game dominated by whites.

The agony and anxiety of being a Sikh boy in an alien land have always tortured Rajveer who needs to wear religious signs as per the family beliefs. Finally, the youngster decides to do away with his turban and long hair in order to get accepted in Canada.

Rajveer's quest does not end here. Rajveer's father wants him to enter the family business while he wants to pursue a career in Ice Hockey.

The boy does not accept it and sets out to form a Hockey team of his own.

The film will answer whether he becomes successful in achieving a balance between his dreams and parents' expectations or not.

Named as 'Breakaway' in abroad, 'Speedy Singhs' banks chiefly on the tasted craftsmanship of Robert Lieberman.

Lieberman is a celebrated Canadian film and TV director who has several internationally acclaimed films and TV series to his credit.

Known for his grip on thrillers, Lieberman will leave no stone unturned to make this sports based film appealing.

The music of the film is given by Sandeep Chowta who was last heard in Ram Gopal Varma's 'Not A Love Story'.

In addition to Sandeep Chowta and Meet Brothers, international singers as RDB, Rishi Rich and Bohemia have also given their inputs in the music department.

Vinay Virmani, the son of producer Ajay Virmani, is playing Rajveer while Camilla Belle is donning the role of his love interest.

Vinay might be a new entry into films but Camilla's face is quite familiar to the film lovers via films like 'Poison Ivy', 'The Patriot' and 'Jurassic Park: The Lost world'.

Other star cast includes famous stand up comedian Russell Peters, Anupam Kher and Gurpreet Guggi.

The film boasts of touching a very sensitive issue of being a Sikh in Canada, which has its own pros and cons.

It won't be easy for the director Lieberman to strike a fine balance in between objectivity and popular sentiments in scenes related to religious prejudices and beliefs.

Further, it will again be problematic if he portrays everything as melodrama. Generally, people do expect a stand from the director on sensitive issues.

Of course, typical Hollywood style fast paced thrillers and sports based films have carved a niche audience base in India, still we are not used to watch our own heroes going all guns for their sports.

Bollywood has so far produced more than 20 major films based on sports, but only 'Lagaan', 'Chak De India', 'Iqbal' and 'Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar' became successful among them. Other films as 'Hip Hip Hurray', 'Boxer', 'Awwal Number', 'Chamatkar' and 'Kabhi Ajnabee The', not only did bad business but also finished career of some promising actors. Therefore, the situation can become trickier for the newcomer Virmani in case the film gets bombed at the box office.

'Chak De India' and 'Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar' are two rare successful films not based on Cricket, but both of them had established actors, something 'Speedy Singhs' doesn't posses.

Ice Hockey is not a very familiar sport in India, so it will be complicated for the storyteller to convey the nuances of the sports to the typical Indian audiences.

Not many films based on the idea of apartheid are made in India. Probably, 'I Proud to be an Indian', and 'Goal' are the last two films, but there lack of commercial success makes one apprehensive about 'Speedy Singhs'. 'Namastey London' was primarily a love story between two people of the same origin.

The film is going to be released on September 23, and it might mark the beginning of a new era for sports based films in India.

Source: INBLive

Thursday, 15 September 2011

New film 'Breakaway' about a father-son relationship, made by father-son team

TORONTO - For his first feature film, "Breakaway" writer-star Vinay Virmani penned a tale about a Sikh hockey player whose father doesn't understand his love of the game.

And when Virmani turned to his own dad, Ajay, to produce the movie — which recently had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival — it tested their own relationship.

Lead actor and writer Vinay Virmani and his father, producer Ajay Virmani of the new Canadian film Breakaway.

"For the most part, we had a very healthy sort of partnership," Ajay Virmani said in a recent interview, seated next to his son.

"We had a lot of debates at 2 in the morning over a bowl of cereal, and (we'd) carry on until the early hours of the morning — until one of us said, 'The hell with it.'

"But we showed up on the set the next day, smiling and ready to go to work. And like in any relationship, the debates were very sort of creative and healthy, and it moved the story forward."

That story revolves around Rajveer Singh (Vinay Virmani), who sleepily drifts through shifts at his uncle's trucking company while focusing his energy on hockey. When the local amateur team rejects Singh, he rallies his Punjabi pals to form a team of their own — and manages to recruit an ex-NHLer (played by Emmy-nominated actor Rob Lowe) to coach the slapdash squad.

All the while, he clashes with his traditional father, who questions his progeny's priorities and still can't get over the fact that Singh cut his hair short in what seemed like an act of defiance.

