Movies

Actor Saahil Sehgal's journey from Vizag to Hollywood

Making a mark Actor Saahil Sehgal   | Photo Credit: Special Arangement

From Vizag to Hollywood, Saahil Sehgal’s journey as an actor has been nothing short of a thriller! As his debut film Basmati Blues gets ready to hit the theatres in India, Saahil says, “It has been a long cherished dream. There were challenges, disappointments on the way. I took the small steps towards my goal. And finally it is happening today.” The film is an American romantic comedy, directed by Dan Baron, starring Oscar-winning actor Brie Larson.

Long wait

For Saahil, it wasn’t particularly a smooth journey to his Hollywood debut. While it took nearly four years for the film to take shape, Saahil’s selection in the audition was another story altogether.

After getting a call from a casting director, he went for auditions. The film’s director had a Skype interview with Saahil, following which he was asked to fly to Los Angeles within a week to do a screen test with Brie. “At that point of time, my US Visa had just expired and I couldn’t get it renewed on time. It was a very frustrating moment for me. But I couldn’t do much about it. A few weeks later when I was in Kolkata shooting for an ad, I got a call from the casting director to come down to Mumbai as the film’s director was in the city and wanted me to re-audition,” says Saahil and he started shooting for the film days later.

The film, which also features Donald Sutherland, is about a scientist played by Brie Larson who creates genetically modified rice and is sent to India where she realises that instead of helping the farmers, it is creating a destruction of a different scale. Talking about his character of William Patel in the film, Saahil says, “Patel is born in India but sent abroad at a young age to study. He returns to India to take over his family business. Basmati Blues shows his tense relationship with his father as well as him being treated like an outsider because of his foreign upbringing. The film has a romantic plot involving my character with Brie and the other lead character played by Utkarsh Ambudkar.”

The film will also see Suhasini Mulay play the role of Saahil’s mother.

Shot in Kerala

Shot extensively in Kerala with a few shots in Mumbai and the US, the film finally could take off this year after going through a series of challenges. “A major chunk of the film was shot in 2013, and then there was a lot of patchwork left that was completed in 2015. It is an independent film, so it had its share of struggles. When we started shooting, Brie wasn’t an Oscar-winning star then. But her winning the award raised the profile of the film and helped the crew,” says Saahil.

Incidentally, what really got Saahil excited about the film was when he came to know that it also stars Donald Sutherland. “I saw Donald Sutherland’s name on the cast sheet put up on a wall during one of the shoots. I was very excited,” adds Saahil, who has a song with Donald in the film.

Incidentally, the film’s trailer released recently was criticised for its stereotypical portrayal of India accusing the Oscar-winning star of Room for playing the “white saviour” role.

While the producers have come forth and given their clarification, Saahil says, “The directors and the entire crew love the culture and history of India. Their intention was not to ridicule the culture. People have jumped the gun and reacted before watching the film.”

Talking about his journey as an actor, Saahil says it was a dream he had cherished ever since he was 10 years old. “I would spend a lot of time watching world cinema and the power of this medium impacted me in a very different way,” he says. With Basmati Blues’, Saahil hopes his acting skills gets noticed and opens up more opportunities. “I am completely open to ideas as long as the heart of the film is in the right place and the character is good,” he adds.

“I believe failures, heartbreaks and rejections are a part of the journey. What is important is to have a belief in yourself,” says Saahil, who is married to actor Kirti Kulhari.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 10:47:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/actor-saahil-sehgals-journey-from-vizag-to-hollywood/article20778348.ece

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