Interview: Kevin Dalvi - Co-Director, Simanaheen (2013) Bangla Movie Chats with Gurjeet Singh on WBRi
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Washington, DC, March 4, 2013 (Washington Bangla Radio): Kevin Dalvi was born in India and grew up in the United States. His interest in film-making blossomed early on when, through one of his family friends, he watched shooting of the Bollywood blockbuster "Hum Aapke Hain Kaun", including filming of Madhuri Dixit dancing to the legendary Hindi film song "Didi Tera Dewar Deewana". Kevin gets candid with Gurjeet Singh on WBRi about Simanaheen, his career in film making, his other film "Promise Land" that is also about to open in theaters, and next projects.
Kevin was just twelve when he watched shooting with Madhuri along with glimpses of the process of film-making. He knew right then film-making is what he would do. Though it was almost 10 years later that he made his first film, Kevin fondly remembers the shooting of HAHK and still drawns inpiration from it. While growing up Kevin also worked at a studio doing green-screen special effects for car chase and action scenes, picking up valuable directional skills from both technical and creative points of view.
After producing a few films, Kevin wrote and directed his first feature film "Promise Land" - a film inspired by real life stories about South Asian immigrants living in Chicago and the people they encounter. The film was completed in 2012 and just had it's premiere, and opening in theaters on May 18, 2013.
Work on Simanaheen started right after Promise Land was wrapped up. "It's been a busy couple of of years", says Kevin. Simanaheen is a Bengali-language film, and Kevin does not speak or understand the language. However, the cast and crew of Simanaheen were very supportive of Kevin who especially mentions co-director Ria Mahtab, lead actor Rahsaan Islam and lead actress Ismat Alamgir assisting him right from writing the script. "We all wanted to tell a story" says Kevin. "Ria and he told the story through visuals and the music director through music."
Despite the potentially controversial subject of inter-faith romance and weddings, Simanaheen has received no negative feedback from religious conservatives. Kevin attributes the broad acceptance of the film partially to special screenings in Chicago and Detroit which were followed by Q&A sessions with the audience. Excellent questions like the thought process behind the film, and whether the story is relevant in the modern day, were asked. Unfortunately, the issue does continue to be relevant in this day and age. But overall the film is very entertaining and people tend to focus more on the beautiful love stories, the spectacular locations and the music. Simanaheen premiered in Bangladesh on Friday March 1 and is receiving great response there as well.
Going forward, Kevin would like to make one socially meaningful film every year, with a focus on South Asia and not just on North America in terms of cast, crew, and storylines.
Watch Simanaheen Official Theatrical Trailer (Bengali Film)
Drawing inspiration from the romantic classics of yesteryear, Simanaheen is the tale of an eternal search for love told through two relationships in two different eras. Hindu-Muslim relationships don't only experience difficulty during times of partition and terrorism. They exist even today, all around us. Such is the experience of Raiyan and Kavita. Though they live today, Raiyan and Kavita find the same societal pressures around them. Simanaheen is the story of this modern love, the modern barriers to it, and how little has changed since the time of Amar and Suraiya, Simanaheen's pre-partition lovers. It is the story of how we face society and the often-difficult path that stands between us and our love.
Release Date Feb 14 2013
Studio NEQUA Studios
Star Cast Rahsaan Islam, Ismat Alamgir
Directed By Kevin Dalvi, Ria Mahtab
Produced By Sunny Verma
Guest: Kevin Dalvi, New York, NY
Host: Gurjeet Singh, Washington, DC
Recording, Editing, Article: Supratim Sanyal, Washington, DC