Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 29 April 2011 00:00
The manner in which 20-year-old Rahul Rai was discovered is, well, almost straight out of Bollywood – India’s equivalent to cinema culture here in the United States.
A graduate of Wheatley High School in Old Westbury and current student at Pace University, Rai was performing as a dancer in the Hicksville-based dance company Bollywood Performing Arts when movie director Nayan Padrai spotted Rai and asked him to audition for the leading role of Harry.“Because of them I was just in the right place at the right time,” said Rai, who started dancing eight years ago as he mimicked moves of Bollywood actors in his basement.
Most of the shooting for the film, which is currently showing at AMC Loews Raceway 10 in Westbury, was conveniently filmed at Pace University in Manhattan. One scene was filmed on the Brooklyn Bridge, Rai explained, before the last portion of the movie was filmed overseas in India.
“Filming the movie was really a labor of love: tedious, meticulous, long days and long hours. By the end of it you’re hoping you can snatch another [role]. Part of the game is to have patience, opportunities don’t come around as they did for me, but shooting was a blast and an adventure,” said Rai.
The movie, according to IMDb.com, is described as, “An Indian-American guy surprises his family when he announces his desire for an arranged marriage with an Indian woman, though his affection for a longtime American friend complicates his plan.”
Rai, in his first role ever, said the movie received rave reviews everywhere it’s been shown, as evidenced by the handful of awards it received at the London Asian Film Festival.
“We’ve shown the film at a few film festivals, like the Austin Film Festival and then we went to Mumbai, as well as London a month or two ago. Wherever we’ve shown the film, it’s had a great response and all three festivals were sold-out. We’re excited for this movie and hopefully the masses will give us the same appreciation,” said Rai, who also offered his take on what it’s like to see one’s self on the big screen.
“To be honest, it’s really uncomfortable. Not to say that I’m not proud of this whole thing, but watching myself in general is just a very uncomfortable experience. I sort of sit in the theater with my coat over my face,” said Rai, who plans on watching in a more private setting once it’s released on DVD.
The young actor is currently a theater minor at Pace and is thinking about a possible major in mathematics and a minor in physics.
“My main focus is acting and hopefully making films, but just in case that doesn’t work out I need a ‘plan B,’ so that’s why I’m in school,” said Rai.
For more information and showing locations, visit www.whenharry tries tomarry.com.