October 15 is a special one in many sense. It celebrates multi-diversity in the
Australian soil. It pays homage to the Indian Diaspora that has embraced the
Australian sub-continent. It cherishes the beautiful relationship between Meera
played by Tannishtha Chatterjee and Will played by Brett Lee and a lot more.
Last month Anupam Sharma, the director of UNindian joined our team and gave us
some insight of UNindian. This month we are joined by Brett Lee and Tannishtha
Chatterjee the lead actors of UNindian for a conversation. Excerpts from the
Indus Age to Brett : What was it that you decided to do UNindian?
Brett: I just saw it as a wonderful opportunity and when you get the chance to star
in a feature film and to play lead role, I thought I’ve got to grasp this with two
hands. And I didn’t want to get to the age of 50 and think, “What if I did that?” or
“I wish I did that” or “I should’ve done that”. I don’t live my life like that. I live
my life saying, “I will give it a go”, as long as it’s the right thing to do. And, to be
honest, I’d been given a few Bollywood scripts over the last 10 or 15 years, but it
wasn’t the right script or it wasn’t the right time. So UNindian came about at the
right time, right place, I was in the right frame of mind, and I thought, “I’ve got to
give this a go”. And it’s been the best journey ever.
Indus Age to Brett : Everybody’s been talking about how prepared you are as
an actor and the commitment that you have for doing the task. How
important was that to you?
Brett: I think that when you talk about being in a film or being on the sports field,
they’re pretty similar – the commitment, the dedication, the hard work, you’re
playing a partnership and you have to work with a team.
Indus Age to Tannishtha: As a global industry, how important is it that we
should be making films for an international audience, such as UNindian?
Tannishtha: I think we can’t make a film for an audience. We make a film about
a story or about something that we want to share and tell. Tell the story that you
want to tell and in the a that you want to. And what I find very unique about
UNindian, is Anupam’s vision.
He’s of Indian origin but he’s lived in Australia for many years. He’s worked in
Bollywood a lot, so obviously he has a lot of influences from the visual images and
the kind of language that Bollywood has, and yet he is very Australian. That’s a
very unique identity and he’s not trying to say, “I wanna to make something for
this audience or that audience”, he’s just trying to make something that inspires
him and influences him, which is really interesting and that’s why it’ll be
Indus Age to Brett: You shared screen with one of India’s most internationally
acclaimed actresses, Tannishtha Chatterjee. What was it like working with
her and what did she offer you as your co-lead?
Brett: Working with Tannishtha or Tan as we know her, she’s just an absolute
legend. You will not meet a more genuine person than Tan and she’s such a
fantastic actress. When preparing for the film, I watched many of the movies so I
knew how fantastic an actress she is. And then we spent 14 hours a day together
over six or seven weeks – so we got to know each other very, very well, and we
built up a great friendship and trust over those seven weeks.
She is an absolutely beautiful person, she’s a great actress, and I think when you do
trust someone and when someone’s more experienced in that field than you, I was
trying to be like a sponge, I was trying to learn off her as much as I could. And she
Indus Age to Tannishtha: Brett Lee, the actor and you get to be opposite him
in his first feature film. What’s it like working with Brett Lee on set?
Tannishtha: It is fabulous. I mean, he’s really, really famous in India because
cricket is really huge, but having known him as a person is something that I’m
really enjoying. He’s a beautiful person and that’s what comes across on screen.
He’s very, very funny and Will’s character is someone who has that charm and that
fun and I think he’s brought that out really well.
Indus Age to Brett: Anupam Sharma, this was his first feature film as a
director. He’s been involved as a commercials’ director, as a producer of
hundreds of productions in Australia. What was Anupam’s advice to you?
What did he give to you as a director?
Brett: I’ve had the pleasure to work with Anu over the last probably 10 or 12
years; we have made commercials together and I had a small cameo role – just a
few hours on set – on a film Anupam was involved with. So, going into this film,
the trust was there straightaway. Anyone who’s worked with Anu knows that he’s
the most trustworthy guy that you’ll ever meet. He’s got a heart of gold. He wears
his heart on his sleeve. The way he’s so passionate about his work.
When you’ve got someone who is passionate about their job and who wants to get
out of bed every single morning and turn up to work and try and make this
particular film the best that it can, you’re on a good path. I think that I’ve always
tried to associate myself with positive people in my life. I want to be associated
with good people and he’s one of those good people.
Indus Age to Tannishtha: What was it about this project that made you want
to be involved?
Tannishtha: What really kicked in when I read the script for the first time is that
yes, it’s a beautiful rom-com which flows really well, but it’s the woman’s
character which is so modern and contemporary and independent. The screenplay
breaks a lot of clichés that we sometimes see as men and women or Indian or non-
Indian. All those clichés it breaks in a very funny way. That’s what I really liked
about the screenplay.
Indus Age to Tannishtha: What is it like working with a visionary like
Tannishtha: What I really like about Anupam is, he thinks out of the box and that
is why I think his vision is a little different from a lot of people. In this story he is
telling a very contemporary story which is very global. It has the cultural colours
that Indian films have and Bollywood has, but it has a very global story structure
which an international audience can relate to.