While Virmani himself isn't a born Sikh, he says he does "believe in the religion heavily." When the 27-year-old began crafting this story about two years ago, he drew from the experiences of friends and family who have endured generational clashes over shifting cultural values.

"A lot of our friends go through it," his dad said. "We have friends, relatives, we've seen what happens with immigrant families here that not only come from Southeast Asia, but Philippines, or China, or the Caribbean."

Added Vinay Virmani: "All families, really. Because I think as children, we try to find that perfect balance between following our own dream and trying to live up to our parents' expectations."

Growing up in Brampton, Ont., Virmani developed a passion for hockey, playing in local house leagues — a warmth for the winter sport he says is shared by many in the Southeast Asian community.

"Indians love hockey," he said. "I think it's that carryover from field hockey, (which is) the national sport of India."

Virmani's character in the film is a frequent target for racial bullying while playing the sport he loves, with a flashback scene depicting other kids flicking pucks at his head in an attempt to dislodge his turban.

That material was only partially based in Virmani's real life, he said.

"I went through elements of it. I was very fortunate that things that happened to them, nothing as serious happened to me. But the things that they go through are reality for lots of not only South Asians, Sikhs, but a lot of immigrant children."

But "Breakaway" doesn't linger long on such heavy subject matter. Mostly, it's a breezy, upbeat sports comedy flick that will hope to hook families when it opens in wide release later this month.

And the filmmakers aren't limiting their aim to the domestic market.

Ajay Virmani — who is president and CEO of the airline CargoJet — says the film will open on 600 screens in India, with some of the local cultural colour (references to Wayne Gretzky, for instance) being snipped in favour of generic dialogue.

And the film's roster of globe-spanning stars should help sell the movie to international audiences. In addition to a co-starring turn from Lowe, the film also features cameos from rap stars Drake and Ludacris and Indian superstar Akshay Kumar, while Canadian comedian Russell Peters ad libs his way through a performance as a slightly sleazy character poised to marry into Singh's family.

"They gave me a chance to do what I wanted to do," Peters said in a recent interview. "I chose to be like a (jerk) from New York and play him up that way — snarky, lovably snarky, you know. You kind of hate him and root for him at the same time."

But Peters didn't sign up for the project because he wanted to be in a hockey movie.

"I don't like hockey at all to be honest with you. I could care less about it."

Vinay Virmani might have also seen his passion for the game fade ever so slightly over the course of making the film.

While shooting, Virmani spent entire days strapped into his skates. It was particularly taxing during the film's centrepiece on-ice Bollywood dance number, in which Virmani twirls his on-screen love interest (Camilla Belle) around and around on a fantastical rink.

Shooting that scene took 12 hours. Needless to say, Virmani hasn't hurried back to any frozen ponds since.

"I don't want to put on another pair of skates," he says with a smile. "I think I still have blisters on my feet from that shoot."

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

Akshay makes an exception for Vinay's Breakaway, plays a cameo

Even as Akshay Kumar is gearing up to bring his international collaboration Breakaway (Speedy Singhs) on screen globally, here is one piece of news which was just come in after being kept under the wraps all this while. As has turned out to be the case, Akshay's music video with Grammy Award winning American rapper and actor Ludacris isn't the only contribution that he is making to the film. He would in fact also appear on screen at an important juncture in the film's narrative.

Reveals our source, "Yes, apart from the song, Akshay would be seen in the film during a talkie part as well. The makers had refrained from revealing it to the audience earlier on as they didn't want attention to go away from the film and its debutant lead actor Vinay Virmani. However, the truth is that Akshay has shot for the film as well."

Now this is quite an interesting development because traditionally Akshay has always stayed away from doing any cameos even for friends and close acquaintances right through his two decade career. The only exceptions he has made so far are for Farah Khan (Om Shanti Om), Milap Zaveri (Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai) and Lara Dutta (Chalo Dilli).

"In fact earlier on there were talks that he won't be making any appearance in Breakaway (Speedy Singhs). However, as the film gathered steam, he decided to do a scene as well in addition to the special music video for 'Shera Di Kaum Punjabi'. How relevant does it eventually turn out to be for the film is something that would be known only when the film sees a global release for itself", the source continues.

Expectedly the cast and crew of the film as well as Akshay is tight lipped around the extended cameo. However, when contacted, Vinay Virmani confirmed the news piece.

"Yes, Akshay is there in the song and also has a very special cameo in the film. Now don't ask me about any additional details because if I utter a single word, I would be in a lot of trouble", laughs Vinay.

He adds on a serious note, "Akshay has been like a big brother to me. He has done so much for me personally as well as professionally. Now to see him step into the film for a song and a cameo is something that I will never forget."

