September 10 2015
Still one of India’s most recognisable faces on big and small screen, the veteran actor talks to us about a new UK release and his life as a working septuagenarian…
By Suman Bhuchar
ACTOR Roshan Seth has been steadily making a welcome return to our screens over recent years.
The sprightly 73 year old is currently in Penang, Malaysia where he is shooting for the second series of Indian Summers, and www.asianculturevulture.com caught up with him over the telephone.
Penang is a little Island on the Malacca strait, he informed me.
“I am in a nice old hotel with a great view and am enjoying the work immensely. The quantum is right at my age. I play the Parsi father, Darius Dalal, and don’t have a great deal to do,” he said of his role in the Channel 4 Raj drama. (Please see our TV archive).
Of course, I cannot press him further on this, as he is sworn to silence, and we are here to discuss “Brahmin Bulls” -the forthcoming independent feature film due in select UK cinemas on Friday (September 11).
Seth explained that “Brahmin Bulls” has been made by a husband wife duo comprising writer/director, Mahesh Pailoor and co-writer, producer, Anu Pradhan and this is their first feature film.
“They didn’t make the usual immigrant film of which you and I have seen many,” he said.
“It has steered clear of the ABCD immigrant stories about father/daughter/ arranged marriage, type issues. This is about a father and son sorting out their problems and where everything is possible. I hope you find something a little fresh.”
Seth plays, Ashok Sharma, a widowed forlorn professor in Boston, whose friend urges him to attend a conference in Los Angeles, and after much hesitation, he agrees and it also provides him with an opportunity to see his son, petulant sulky disaffected Sid (Sidharth) and an old love interest, and the film follows their story.
He explained that initially Pailoor and Pradhan had written an ‘athletic’ sort of part for him, where he has to coach his son in tennis. So, he was apprehensive to commit to the part, as he doesn’t enjoy the best of health. However they re-wrote it for him so he had no choice but to reprise the role.
There were other good reasons too – the story set in present day Los Angeles, gave Seth the opportunity to visit a city he had last been to in 1971 on the US tour of the seminal RSC Peter Brook Production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (he played one of the fairies).
The reason why tennis features so much in the story is because Sendhil Ramamurthy “nice fellow, very serious about his work”, played tennis to a very high standard (and travelled the country and had a national ranking in the sport, as he tells us in our video interview*). He is also friends with the director who wrote something around his ability to play tennis to this level.
Seth and Ramamurthy have a great on-screen rapport and the ‘wedding sequence’ is a personal favourite.
Seth is very sympathetic to independent filmmakers and understands how difficult it is for them “to get a film off the ground so when people get it off the ground it’s so important to support them”.
“Brahmin Bulls” features some fine performances from a great ensemble cast including Michael Lerner (who plays his academic colleague and friend, David) they had last met when they were training together at LAMDA (London Academic of Dramatic Music and Art) 40 years ago.
Seth, who is also paired opposite Mary Steenburgen (Helen West in the film), said he enjoyed working with her.
“What a delight to work with, such a lovely actor,” he reminisced, but he couldn’t help observe the differences, between them, commenting that she arrived on set with her makeup /hair type people while he just came with his little sack.
She is part of a power couple, married to Ted Danson (of “Cheers” fame) and acquainted with people like the Clintons.
“I asked her if her approach to work was the same as mine. And she said yes, which really pleased me no end.”
The film has featured extensively on the festival circuit and has been popular choice and now UK audiences have a chance to see Ramamurthy in a serious big screen role and veterans such as Seth, Steenburgen and Lerner add their stardust to it all.
When Seth is ‘resting’ as the thespians put it, he lives in Delhi eschewing the ‘Bombay Circuit’ of networking and namedropping.
He will next be seen in the London film noir thriller, “City of Tiny Lights” directed by Pete Travis.
- ‘Brahmin Bulls’ screens from September 11 at these cinemas in London: Feltham, Ilford, Wembley and Wood Green
Running Time: 1 hour 36 minutes Certificate: 12A
Top picture – Roshan Seth (Ashok) and Sendhil Ramamurthy (Sid)
Video interview Sendhil Ramamurthy about ‘Brahmin Bulls’