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Interview with Indian Actor Amit Kumar Vashisth for "Alpha Beta Gamma" (2022) at 75th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Interview with Indian Actor Amit Kumar Vashisth for "Alpha Beta Gamma" (2022) at the 75th Annual Cannes Film Festival

 

Actor Amit Kumar Vashisth was born in Yamuna Nagar, Haryana, India. He spent his boyhood in Haryana and Punjab where he attended SHCS and DAV college. He later moved to Pauri, Garhwal in the Himalayas for his engineering degree in GBPEC. It was while on that career path that he realized his true dream was to become an actor. He left engineering and went to Delhi where he threw himself into the world of theater. From there, he went to Mumbai where he worked in professional theater and advertisements. And then later to Chennai where he gained a Diploma in Cinematography from Mindscreen Film Institute, MFI. Last, he studied professional filmmaking at the Film and Television Institute of India- FTII, Pune, for P.G.- where he received a diploma in acting. While at FTII, he starred in a musical theater show called “Yahoo-the Karishma of Shammi Kapoor” and traveled with the acting troupe throughout India. He then worked on various short films. He now resides in Mumbai, the home of the Indian Film Industry.

 

Interview with Indian Actor Amit Kumar Vashisth for "Alpha Beta Gamma" (2022) at the 75th Annual Cannes Film Festival

 

Can you tell us about your path to become an actor? Did you always know this is what you want to do?

 

AMIT: I think I always knew that this is what I want to do. I didn’t know how to put a name to that feeling like acting, theatre, singing, dancing, painting, and writing among other things. Now I realize that it was acting all the way, as it encompasses all the other fields of study and draws from them. I have always been a bright student, scoring good grades in studies but I have also been good at other activities like what I mentioned above and gradually, especially in my engineering college, I realized that that was my calling in life. I decided to learn more about the craft of acting by joining an acting school. In my case, it took me around 4 years to join one. I attended the Film and Television Institute of India, FTII, in Pune - a world renowned Institute for Acting and Film Studies. It polished my edges as an actor as well as a filmmaker. 

 

 

What have been your biggest challenges in your career thus far?

 

AMIT: Acting is not considered as a “proper” job in India even now, as the film industry is not “organized” or “professional” enough. It is ruled by some 4-5 major families and nepotism runs all the way. It is very difficult to get a good part or a lead role in a big production being a rank outsider in Bollywood. But yes, there have been few exceptions over the last 3 decades who are doing great work, but they are still considered outsiders even by public audiences. Ironically. out of the four biggest stars of India, two were ranked "outsiders".

 

 

What have been your greatest rewards?

 

AMIT: Studying at Film and Television Institute of India was a dream come true. I was acting before that too, mostly in theatres and commercials, but my dream was Cinema. Entry into this oldest and globally reputed Film school worked like a self-affirmation. It ignited the fire that was slowing down somewhere in me. I met and interacted with likeminded people, was exposed to global students and ideas and I met celebrity alumni. It dawned on me that it’s doable, that I too can act and one day become a star.

 

 

You have worked on several films so far. Is there one you are most proud of?

 

AMIT: I think it’s always the first one, "The Window," a film made on a shoe-string budget. It was very well appreciated and now playing on Amazon Prime Videos. It brought me recognition and credibility as a leading actor, as someone who can pull a full-length feature film on his shoulders. I’m very proud of it.

 

 

Is it difficult to get films made in India?

 

AMIT: No, it’s not difficult to make films in India. but it is difficult to bring them out to the world and to get them released because distributors have their own ruthless checklist of things that are removed from Art of Cinema. Their yardstick to gauge a film is solely from a business standpoint based on money and whether the actors are bankable, as opposed to if the film is good or not. With digital technology, filmmakers thought that things would improve, but they have become worse instead.

 

 

Can you tell us about your film "Alpha Beta Gamma" and the role you play?

 

AMIT: Alpha Beta Gamma is a full-length feature film about relationships, about letting go and moving on and about how difficult it can be. An almost separated husband wife and the wife’s new boyfriend are locked in an apartment for 14 days as per the Covid 19 quarantine rules. The husband realizes that he is still in love with his ex-wife and does everything in his power to get back with her. The apartment becomes like a nuclear reactor and characters, the Alpha Beta Gamma particles. I play the role of the almost ex-husband, almost because although he is separated from his wife, they aren’t yet divorced. So, when he gets locked in with his wife and her new lover for 14 days, he can’t digest his wife’s intimate relationship with her new boyfriend because he is still in love with her. He tries to win her with his nasty love antics that at times go too far and cause nuclear reactions in their relationships. I love this character. It was complex but the director guided me at every step. The director Shankar Srikumar is also the co-writer of the film with Menka Sharma, the other writer and co-producer of the film. It was a great team. We had a lot of fun, as it was shot at the peak time Covid 19 in India. Our team of around 50 cast and crew members were locked in a building. We came out of that building with a film, "Alpha Beta Gamma", which brought us all to Cannes 2022.

 

 

Can you tell us about your most recent work "Arianna Jones"? How have audiences reacted to it?

 

AMIT: “Arianna Jones” is a film which is half French and half English. There are just two actors in the film - Arianna and Jones. Arianna is played by a French girl who is a journalist and activist in real life. She was cast as the role that fit her real-life job description. I play Jones, a King who miraculously returns to life after 5000 years and finds that people are flouting the rules set by him. He wants to end the world, so he is searching for his Queen who he thinks has cheated on him and caused his death because of a secret oath that he and his Queen had taken 5000 years ago. As he is searching for his Queen, he runs into this activist French girl Arianna living in the Upper Himalayas where she runs her Tourist Resort. Arianna decides to help him, thinking that this man has lost his mind, as would anybody else in 2022 if someone told them he is a King and is looking for his Queen from 5,000 years ago and now wants to end the world. It’s a crazy film. It’s still in Post Production and I am sure that the audience will love it. It’s something that they have never seen before.

 

 

You recently attended the 75th Cannes Film Festival. What was that experience like?

 

AMIT: Cannes was a very welcoming, refreshing, and enriching experience. "Alpha Beta Gamma" had a Marche Du Film or Cannes Market Screening which was very well received. Audiences loved the film. My work was appreciated. I am sure the film will score some great distribution deals. Personally, Cannes has been an absolute sixer - if we talk in terms of cricket - the ball was hit right out of the park! I met great people - artists, filmmakers, singers, journalists, etc. I count it among my best experiences so far!

 

 

Why is it so special to have a film play in the Cannes market?

 

AMIT: Cannes Film Market or Marche Du Film at Festival De Cannes is the world's biggest film market with professionals, distribution, and sales agents from around the world. People come with an intent to work to collaborate and co-create. It’s a great platform to present an unreleased film for the global distribution deals and find co-producers for your new film projects. The Marche Du Film has Outlets or Pavilions from different countries and one can visit them to talk about making or distributing a film in their respective countries. There are sales agents who help get the film out in different global territories, all in all it’s a boon for filmmakers and film producers.

 

 

What will you be working on next? 

 

AMIT: I am developing a film of my own which I will present at Cannes 2023. It’s a film that looks at memories of space and time. I have a few other film projects in the pipeline as an actor and I am looking for projects in LA and Europe as well.

 

 

 

Interview by Vanessa McMahon

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