A Christmas dream-come-true

Deccan Chronicle.  | nayare ali

Entertainment, Hollywood

New Yorker Prashantt Guptha is making waves in the US with his American film, A New Christmas, which released in December 2020

Prashantt guptha

It’s celebration time for the talented actor whose film has already had a good festival run in the US. A New Christmas is based on an ethnic version of Christmas, as seen through the eyes of Indian and Black protagonists. A New Christmas is the first of its kind in a space usually occupied by white Christmas characters. “My goal is to have a holiday release in 2021 in India. It has to be released during Thanksgiving, Christmas, year-end, etc.” says Prashantt, who has made Mumbai his home post his marriage to an Indian girl called Mansi.
His foray into production began in 2018, when Prashantt produced a short Hindi film, Tu. “This was a motivational film about a man talking to his alter ego. It was well received on YouTube, and Imtiaz Ali’s company acquired it for release. That inspired me to make a low-budget feature film for the international market,” adds Prashantt.

Obviously, the actor–filmmaker’s New York connection ensured that the city was the first choice to shoot the film in. “Christmas in the US is always celebrated as a white or black festival. I remember watching Mira Nair’s Mississippi Masala with Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury, several years back. So that inspired me to make this film but this time by flipping the genders. We had our world premiere at the Heartland international film festival in Indiana. It is a predominantly white state, but we got an impressive audience. This film has also made it to black audience film fests and south Asian film fests,” says the actor, his faint American accent audible.

Moving back home
At a time when it is considered uber-cool for Indian actors to head westwards in pursuit of global opportunities, New-York born and bred Prashantt chose to park himself in India. The actor, who has excelled in playing characters with a substance in films such as the 2016-thriller Neerja and the 2019-film The Taskhenth Files as well as the more recent hit web series Special Ops, which released in March 2020, grew up on a diet of Bollywood flicks.

“My family exposure to Hindi cinema was a predominant influence. I watched movies that starred Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, then Anil Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt, and graduated to the Khans in the ’90s. My father exposed me to the Indian music from the ’40s and ’50s. I have strongly been influenced by the Mahabharata and the Ramayana,” reveals Prashantt, who nevertheless confesses that it was a challenge for the New-Yorker in him to set up base in India. “In my third year of college at Baruch College, I met my wife Mansi, who had come to New York to study. So that made the move to India easier. Her family was an anchor for me as I knew no one in the industry. But now I am getting decent work in India.”

Festivities expected
Prashantt confesses that once upon a time he had harboured dreams of stepping into SRK’s shoes. But now, he fans more practical ambitions. “I came to Mumbai to be Amitabh or Shah Rukh Khan as their stardom was deeply rooted in my head. After coming here, I realised that the concept of hero was changing and if I needed to survive as an actor, I needed to mould myself as stalwarts such as Sanjeev Kumar, Om Puri and Irfan Sir did in the past and Naseer saab, Manoj Bajpai or Pankaj Tripathi do now because that was the interesting space. So my goal now is to do interesting work, get well paid and attain a certain level of stardom,” he honestly states.

Before the India release of A New Christmas, Prashantt has two more feature films ready for release, one of which is Love You Bahut Sara with Vikram Gokhale and Revathy, and the other, Taabeer in which he acts with Prosenjit Chatterjee and Neeraj Kabi. “The first film has already covered the NY and London Film Fests,” he tells us.

Christmas in the US is always celebrated as a white or black festival. I remember watching Mira Nair’s Mississippi Masala with Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury, several years back. So that inspired me to make this film but this time by flipping the genders

I came to Mumbai to be Amitabh or Shah Rukh Khan as their stardom was deeply rooted in my head. After coming here, I realised that the concept of hero was changing and if I needed to survive as an actor, I needed to mould myself as stalwarts such as Sanjeev Kumar, Om Puri and Irfan Sir did in the past and Naseer saab, Manoj Bajpai or Pankaj Tripathi do now because that was the interesting space
— Prashantt guptha

Read more...