‘Basmati Blues’ criticism based on personal convictions and not real issue: Saahil Sehgal

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Saahil Sehgal (Courtesy: IMDB)

Indian actor Saahil Sehgal will be making his Hollywood debut in the upcoming film Basmati Blues starring Oscar winner Brie Larson and Indian-American actor Utkarsh Ambudkar.

Sehgal plays the role of William Patel, the Indian middleman.

The film, which was shot in Kerala, Mumbai, New York and Los Angeles, is directed by Dan Baron. The trailer of the movie released a few weeks ago, garnered criticism from some in India who labeled Larson the “white savior” and social media complained Hollywood was again “projecting India as a country with bad English, spicy food, song and dance, and nothing more.”

However, Sehgal has a different take on it.

“Reacting this way has kind of become a part of the dysfunction right now. People need to be able to take a step back and give something a real chance,” Sehgal told Times of India, adding, “Because whatever they’ve been claiming, that’s not what the film is about at all.”

According to him, the director Dan Baron and his wife had spent time in India and fell in love with the country. “Yes, the film has a white person coming to India and eating spicy food. But then again, cliches are cliches. I feel the reactions to the trailer have got more to do with one’s personal convictions than any real issue at hand.”

The plot of the movie involves an extremely relevant and topical issue in India where farmers have been committing suicide in increasing numbers according to activists, as they go bankrupt.

An American CEO sends a scientist, (played by Brie), to India to sell a genetically modified variety of rice to farmers in India. Sehgal is the go-between, the Indian contact who helps the scientist convince farmers to come on board. When they discover the seeds are sterile, requiring farmers to be dependent on the company on an annual basis. “What happens next forms the crux of the story,” Sehgal said in his Times of India interview.

“He is basically an Indian, born and brought up abroad. But he comes back to India to take over his family business,” Patel told Times of India about his role. The romantic musical features Brie Larson, Ambudkar and Sehgal in lead roles.

The experience of getting the role, was for Sehgal a dream come true.

“It’s a mix of a lot of things. I dreamt of becoming an actor. And over time, numerous struggles, auditions, acting schools and more, it happened,” Sehgal told Times of India.

The casting director “loved” Sehgal after the audition, he says. “She wanted me to fly down to the US, but my visa had just expired and there was no way I could get it renewed in a week,” Sehgal recalled. But that did not hold things back. “I was shooting for an ad in Kolkata when I got a call and was told that the director and producer are coming to Mumbai and wanted me to re-audition for the role.”

He auditioned, and the rest is history.