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Short & Sweet

We last saw him judge — and weep through — the reality show India’s Got Talent and then he vanished as swiftly as he had arrived

Written by EXPRESS FEATURES SERVICE |
September 3, 2011 12:03:17 am

New,slick promos give a peek into how the on-screen magic will unfold in the next few weeks

We last saw him judge — and weep through — the reality show India’s Got Talent and then he vanished as swiftly as he had arrived. But Shekhar Kapur is back to making news — this time with a short he has directed for the collective-film series New York,I Love You that explores and celebrates the energy of the Big Apple.

The 12 shorts have been written and directed by the German-Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akin,Natalie Portman (directorial debut) and Mira Nair,among others. Interestingly,Kapur was not part of the original project. Anthony Minghella of The English Patient and Cold Mountain had written the segment and was supposed to direct it but he passed away before he could begin filming. Kapur then stepped in.

“Anthony and I met after my film Elizabeth and he liked my work. He had a production company and always wanted me to direct one of his films,but that somehow never happened.” reminisces Kapur. “However,we became great friends. When he began to work on this project,I was on a six-month break at an ashram. One day,my agent called to tell that Anthony was unwell and wanted to see me. I immediately returned and he suggested that I take over the project. I initially refused since we expected him to recover but he insisted that we discuss this once he returned from the hospital. Sadly,he never did.” Kapur,bound by Minghella’s last words,took up the project.

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The 11-minute segment captures the contrasts in the lives of a retired opera singer (Julie Christie) and a young bellhop (Shia LaBeouf) with a limp and foreign accent,against the backdrop of a New York hotel. Kapur confesses that initially he did not understand Minghella’s vision,but remembered his words that most people spend their lives not valuing it. According to critics,Kapur,64,has lived up to the expectations. It wasn’t easy for the Indian filmmaker as he inherited a script for a 20-minute segment. Kapur’s first job was to cut it short. “Anthony had already scouted for locations and completed the pre-production work. We shot the film over two days and the cast,though big names,flew down in a day’s notice.”

As New York ,I Love You readies for release on December 18,Kapur is excited but does not have too much expectation since short films don’t always go down well with the Indian audience. “The long form is used to reach out to the audience. You do short films to express yourself.”

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