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‘Amar, Akbar & Tony’ – Two weddings, a fight, top music and laughs

‘Amar, Akbar & Tony’ – Two weddings, a fight, top music and laughs

April 17 2014

IT’S NOT EVERY day, a British film like “Amar, Akbar & Tony” comes out.

Made with passion and a good heart and a stonking sound track, this is a film that has more than enough going for it, for you to troop down to your local.

Multi-cultural (Britain/London) as we know it: diverse, challenging, difficult, memorable, funny, affecting and if a little predictably, spirited and warming – Londoners know the more you put in – the more you will get out.

Director Atul Malhotra has done a fine job with the resources at his disposal (he declined to tell www.asianculturevulture.com precisely how much) – it may not be “Four Weddings and a Funeral” but it isn’t far off being something of a low-budget Asian twist on that.

ACV
(ACV):Why are we not getting more films like this? And why is there such a lack of diversity in British filmmaking?
Atul Malhotra (above): 'Unfortunately the answer is economics. These kinds of films have to show there is an audience for them. If there’s proved to be an audience, then trust me all the distributors and producers will (back us) and we can make more films and allow our stories to be told in different ways. It’s one step forward, and five back. Look at the pathway for African-American cinema, audiences are in control and we have to say we want to see this kind of film.'
The film does not have a conventional distributor and has been put out by Malhotra and his team.
'We thought if no one’s going to distribute it, we will. I believe we have made a good film, it’s different and I believe there is an audience out there for it.'

In fact, there is little doubt the wedding scenes (not a spoiler), superbly handled, will have you feeling a little soft and gooey. Yes, some of you will think it clichéd and not original and there are one or two others, but let’s give Malhotra, a break – he has made a film which is about much more.

“It’s a simple story about three friends over a period of 10 years. If you were to drop into their lives over that period of time, what would be happening,” explained Atul Malhotra, the very amiable and personable director, writer and producer behind “Amar, Akbar and Tony”.

Actually quite a lot, as it happens. One of film’s great strengths is its depiction of friendship. Sure, there are ups and down and moments of tension and strife, but essentially these three guys, Amar, Akbar and Tony stay true to each other.

Malhotra again: “There’s a point where you’re always hanging around together, having fun and then you have to grow up a bit and take on other aspects of your life and everybody’s journey goes somewhere else, but if you’re tight friends your friendship remains.”

On the surface it’s a comedy of sorts, it certainly starts in that vein, then goes slightly dark and the tone shift is uneasy but does recover and ends pretty triumphantly.

A lot of the credit goes down to the actors and Malhotra but the rest should be given to Rishi Rich, who composed the music for the film.

This hugely talented music producer, who first made such stars of crooners Jay Sean and Juggy D, is now based in America but lending his musical weight – and wife – to the mix has given this film something else.

Malhotra had no personal connection to Rich before they started work on the film.

“I was introduced to Rich through Media Moguls (a PR company) and we connected straight away. I’ve been listening to his music for a long time and he is a fantastic music producer, I knew I wanted him to work on the film. He’s done an amazing score – it’s like another character in the film, that’s an exceptional talent to be able to do that.”

That’s not just film bluster – it really does work and Malhotra, a very genuine sort of fellow (not full of film bs), means it.

ACV
Nita (Manrina Reiki)

“There was one particular crucial scene where we having a real problem and we had tried everything from Radiohead to Indian style music. Rishi said ‘leave it with me’. The next day he came back and we laid down what he gave us and it was just brilliant. It was such a pleasure to work with him, I hope he goes onto do more film soundtracks.”

Oh yes, and the wife. Manrina Reki, Rich’s wife, plays a largely silent but pivotal figure in the film.

Malhotra explained: “The idea behind the character is the hottest girl in Southall and all the guys are after her. I had seen other people (for the role) and it had to be someone that everybody can universally believe in (to be beautiful) and then when I met Manrina through Rishi…”

The rest as they say is history…

The question he often gets asked is, does it have anything to do with the iconic Indian film, “Amar, Akbar and Anthony“…the simple answer is no.

He elaborated: “When I was writing it, for some reason it did come into my head. That film was about three brothers (being separated and then adopted by different families), one a Christian, one a Hindu, one a Muslim. I kind of liked the idea and somewhere it did connect with multi-cultural London. In mine, one’s a Sikh, one’s a Muslim and one’s an Irish Catholic.”

tousemedgroup
One of Atul Malhotra’s many inspirations for 'Amar, Akbar and Tony' was the late great independent filmmaker John Cassavetes. 'He’s a truly independent filmmaker – now I don’t have the strength to be as brave as him as a filmmaker. What I love was his element – whatever it is, just go out and do it anyway, and don’t worry if people don’t like or not, just make the damn film and just be honest with the characters you are portraying. I think that was integral – I quite often see Asians on screen, and I don’t know them, I don’t believe them, I can’t even register the way they string their sentences together, I don’t know these people. People have to be believe these characters, that was really crucial to me.'

There are one or two twists and turns and some surprises along the way, and Malhotra was keen not to give anything away.

An editor/director, who started his career as a trainee with Granada, Malhotra has done a wide range of TV work, from comedy programmes to serious documentaries for Discovery.

“I’ve been developing my personal stuff along the way, making short films and I’ve been navigating towards this and learning,” he revealed.

He persuaded some of the people he worked with to help with the film and that brought us to the ever-thorny question of the film’s finance. He was guarded and said that government tax incentive schemes which encourage investment in British film have helped him greatly.

“It helped to raise and structure our finance,” he opined. “We approached and pitched to people but they are not your traditional film people.”

However he’s done it, he’s made the film and that’s what counts.

ACV
Talent: Goldy Notay, Shide Boss, Amrita Acharia, Rez Kempton, Martin Delaney, Sam Vincenti; The boys - Sam Vincenti (Akbar), Rez Kempton (Amar) and Martin Delaney (Tony)

Top picture: same as boys above; Goldy Notay, Laura Aikman, and Karen David

FOR THE PREMIERE, please see the home page www.asianculturevulture.com

For more info and pictures, please see www.amarakbarandtony.com

Where you can see the film: http://www.amarakbarandtony.com/find-a-cinema/

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture

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