The Colombian community of Jackson Heights, Queens had the wonderful character-propelled drama Maria Full of Grace. Now desis (like me!) have this new film, coming out next year- 7 to the Palace.
This movie stars some FABULOUS desi actors, including: Aasif Mandvi (a prolific TV/theater/indie film actor), Naseeruddin Shah (a huge star in India; the father from Monsoon Wedding), Ajay Naidu (Office Space and many bit parts), and Madhur Jaffrey (acting in the US since the 1970s; also a cookbook writer). At the end of August, Aasif Mandvi will ALSO be visting the SAYA! (where I work/volunteer). You may have seen him as the ER doctor in the first season of CSI or on The Colbert Report. He had a major part in the romantic comedy American Chai (a film shot in NYC and NJ). He had the role of Ali Hakim (the Persian salesman) in Oklahoma! on Broadway. I saw him a few times at a small Upper West Side cafe; I used to student-teach in that neighborhood. He lived VERY close to 72nd St and Broadway. BTW, both Aasif and Ajay are natives of Chicago.
As for non-desis… Dean Winters (from the gritty prison drama Oz and the police drama Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit) will have a role, too. Wow!!! I loved his character on Oz, and can’t wait to see how he looks/acts in this movie! He is a VERY charming/engaging actor. He can play a boyish, manipulative criminal (Ryan O’Reilly on Oz) or an earnest, green cop (Det. Brian Cassidy on SVU). Some ladies may know him best from SATC where he played Carrie’s friend with benefits. Dean is actually Irish (like Ryan), BUT also Italian; he grew up in NYC and Arizona. It’s ALWAYS a pleasure to see ANY actor from Oz IMHO!
There were people set up at the corner of 75th Street and 37th Avenue last week. There was a little tent and table with snacks and drinks. No one seemed to be taking notice of the (mostly young and white) group of production assistants milling about. (But this is the type of stuff that catches my eye, and I was coming from the Starbucks over at the corner of 78th.) One of the restaurants looked different because the film crew had changed the awning (it read Tandoori Palace; I’m pretty sure that wasn’t so before).
One day, there was a sign on the corner looking for extras; I was TOO shy to go! Darn!!! Maybe I will get a second chance for 5 minutes of fame…