Hot Trend in Hollywood Movies:New Film to Show The Changing Face of America

Samrat ChakrabartiHot Trend in Hollywood Movies: New Film to Show The Changing Face of America
The new Hollywood movie, “Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace” casts Indian actor Samrat Chakrabarti as an all American character. Film director Bruce Leddy breaks away from the Indian stereotype by casting Samrat as one of the leads in the ensemble comedy.

Los Angeles, CA(rushprnews) April 25, 2007 — Art imitates life. But sometimes, Hollywood seems to precede it. At the very least, there are moments when movies demonstrate social trends early on, before they become commonplace in reality. One such example is the character of Will Wozniak, played by Samrat Chakrabarti in “Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace”, opening April 27.

Winner of 7 film festival awards including Best Feature/Audience Award at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, the film is a comedy/drama about a group of guys who sang in a college a cappella group together and are reuniting 15 years later to sing at a friend’s wedding. The experience gives them the opportunity to re-examine their lives and discover how they have progressed — and in some cases regressed — since their college heyday.
Samrat Chakrabarti\u003c/a\>, who was born in London to\nimmigrants from India but grew up in Boston, plays an all American character –\nexcept he’s not the quintessential white American. He is educated, affluent –\nand as brown as they come. But that’s not all. Director Bruce Leddy actually\nretained the character’s name — Will Wozniak — even after Samrat was picked\nfor the role.

It came as a pleasant surprise,” he says.\n”Bruce had the courage to defy minority stereotypes and embrace the random\ncombination of race, social status and origin of name – something that is\nbecoming increasingly common in the US today.” In a world where Apu and\nLong Duk Dong have historically prevailed, a South Asian Will Wozniak is indeed\na breath of fresh air.

Ironically, even the recent Oscar winning “Crash”,\nwhich deals with racial prejudice in American society, leaves room to argue that stereotypes are ultimately reinforced through its characters, not shattered. Yet, Samrat’s view of American society is far from bleak. He justifiably thinks that his Will Wozniak character is a sign of the quiet yet\nsignificant assimilation of Indians into mainstream America. Indeed, there is\nhardly a noteworthy precedent for a Hollywood character that just happens to look Indian, as opposed to being “the Indian”. If it’s not a caricature, it’s often a son or daughter of immigrants (Mira Nair’s “The Namesake”, Gurinder Chadha’s “Bend it Like Beckham” etc.) dealing with their being Indian.

Samrat Chakrabarti, who was born in London to immigrants from India but grew up in Boston, plays an all American character — except he’s not the quintessential white American. He is educated, affluent — and as brown as they come. But that’s not all. Director Bruce Leddy actually retained the character’s name — Will Wozniak — even after Samrat was picked for the role.”It came as a pleasant surprise,” he says. “Bruce had the courage to defy minority stereotypes and embrace the random combination of race, social status and origin of name – something that is becoming increasingly common in the US today.” In a world where Apu and Long Duk Dong have historically prevailed, a South Asian Will Wozniak is indeed a breath of fresh air.

Ironically, even the recent Oscar winning “Crash”, which deals with racial prejudice in American society, leaves room to argue that stereotypes are ultimately reinforced through its characters, not shattered. Yet, Samrat’s view of American society is far from bleak. He justifiably thinks that his Will Wozniak character is a sign of the quiet yet significant assimilation of Indians into mainstream America. Indeed, there is hardly a noteworthy precedent for a Hollywood character that just happens to look Indian, as opposed to being “the Indian”. If it’s not a caricature, it’s often a son or daughter of immigrants (Mira Nair’s “The Namesake”, Gurinder Chadha’s “Bend it Like Beckham” etc.) dealing with their being Indian.

“Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace”

has an ensemble cast that includes Molly Shannon (Saturday Night Live, Superstar), Mark Feuerstein (What Women Want, The West Wing), Rosemarie DeWitt (Cinderella Man, Sex and the City), David Alan Basche (War of the Worlds, United 93), Elizabeth Reaser (The Family Stone, Grey’s Anatomy), Liz Stauber (The Village, Almost Famous) and Reg Rogers (“Friends”, “Miss Match”). A noteworthy feature of the film is its a capella arrangements of songs by Coldplay, Ben Folds Five, John Mayer, Sting, Phil Collins and more.

Samrat’s past credits include Manish Acharya’s “Loins of Punjab Presents” (starring Bollywood star Shabana Azmi), Spike Lee’s “She Hate Me”, Manan Katohora’s “Arya” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0781315/ , Joseph Castelo’s “The War Within” (nominated for INDIE SPIRIT AWARD) and Anjaan Dutt’s “The Bong Connection” (starring Victor Banerjee). This year he will be seen in Ajay Naidu’s “Ashes”, Sarba Das’s “Karma Calling” and Amyn Kaderali’s “Kissing Cousins”. Samrat has also had several guest appearances on television including Law & Order (NBC), The Sopranos (HBO), Love Monkey (CBS) and Hope and Faith (ABC). He holds an MFA in Acting from the ART/MXAT Program at Harvard University, and is an established international musician. He has won numerous awards for his music, including a U.S. CARA for Best Original Pop / Rock Song for his composition “What’s It all About”.

Samrat sums it up eloquently, “A brown man in a white industry, I’m not involved in politics, politics is involved in me.” If Will Wozniak is an indication of the changing times, Samrat Chakrabarti’s rising celebrity star may be one more push for Indians in America to break out of their stereotype. Perhaps life then, would imitate art.

If you wish to interview SAMRAT CHAKRABARTIwritesamrat@gmail.com

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