origin director creates a bit of Bollywood in Austria
Vienna, Feb 9 (IANS) Indian origin Sandeep Kumar is being
feted for bringing a bit of Bollywood into the lives of movie
buffs in Austria. He is the producer, director and lead actor
of "Kesariya Balam", the country's first crossover
film Bollywood style and he is often asked if he is Shah Rukh
"Kesariya Balam", which is about separation and
reincarnation, is Kumar's first feature film, but he has won
several awards for short films made by him in the past. The
shooting of the film is making news in the country.
"Indian Magic in Vienna" reads one Austrian headline
while "Love Without Borders" is splashed across
the page of another daily. "Leave Reason and Logic at
Home" is the caption in a third newspaper below a photo
of the 37-year-old filmmaker, who is a management consultant
The making of the film is also proving to be a colourful distraction
in a country caught in the throes of winter. Apart from inspiring
the paparazzi to stalk crew members up a glacier in the Alps
and to witness a lusty song and dance sequence filmed beside
the river Danube, Max Leimstaettner from the University of
Vienna is also recording the making of Kumar's film as a case
study for a thesis.
Under the topic "Embedded Industries-Cultural Entrepreneurs
in Different Immigrant Communities of Vienna", Leimstaettner
is looking at questions like the strategies and networks used
to produce art here that is traditionally linked to India.
Yasemin Cetinkaya admits that the winter this year feels a
little more bright, and a few degrees warmer as the 23-year-old
Viennese spends much of her time on the sets of "Kesariya
"It is very interesting for me to work for this film.
It makes me very happy to be surrounded by so many songs,
dancing and colour," Cetinkaya, an ardent Bollywood fan
and production in charge, told IANS.
Cetinkaya also plays a small part in the film about an emotional
relationship between an Indian dance master, his Indian love
and a Viennese actress.
Gerlinde Seitner from the Austrian Film Institute, who visits
Kumar on the sets, points out that Oliver Paulus has already
made "Tandoori Love", Switzerland's hilarious ode
to Bollywood that premiered in Zurich in August 2008.
"It is high time that we Austrians had our own crossover
film Bollywood style," said Seitner.
The son of German scholars, Kumar graduated in management
studies from a German university and has lived in Austria
for nearly a decade. In between his work in the world of finance,
Kumar continued to make short films. And Kumar's passion for
Bollywood has now become infectious.
"When Kumar asked me if he could use garments from my
boutique in the film I promptly agreed. Apart from my love
for everything Indian, it is also good publicity for my designs
to be seen on screen," Herbert Riegler, Austria's leading
fashion designer, told IANS.
While Kumar is happy to have the means to make a feature film,
he admits he had never bargained that Bollywood fans here
would one day ask him if he is Shah Rukh Khan.
Apart from flattering the feathers off him, the question makes
Kumar laugh at the thought that as a child he actually knew
Shah Rukh. Kumar was five years junior to King Khan in school
and his face lights up as he talks about Bollywood's super
In the play "The Wizard of Oz" staged by the students
of St. Columbus at Delhi's Kamani auditorium, Shah Rukh was
the wizard while Kumar had the role of an extra. He recalls
the superstar as a very talented actor who always stood out
from dozens of others on stage.
"But he was mischievous and often punished by teachers
like Father d' Souza," Kumar says to the delight of Shah
Rukh fans in Austria.
Shah Rukh is so popular in Austria that Elke Mader, vice dean
of the Cultural Anthropology Department, Vienna University,
is investigating both online and offline how happiness evoked
by the Indian superstar is expressed and lived as an inter-subjective
Shah Rukh is part of the senior anthropologist's study to
explore the emotional networks of Indian cinema fans in Europe.
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