NRI director trains camera on family ties in United States

New Delhi: Coming from India with its tradition of extended families and close linkages, Anand Alagappan found himself intrigued with relationships in the US and decided to delve deeper into the issue in his directorial debut "Anything For You" releasing Friday.The Indian American director, who travelled to the US from Chennai more than a decade ago to do masters in computer science from the University of Texas at Arlington, says he decided to explore what brings the two cultures together.

"For a writer-director most of the stories come from personal experience. I observe things and come up with stories. For someone coming from India, I was intrigued by the family culture and relationships in the US," Alagappan told reporters in an e-mail interview.

"Though the people in US have freedom and are highly individualistic, the family system is always broken. It gave me an opportunity to weave a story around relationships and bring two cultures of India and the US together. At the end of the day we are all looking for happiness," added the director, who is in India to promote his film.

His film tells the story of an Indian-American doctor`s entangled feelings - he is stuck between his wife and and an American girl, who wants him back at any cost. How the doctor gets out of this turmoil forms the main plot of the film that features Juliana Fine, Pooja Kumar and Sam Ghosh.

He doesn`t believe in the term "crossover cinema".

"My guess would be today`s lifestyle has changed," he said, answering a question on whether there was a lull in films of the genre.

"There was less technology and communication earlier and today the term crossover doesn`t have any meaning. Anyone can go anywhere and make a movie and release it globally," said the director who takes inspiration from directors Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, Zhang Yimou and Ridley Scott.

One of his favourite Hindi films is Sudhir Mishra`s "Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi".

"Initially, I used to write journals and personal diaries. One of my friends read them and said I write well with good imagination and that I should write screenplays. That`s when it all started. First, I made a TV show called `We Love India`, a travelogue shot in the US with interviews of people of Indian origin in America.

"We just bought a high-end camera and went into people`s house, universities all across America, and made lively interviews on the road. I hosted and produced it. It was telecast in India on Vijay TV in 13 week episodes," he said.

Then he made a short film called "No Exit", a comedy about credit card service that was selected for eight film festivals, including the LA International Short Film Festival and the South Asian International Film Festival in New York.

"Wildlife cinematographer Alphonse Roy shot the film and since then we have become good friends. He shot this feature film as well," said Alagappan who started Newyork Talkies in 2007 with along with Ravi Gavva and Mahender Musuku.

Shot in India and the US, "Anything For You", is their first feature film and the target audience is the US, India and the West in general.

"Relationships have become complicated because of fast life and technology. We have more options than what our parents had earlier. So, I thought people who understand relationships can appreciate the movie very well. Also, there`s a spiritual aspect to the movie and a lot of people liked it when they saw it in America," he said.

He didn`t reveal the budget, saying, "It is a very decent budget for an independent movie and we always had money at our disposal to achieve a quality product."

"The funds came through friends and I was not shy about asking them. Guess my short film `No Exit` immensely impressed everyone who thought this guy can make a good movie and let`s support him."

Asked whether diaspora themes interest him, he said: "In today`s globalised world, the boundaries and barriers for languages, stories, have gone. So any interesting theme presented well is a good film."


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