Dream Merchants Launches First U.S. Film Project
Anil Sunkara is a film producer whose passion for cinema developed early on in life. He started Dream Merchants with his close friend, Abhishek Agarwal, and has produced over 20 films, all of which were made and released in India.
The latest film, with the working title Dr. Abdul Kalam, and currently in pre-production, tells the story of the main character. Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam may not be a household name in the United States, but the man lived a rich and complicated life. He grew up poor, but eventually graduated from Madras Institute of Technology and later went on to become the head of India's missile program. He is known as the 'Missile Man of India,' but certainly devoted his life to public service.
He was unanimously elected to be India's 11th president. He served one 5-year term, after which he returned to civilian status, continuing his life's passion of teaching and public service. He passed away in 2015. The new film follows both the early life of Dr. Kalam, but also his time as head of India's nuclear program. Over a year of research has been conducted on the life of Dr. Kalam, who is often looked at as being a shining example for any world leader. In Entertainment had a chance to speak with Mr. Sunkara about the new film.
Please tell our readers a bit about Dr. Abdul Kalam and what makes him such an intriguing subject for your film.
Dr. Kalam came from rags. He started as a newspaper vendor - he slowly started his life and became a nuclear scientist. He was the 'missile man of India.' He then became the President and served for five years. Until his death he remained an icon; he used to spend his time with children. Even after he left the Presidency he lived a very simple life.
As such a powerful icon in India, why do you think most Americans are unfamiliar with him and his work?
Most of Americans know him only as the man behind Indian nuclear success and the man behind CIA's biggest failure in detecting India's nuclear strategy.
Will the film be based on Dr. Kalam's writings, things written about him, or a combination?
Half of the film will be about Dr. Kalam's early life, based on his and others' writings about him. The second half will focus on how the CIA failed to detect India's nuclear strategy.
You are planning on filming portions in the United States as well as releasing the film in America upon completion. What would you like the take-away to be for American audiences?
We wanted to make a movie on this distinguished personality. We want to make sure this is not just a bio pic but an emotional and inspirational pic. In fact, [Dr. Kalam] became the role model for any president of any country. We want people to see that ambition, blended with dedication and honesty, can make any one surprisingly strong and make them reach un believable heights.
- Joya Mia Italiano
Principal filming of Dr. Abdul Kalam will begin in March 2017. The film will be shot in English and will be released in the U.S. and internationally.
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