Hope this 'special cameo' turns out to be as unforgettable too!

Source: Bollywood Hungama

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

BREAKAWAY's Brampton Buzz Mela!

The cast and crew of Akshay Kumar's Indo-Canadian venture BREAKAWAY (SPEEDY SINGHS) recently had a blast at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Mayor of Brampton Susan Fennell welcomed the entire cast of Indo-Canadian movie BREAKAWAY (SPEEDY SINGHS) for an official TIFF Buzz Event on Sunday hosted in Chinguacousy Park in Brampton.

The cast of BREAKAWAY included Rob Lowe, Anupam Kher, local Brampton boy Vinay Virmani as the main lead, Noureen Dewulf and Camilla Belle, Gurpreet Ghuggi, and Brampton's own comedy sensation Russell Peters.

Brand Ambassadors of Brampton and Punjabi music group RDB along with Josh, Bohemia, Jassi Sidhu, H. Dhami and Veronica also performed LIVE at the event.

The Live performances were livened up by Shiamak Davar's internationally known dance troupe.

The event was supported by the city of Brampton.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF and Breakaway

Toronto barely recovered from IIFA when along came the TIFF awards . This time the Bell Lightbox is the venue for the festival in Toronto. This skyscraper ,in the entertainment district of city ,occupies an entire block .

The 38 storey and more building is a cultural centre with residences and is the home of TIFF. It has a three storey public atrium with five public cinemas, two galleries, three learning studios , a centre for students and scholars ,a bistro, a restaurant and a lounge .Designed by the famous architectural firm KPMB ,this facility provides a meeting place for film enthusiasts from all over the globe. The Reitman family and Daniels Corporation (acclaimed film maker Ivan Reitman ) have helped TIFF realise the dream of having a building dedicated to films. Running year round it hosts thousands of events .TIFF started out in 1976 as a' festival of festivals' and in 1995 was given it's present name. This place has introduced Toronto film lovers to world's greatest artists. Many of them look back to this 'festival' in Toronto, as a foundation to where their careers took off. Names like Paul Haggis, Jason Reitman, Michael Moore ,David Cronenberg and John Woo come to mind. The festival also happens to be a launching pad for numerous Hollywood and art films. Set in September ,it unleashes the Oscar buzz. The films and international press cover it extensively. With a film library, a film festival for children and a commitment to educating the audiences it has enriched the multicultural fabric of Canada. It can easily be compared to some of the best festivals like Cannes and Berlin.

Hundreds of movies from around the world are screened here for the press and public . Breakaway, starring Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, Rob Lowe, Vinay Virmani , Russell Peters, Gurpreet Singh (Ghoogi) and many more of Hollywood and Bollywood fame ,played out to an eager crowd here. It is directed by Robert Liberman of the D3 and Mighty Ducks fame .It is a movie about a south Asian (Punjabi) family living in Toronto. Speedy Singhs is the Indian version of the same and shall be releasing soon in India and the UK ."Indians love their cricket and we ice hockey ." Said Vinay Virmani who plays Rajveer Singh, the hero in the movie.

 A movie about ice hockey and we in North America not watching ? Not possible ! But that is not the only reason for you to go. Picture the frozen waters of the ponds in front of the Taj Mahal and you with your Maharajah or Maharani waltzing away to the tune of the Bhangra dhol ?? Oh did I add you gotta have blades too (ice skates) and the full moon should beam on the intricate patterns you carve out on the ice like "I love you" !! sounds romantic? You betchya !!! You'll wonder why this was never done before.

The movie explores the relationship between immigrant parents and their children .It is a lighthearted and delightful comedy and could be the story of any immigrant family living out it's dream in an adopted land .It is a movie to be enjoyed with the whole family and don't be surprised if any or all of the members of your 'khandan' identify themselves with it. The various bonds are explored and played out in a very realistic way. Set in Toronto it immediately reflects the multicultural diversity, yet maintains the unity inherent in a desi family .Punjabi culture is evident with its warm , open hearted and meaningful dialogues . Anupam kher , Gurpreet and their life partners (on the screen) give an excellent performance .Being a father comes naturally to Anupam Kher since out of the 450 films or so that he has done he remarked "400 were of me playing a dad!".But we know that being a veteran he can play any role .

Russell Peters , a name as common in our households as garam masala , is just himself. Comic, funny, witty and wait ...there is a side of him that oozes out ..his warmth as a friend ,a brother and a loyal boyfriend. The spiritual aspects of the Sikh religion is woven in the tapestry of the script without being overbearing yet very enlightening. The lead role is played by the handsome young star Vinay Virmani (home grown talent from TO) who is the son of the producer Ajay Virmani. Vinay's love and passion for hockey does not sit well with his father (Anupam Kher), a first generation Indian who wants him to join the family trucking business .The beautiful Camilla Belle is his leading lady. Needless to say ,against all odds the young player wins the hearts of all who resist him.

