A Curry On An American Plate - New Comedy
From Houston Director San Banarje
Written By H.G. Welch
Houston has long been the setting for quirky movies. From Brewster McCall to The Chase to Rushmore, the Bayou City has been a locale for the funny and the eccentric. Now from director San Banarje comes a new comedy direct from Houston. One of our own, Meera Nandlal, has been cast in the upcoming movie. We got a chance to sit down with her and ask her twenty questions about her experiences, goals and Houston film making in general.
1. You are appearing in the upcoming film A Curry on an American Plate, what can you tell us about this movie? The film is about a dying Indian restaurant that has been given 30 days to buy the property or get evicted. It has some unexpected twist and turns that will not only make you laugh, but fight for the underdogs that are just trying to achieve the “American Dream.” The story takes place in Houston and will reference a landmark early on to establish the location. Although not a Bollywood film, there will be dancing and singing throughout the film to keep the audience pleasantly entertained.
2. What is your character Rani's role in the film? Rani is the hostess at the restaurant, “A Curry on an American Plate.” She is hardworking, pleasant and liked by many, but she will also surprise you!
3. The film stars NBA star Rick Fox and veteran actor Charlie O' Connell. What was it like working with them, and do you share any scenes? So far I have worked with Jasmine Kaur of Ender’s Game and Disney star from Spain, Andrea Guasch. Both of these actresses were incredibly talented, friendly and very down to earth. I learned so much just being around them. I may share a small scene with Rick Fox and I’m looking forward to that and to meeting Charlie O’Connell.
4. Would you say this would be a good date movie or something you can take the whole family to? I would say this is a great date movie that is sure to be a great conversation starter at dinner, so do dinner after the movie at your favorite Indian restaurant!
5. Can you tell us when they are expecting the movie to be released?
I’m not sure yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
6. The cast is a diverse mix of performers from across the globe. Did having such a broad mix of backgrounds make for an interesting production? I have enjoyed my time interacting with Bud Patel, Sean de Vida, San Banarje and Christian Bhalla who are a part of the lead Houston cast. The crew has been amazing as well.Everyone has brought their own unique qualities to the set, which has added so much flavor to an already incredible script. Let’s just say, I have been laughing so hard that tears are coming out of my eyes!
7. Did you feel you had a home court advantage in getting the part because you are from Houston?
Quite frankly, it was a dream come true. Getting the part was nothing I was expecting and when it happened, I felt very blessed to have been chosen.
8. Where you approached for this role, if not what inspired you to audition for your part? Just six days after quitting my job, I enrolled back into acting classes because it’s where I felt at home. Trisha Ray is one of the best acting teachers I have ever had. I saw the casting call, but didn’t try because I felt I needed to take more classes. Then, one night I got an e-mail from Trisha asking me if I’d like to audition. The rest is history.
9. This is your first full length movie, how intimidating was that? I don't feel intimidated, just excited. I think I’m still in the land of, “I can’t believe I’m in a movie right now,” phase. I’m learning so much and I’m making lots of awesome friends along the way.
10. San Banarje and Trisha Ray have written and produced multiple films together, did their combined film making experience make it easier for you to ease into the film? San and Trisha are both amazing to work with. They include the cast and crew in their recipe for success. San has a phenomenal imagination, witty personality and creative vision. Trisha is a talented writer, editor, producer and acting coach. They are also successful actors as well and I’m truly lucky to have crossed paths with them. They are both passionate for the art and just know how to make the magic happen.
11. Aside from period pieces set at NASA, Houston is fairly bereft of films produced here. What do you think could help get the Bayou City on Hollywood screens? We are the fourth largest city in America with a diverse, highly educated population. Texas is known as the third coast, so hopefully, “A Curry on an American Plate,” will spur other writers and producers to utilize the treasures that Houston has to offer.
12. If you could pick a favorite director today to work for in your next project, who would it be? San Banarje is my favorite director right now! He’s pretty easy-going, funny and I have learned so much working with him. I’m up to working with anyone who is as serious about their craft as San Banarje.
13. Previously the majority of your screen time has been on local television. What was the jump like to the silver screen? To have the opportunity to be in this movie is a sense of accomplishment. I work very hard at everything I put my mind to achieve and I have wanted to be an actress since I was about five or six years old. Dreams really do come true if you just believe.
14. Traditionally Indian characters are stereotyped as tech support characters, zany comic relief or just eye candy for many female roles. What can Hollywood do to break the stereotype? It seems that there is a stereotype for everyone. The entertainment business is a subjective one as all roles call for something specific. I do believe Hollywood is and has broken out of many stereotypical roles in the last decade. Thankfully, there are comedies to make us laugh and dramas to make us cry, but at the end of the day, hopefully we have learned a lesson or two from the story we have been told.
15. So are you keeping any souvenirs from the movie after filming wraps?
Yes, San told me I could keep my beautiful red sari.
16. You are known for your signature disco pose among your friends and fans. Were you able to sneak it into the movie? I can say this, there is some dancing in the movie
17. Have you been bitten by the acting bug, are we going to see you on stage or screen again in the near future? I started acting and modeling when I was in college. I was really shy and my mom got me into it. I love acting because no matter who you are, you are accepted because there is a role for you. I enjoy a challenge and with acting, the only tool you have is yourself to dig deep to express the character you have become.
18. If you got to pick your leading man from today's stars who would it be? I like funny guys, so I’m going to say someone along the lines of Steve Carrell. However, I’m one of those people that will work with anyone.
19. And if you got to pick a movie star from any time period? I appreciate many actors and actresses from both film and television. One of my favorite television actresses is Mariska Hargitay. She is hands down phenomenal.
20. Lastly, are you going to remember to thank us come Oscar night?
Yes, right after I thank God and my parents.