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1-888-DIAL-INDIA Featured Actor: Prateek Karkal

Prateek  Karkal
Prateek Karkal

Prateek Karkal was first seen on Houston stages in Shunya’s 2009 production “Everyone Loves a Good Tsunami.” He is back in the role of Ramesh in 1-888-DIAL-INDIA.

Tell me about your theatre background.

Shunya is my first professional long-term theatre platform, although my passion for acting began way back in school and college. I used to get prizes for Dramatics. For a very short period of time I also was involved with a theatre group (Yatri) at Prithvi Theatres, Mumbai although I never acted on stage.

What is it like working with the rest of the cast?

I learn a lot of things from the rest of the cast. Watching them act gives me a new perspective of how I can do things differently. They are all just awesomely talented and simply amazing.

How well do you relate to the character you portray?

I guess I was cast because I am Ramesh even in real life!

What do you enjoy about the play?

I don’t want to sound like a selfish jerk but I enjoy every scene I am in. I have a pole dancing scene –with my clothes on– a making-out scene abruptly cut-short, a scene where I am thrashed by my boss and a couple of scenes with my American clients where I try my best to prevent them from suiciding.

What do you think the audience will enjoy about the play?

The portrayal of outsourcing and the clash of two cultures.

1-888-DIAL-INDIA Featured Actor: Sundaram “Sundy” Srinivasan

Sundaram Sundy Srinivasan headshot
Sundy Srinivasan

Sundaram “Sundy” Srinivasan plays the role of Gautam, father to Ramesh and Anjali, in “1-888-DIAL-INDIA.” He has previously acted in Shunya’s productions of Final Solutions and Everyone Loves a Good Tsunami, as well as Stages Repertory Theatre’s production of Bapsi Sidhwa’s An American Brat.

How did you first get involved with Shunya?

Many years ago, purely by chance. While I had done a lot of acting in university days, a friend told me that there was an audition and it happened to be next door to where I live, I went and got the role of Ramnik Gandhi in [Shunya’s presentation of Mahesh Dattani’s] Final Solutions.

When did you develop your passion for theatre?

I did my first play believe it or not when I was in the 1st grade. I was a deer and had to prance on stage and will never never never ever forget the moment that my deer mask fell off on stage!

What is it like working with the rest of the cast?

Excellent…all have day jobs and from different walks of life but the commonality of a passion for theater.

What do you enjoy about the play?

The cast interaction, the ability to get in the “zone” away from real life and the putting together in practice ideas I keep working on.

What do you find funniest about the play?

Pretty much the whole laugh-at-ourselves and our idiosyncrasies as Indian Americans bit.

This play has some very graphic language. Do you think pushing these types of boundaries is part of the reason this play is so funny?

I do not like the graphic language at all, and feel strongly that the same points can be made without indulgence in shabby vocabulary….but I’m equally happy to go with the playwright and deliver, I just feel that the same punch can be easily obtained without the language.

Shunya’s Writing Group

Thank you so much for all those who came to our last meeting. Due to various personal committments and the intense rehearsal schedule for Shunya’s upcoming play, we have scheduled our next meeting for Saturday, January 22, 2011. Yikes, that’s next year!

In the meantime, we discussed numerous possibilities for common themes/threads that could tie our final presentation/show together.

Some of these ideas include:

What is family?
-Nuclear Family, Extended Family, Family of Humanity
-Appearance versus Reality
-How American individuality affects family life
-Family life versus Public life. Are they really separate? How do they affect each other?

What is the woman’s most important role in society?
-Mother
-Career
-Can you have both?
-Why is the woman’s role of homemaker and mother often given little respect in the “real world”?

The Individual versus Community
-How to find this balance
-In countries like India, often the individual is defined by his or her role in the family and extended family, accompanied by a loss of individuality
-In America, individualism has become so ingrained in how we interact in family life and community life. Sense of community is often lost
-How does the woman help build and sustain community? What it is that women possess (versus men) that help create this sense of community?
-America/Hollywood – It’s all about me. If only you could hear MY story! Self-reliance.
-I am who I am because of who we all are. I would not have a story without my family. Our dreams are interwoven.
-How does faith and belief in a transcendant God bind us together and help define us both as individuals and as a community?

Common theme that came up: Running, Marathons, The Journey of Life, Where are we going? What is the ultimate destination? Who helps us reach the finish line? Does the path change? Sometimes, it’s not about winning, it’s about slowing down, to share the journey with the ones we love.

So over the next couple months, we will be taking some of these ideas and creating our own stories. As we write, we will have a better understanding of how to weave them all together in an interesting, dynamic, and artistic way. Some people may choose to write monologues or dialogues or songs or poetry or prose. Or maybe you just have a few ideas jotted down. Whatever it is – it’s awesome! When we come together, the individual ideas and words will become part of the mosaic we build together. As you begin your writing, feel free to share what you have written on the google group, as it may spark ideas with others. I will use Thanksgiving break to do some writing of my own, so will post soon after that:)

If you’re interested in joining the conversation, please email sara@shunyatheatre.org!
Sara

Soham Mehta’s film “Survivors” on iTunes

Soham Mehta, Shunya’s founder, has a short horror film released on iTunes in time for Halloween.

Dear Friends,

I just want to share some good news with you. My short horror film, Survivors, just went up on iTunes this week for Halloween!

This is the first film that I have directed to get distribution, so it’s extremely exciting. From what I hear, it will be available in the US, the UK, Canada, Ireland, and Germany. The film has already played over 25 festivals, but this is definitely the easiest and most accessible it’s been for anyone and everyone to watch it.

It’s being distributed by Shorts International, a UK based company that specializes in short films. They’re the same company that’s distributing all of last year’s Oscar-nominated shorts, so we’re in good company. They’ve released a slate of horror films to iTunes for Halloween. Unfortunately, all of their publicity is focusing on the films that have stars in them. So the only way anyone will hear about Survivors is word of mouth.

So please download the film, put it on your ipods and phones and gadgets, write a review and rate it, and most importantly, tell your friends about it! I don’t really know if this is just a Halloween thing or a long term thing, so please check it out sooner rather than later.

Here is the link in iTunes:
http://tinyurl.com/392cm27

Some press about the release (although they don’t mention Survivors)
http://www.fearnet.com/news/b20583_short_on_time__check_out_these.html
http://www.shocktillyoudrop.com/news/topnews.php?id=16875
http://www.horror.com/php/article-3368-1.html
http://www.fangoria.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2292%3Abi

In other news, my latest film, FATAKRA, is now complete and beginning it’s festival run. If you would like to keep up with it’s progress, please visit my website (www.sohammehta.com). The site is pretty rudimentary for the time being, but there’s a blog that you can add to any RSS reader to get updates.

I hope you enjoy the film!

All the best,
Soham
www.sohammehta.com