The movie has all the making of a perfect curry that the whole family and friends can savour in the veggie clean cut ishtyle ,tadka markey!

The story will strike a chord and resonate with all who are NRIs and will also appeal to others since in the words of the director Rob Liberman ,being "a parent and wanting what's best for our children and kids wanting to exert their independence is universal."
Rob Lowe as a coach is a perfect guide .

Breakaway (Speedy Singhs) ,the team certainly strikes a goal and many more! Winning all the way the puck never stops here but shoots to your heart scoring everytime ! Keep bringing such movies as we Canadians love to 'pao bhangra' and still feel humbled and blessed when you play our National anthem !

Source: Times of India

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Director Robert Lieberman on his goals, assists and penalties

In the Post’s all mighty (and unofficial) glory, we’d like to induct director Robert Lieberman in our CanCon Hall of Fame. Lieberman, who helmed D3: The Mighty Ducks, directed the cross-cultural hockey film Breakaway, opening at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday.

Here are some other crucial facts about this Canadian player:

Born: in Buffalo, New York

Home team: Toronto

Rookie job: My rookie job was doing the coaching films for the Buffalo Bills. As part of your contract, you have to supply your opponents with a special formatted copy of your game so they can study your plays. It was my first filmmaking job — way up in the catwalk in Buffalo. The winds would blow through and the cameras would freeze and not operate. It was right around the O.J. Simpson era, pre-murder.

Legendary goals: “My first picture was with the newly-minted Academy Award-winning Jon Voight (Table for Five, 1983). I’ve worked with President Clinton on a PSA that I filmed in the White House. I worked with George C. Scott in Titantic, a mini-series for CBS. Breakaway to me is a major goal in my life. I got to work with a young talent, Vinay Virmani, and mold him into his first major acting role. Mostly, I got to make a film that is at once very funny and very entertaining and is about something. It really is about immigrant folks coming to a new country and wanting to become apart of that country and be accepted as another countryman.”

Famous assists: “I was part of the discovery of Catherine Zeta Jones. I was doing this mini-series called Titanic. We needed a leading lady. We had to start shooting on Monday. They sent me a tape of a woman who had just done work in Wales. I hired her having never spoken to her. We worked for eight weeks. This has been verified: Steven Spielberg saw my mini-series and said, ‘That’s the girl to put in Zorro.’ And Zorro launched her career.”

Points: “2000+ (number of commercials he has directed). I was the first recipient of the DGA Award for Best Commercial Director (1980). I got a job as an assistant editor and then they were looking for an editor. Very shortly after that, I had just turned 21, they were looking for another director and I said, ‘How about me?’ At 21, I won the Cannes Film Festival for one of my early commercials for 7Up, the Uncola. The slogan was: ’7Up” turning the cola world unside down.’ It worked. They took their sales and they quadrupled it.”

Penalties: “I made a couple of B-movies that I lost control over and when I finally saw them, I wanted to take my name off of them. I did it for the wrong reasons. If you do anything for money, it’s the wrong reason. You can look at my IMDB and figure out which ones didn’t make it to the theatre.”

In his Hall of Fame treasure chest: “The first DGA award, that’s for sure. A picture of being at the birth of all four of my children. A picture that was just taken last Sunday of me, my two ex-wives and my current wife. And there was a commercial called The New Kid for McDonald’s. I consider it my best commercial ever. The new kid was a retired guy who was about 75 years old; it’s just the most adorable commercial of this old guy going to work [for McDonald’s]. And I would put Breakaway in my trophy chest.”

Breakaway screens Sept. 10 at the Visa Screening Room (Elgin) and Sept. 11 at AMC2 at TIFF.

Source: National Post 

Meet Akshay's Protege

Akshay Kumar launches Vinay Virmani in his Hollywood maiden Indo-Canadian movie ‘Breakaway’, which will be releasing as ‘Speedy Singhs’ in UK and India. The promising Debutant Vinay Virmani shares a special bond with Bollywood Khiladi Kumar.

Vinay plays the character of Rajveer Singh, the 21 year old protagonist in the movie who dreams of a professional ice hockey career and has to go against all odds to achieve his dream.

The film revolves around a Punjabi immigrant family which goes through turmoil in trying to come to terms with social pressures of Canadian society. Meet Rajveer Singh from Breakaway (Speedy Singhs)