Chayan Sarkar was in Corinth, Greece, last week for the world premiere of his Australian film The Sleeping Warrior, a drama that connects Hinduism with Aboriginal spirituality.
The Indian-born writer/director/producer/actor continues to shuttle back and forth between Paris and his home in Brisbane shooting Je pars pour Paris, an experimental, no budget movie done guerrilla-style.
The Los Angeles-based Fries Films has boarded two of his upcoming films. Waves is a romantic comedy focusing on an Indian man whose passion is surfing, with a screenplay by Bollywood writer Bhavani Iyer from a story by Australian Sharon Dickman. Charles Fries will produce the film with Sarkar's Bollywood Dreams.
The Last Weaver is a Sarkar-scripted story of a silk weaver's struggle to continue his ancient Sufi tradition in India, competing with Chinese mass-produced silk and imitations of traditional motifs. Fries Films has worldwide sales rights to both projects, which Sarkar will direct.
Sarkar tells SBS Film The Last Weaver will be filmed in Kerala, India and he intends to shoot Waves in Australia, although it could be filmed in almost any location that has an active surfing scene, such as Hawaii or Fiji.
The Sleeping Warrior (pictured) screened in competition for the Golden Pegasus award at the Peloponnesian International Film Festival. The plot film follows an Indian man, Rishi, played by Sarkar, who travels to Australia to run a spiritual workshop on Goddess Kali in an area regarded as sacred by Aboriginal people.
At the workshop Rishi meets Safia (Natalie Blair), who owns an Aboriginal art gallery and buys paintings from indigenous artist Maka (Crusoe Kurddal). Safia discovers human remains in her garden and the police investigate to determine if they are Aboriginal. This causes tensions as the non-Aboriginal inhabitants fear they may lose their land and houses if the government declares the area is protected by the Aboriginal Heritage Protection Act.
Sarkar and fellow producers Hugh Scarlett and Sharon Dickman raised the budget privately and he is working on international sales with Paris-based Constellation Factory. An Australian distribution deal hasn't been finalised yet.
“The inspiration for this film came from my interest in spirituality and its connection to the Mother Earth, both in Hinduism and in Australian indigenous culture,” he says. “I believe that Australian land is very powerful and spiritual and that it has been looked after wonderfully for thousands of years by the First Nation's people.”
Chayan, who grew up in Kolkata and moved to Australia in 1996, has performed, produced and directed Indian folk and popular music plays in India, Europe and Australia. His multimedia performances include Snake Charmers and Snake Goddess, Bhagavad Gita, Bollywood Dreams and Bollywood Dreamgirl.
He describes Je pars pour Paris, in which he appears with Alexandra Pille and Sarah Reinking, as the story of a man and woman who adore the city of Paris but are stuck in Australia.
As for his upcoming projects, he says, “The Last Weaver has a budget of $2 million and we have secured 25 percent of it from Hollywood. Hopefully we will get the entire finance by the Cannes Film Market 2013. The budget for Waves is $5 million and we have the finance but are still waiting for leading actors from Bollywood to give me dates.”