His humourous ‘How To’ videos made Wilbur Sargunaraj a YouTube sensation. His movie Simple Superstar, will premiere in the city this evening.
You have seen his music videos and longed for ‘the love marriage’. You have seen his ‘How To’ instructional videos every time you had to use an Eastern Latrine. But you haven’t seen anything till you have seen Wilbur Sargunaraj in his brand new movie Simple Superstar.
And if you are in Chennai, thank your stars because the man is not only screening his film here at the Alliance Française this evening, he will also meet and greet fans at 6 p.m.
The recently-completed film, written and directed by Wilbur Sargunaraj himself, had its world premiere in Canada, followed by a screening in the U.S. The Chennai show is part of the tri-city India premiere of Simple Superstar after Mumbai (November 30) and Bangalore (December 6) screenings to support the Dark is Beautiful campaign.
“I have shot a video with Nandita Das on ‘How To tie a sari’ as a part of the campaign and we will be screening that video along with the movie,” Wilbur Sargunaraj reveals in a telephonic interview ahead of his Chennai visit.
“We want to keep it at the festival circuit first because this is an independent, underground kind of a film produced with help from fans and friends. We are still seeing how to get a commercial release. The Mumbai screening was at an art gallery, a beautiful intimate atmosphere with a small crowd,” adds Sargunaraj.
“The movie is a comedy through social commentary, just like my videos, and I am using humour to promote cultural intelligence. It is a simple light-hearted story of fame and fortune and you will come away with a different side of Wilbur Sargunaraj. It is a funny kind of a film addressing an issue about the colour of your skin. If you always wanted to know who Wilbur Sargunaraj is, the movie will tell you all about me,” he says.
A film-critic friend from Mumbai had described the film as a “desi Borat” but later admitted that “while Borat pokes fun at everyone, Wilbur celebrates everyone.”
How does he react to comparisons with Borat?
“Borat brings people down. I do exactly the opposite by promoting cultural intelligence in a comedic way. Borat is a fictional character played by Sacha Baron Cohen but Wilbur Sargunaraj is who I am. This is about myself. People should come and watch the film without any presumptions. You want to know me? You want to know why I make toilet videos, come see the film.”
He maintains that Wilbur Sargunaraj is not a spoof or an exaggeration of his real self.
“People will have different opinions. Some may like it, some will think it is another crazy video, some may think of it as a musical... But as far as I am concerned, the film is to tell people: ‘Don’t worry what you are on the outside. You are secure as yourself’.”
Wilbur made the film purely through support from fans. His producer Robert D. Stephens was a Mumbai- based architect who stumbled upon his video and said he would produce the film. Wilbur shot his film with a New Jersey-based cinematographer Ben Stamper in Dubai, Chennai, Tirunelveli, Rajapalayam, Madurai and Mumbai in 24 days last year.
The cast includes Bangalore based stand-up comedian Naveen Richard, Jennifer Neecia from Chennai, Chain Jeyapal from Tirunelveli and many non-actors. “Even these screenings are because of friends like Glasgow-based doctor Christine Duncan who came forward to support the film because she loves India,” says Sargunaraj.
Venue: Alliance Française, College Road, Time 6 p.m.; Seating on a first come first served basis and tickets at the door are priced at Rs. 200