Opening on April 17th, is the British Asian Independent film Amar Akbar & Tony. Directed by Atul Malhotra, the film stars a brilliant cast of actors including Rez Kempton, Sam Vincenti, Martin Delaney, Karen David, Laura Aikman, Nina Wadia, Goldy Notay, and many more.
The film tells the tale of three childhood friends a Sikh, a Muslim and an Irish Catholic who take stock of their lives in contemporary London.
In the coming of age romantic comedy drama, noted actor Rez Kempton plays Amar, whose promising career gets derailed by a turn of events. What happens? Well you have to see the movie to find out!
We got the amazing chance to interview Mr. Kempton about all things AAT and he gave us some fabulous answers and real insight into the film plus so much more.
What drew you to Amar Akbar and Tony?
I loved the script. I thought Atul Malhotra had written a very realistic piece about growing up in a multi-cultural environment that really resonated with me. I totally got these three guys and understood the bond of friendship they have. It’s also very funny.
How would you describe the film?
I would say it’s a coming of age comedy. The story follows our three friend’s journey into mature adulthood – their search for “the one” (life-partner) and the scrapes they get themselves in whilst trying to find that woman.
How do you see the film relating to the classic Hindi film Amar Akbar and Anthony?
Firstly, I loved the 1970’s classic film. This is not a remake but I’d say more a nod to that movie. That film was about three brothers separated in childhood and the subsequently brought up in different faiths. Events lead to the three brothers being reunited and putting right the wrongs done to their family. Our film pays a homage to the spirit of that movie. We have in ours not three brothers but three close childhood friends who even though they come from different backgrounds and faith are the best of friends and share and celebrate each others cultures and values.
Tell us about your character Amar and his arc within the film.
I’d say Amar is the more serious of the three. He feels the weight of his family’s responsibility on his shoulders and is aspiring to make them proud. Events turn for Amar in that his career and future plans get derailed and he has to figure out what to do in order to get his life back on track. His friends help along the way – as best they can
What was the most challenging thing and what did you enjoy most about playing this character?
Amar is a practicing Sikh and I wanted to portray that authentically and truthfully. I did my research and even went along to the Gurdwara to study up in that faith. They guys I met there were amazing. Atul and I also really felt we wanted to get the look right for Amar. Its not very often at all you see a Sikh man in full turban and beard etc being portrayed in lead roles on a British cinema screen. I certainly can’t think of any. So we worked hard to get that right.
I had a great guy called Dev Sandhu who would come and tie my turban for me everyday. He was fantastic and could tie a pretty mean turban as Dev used to be in the Indian army and those guys always look amazing. Whilst wearing the turban I learnt very much a lot of respect for guys that wear them. It’s incredible dedication and also it does take some getting used to. Sometimes I would have such a headache wearing it. It’s tied quite tightly around your head and I have to admit the pressure does build up after a long day’s shoot. I totally respect the guys that have been wearing them their whole lives. It’s real dedication and commitment.
Tell us about working with Sam Vincenti and Martin Delany.
Amazing guys and great actors. We had a lot of fun on set together and I hope that comes across on screen. We actually became very close and the both of them are my real close friends now too. It was like a family on set – not just the actors but crew also. It was one of those brilliant pieces of casting. As soon as we met and started reading together we felt that yes we had these boys – it felt right and that carried on into the shoot and I hope on to screen.
How did you and Sam and Martin prepare and then become the characters and portray the friendship of years in the film?
The bond between the three is really important to the story. The audience has to buy that these three guys are really childhood friends and that they have grown up together. We were lucky in that pretty much immediately we felt we had that even at the auditions. We would vibe off each other and laugh together like real friends can. We didn’t have much rehearsal time at all – one rarely does on a film especially an Independent where time is tight. But the couple of days we did have we managed to bond and get to know each other. The scenes would really start to come alive and they felt authentic. We were really supportive of each other and respectful of each others ideas. Atul was great at keeping us all together.
Then there is also Goldy Notay, Laura Aikman and Karen David, tell us about working with them.
Fantastic actresses all of them! Not only supremely talented they’re fun intelligent and gorgeous inside and out. As the three lads we certainly felt very lucky to be working with these amazing girls.
The director Atul Malhotra is very passionate about this film and the story it tells. What was it like to work with him on Amar Akbar and Tony?
Atul was the glue that held us all together. He had the vision and our job is to make that come to life for him. He’d done such am amazing job on the story before we even got there we wanted to repay him with all our efforts. He’s a brilliant director. Not only with great vision along with our fantastic DOP Jorge Luengras but generous with his actors. He gave us the space to work create and he’d guide us appropriately.
Tell us about shooting a film in London.
This is a London film so London is a strong presence in our film. It’s also my home city and I am very proud of her. Amar Akbar and Tony is a multicultural diverse film and so is London a diverse city with many different people living side by side. The film celebrates those differences and like most people in London we just get on with it. London has some amazing sites to shoot too and even though she can be a very busy city I feel it’s totally worth it because it’s iconic and instantly recognisable. On the whole most Londoners are proud of this amazing city and we didn’t get too many obstacles put in our way to shoot here.
What do you think makes Amar Akbar and Tony so special?
As I said I’m very proud to be involved in this movie. The fact that it a fun film foremost with great actors and some amazingly hot girls it’s a story with heart and a great tale that I feel nearly all our audiences can and will be able to relate to. There’s definitely things in our film which won’t have been see in British films before and I feel that’s important and a step in the right direction.
Have you seen the film, what did you think?
The film had its world premiere at the Mumbai film festival and I was very lucky to attend that along with Atul. We had an amazing response from the audiences. They whooped and cheered and totally got the film. Afterwards they were so generous with their praise. I felt really fortunate to be part of the whole experience.
Tell us about the music by Rishi Rich and what you like the most about it.
Rishi is an important cog in our film. Right from the start we wanted him to do the music. He’s from that area where the film is set and he said from the start that he understood the boys in the film and the fact that he’s so talented we knew he’d give us an amazing soundtrack and he has. It’s totally awesome. Wait till you hear it!!
It seems in the UK, in the US and even other parts of the world there is always a certain Asian character, do you see this changing and did this film work to do that?
I already mentioned that this whole film feels like something fresh and different. It’s British and celebrates what makes Britain great. Her amazing diversity and what Britain does best is make great films with a heart and genuinely funny. We see Asian characters, how I grew up with them and that’s not always how they are depicted on our cinema screens.
What can audiences expect to see in Amar Akbar and Tony?
A fun film with great actors new and established. Some great laughs some tears too. I expect you to be thoroughly entertained after which you’ll be hungry for a delicious curry 😉
Why do you think it is a challenge to get a film like this released?
AAT is an Independent movie. It’s not got the big studios behind it. If Atul hadn’t sweated to make this happen you wouldn’t be seeing it at all. Britain is a tough place to get money to realise your vision as a filmmaker. But with hard work and determination we can make things happen as Atul has done. In the UK we’re still very much dominated by the big Hollywood studios and their budgets are vast in every respect. In order for us to compete with superheroes, alien and amazing special effects we need to make great stories that British audiences will go to see in the cinemas. Without those numbers that show the people that hold the purse strings that there is an appetite for smaller films they won’t get made and filmmakers will continue to struggle.
What are your thoughts on Hindi cinema today?
I’m amazed at how Hindi cinema has moved on and advanced. Like India, Bollywood is kicking and screaming into our hearts everywhere in the globe. Hindi cinema is a proper industry worth billions of rupees and we are lucky that we get to share in the joy those films bring us.
What will we see in you next?
I did a film in Kerala that will be out soon. It’s a UK film called Monsoon Tide and I was so lucky to go to beautiful Kerala to shoot this film. It’s about a young woman’s quest to find out what happened to her mother – set around the aftermath of the Tsunami of 2004. Hopefully you’ll get to see it later in 2015.
We would like to thank Mr. Kempton for such a great interview! Be sure to see Amar Akbar & Tony on April 17th!