April 25, 2012 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS): The Mumbai-born Lavrenti Lopes, trained at Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York, will be seen in a new international feature film “Love, Lies And Seeta”, to be released in May, 2012. IBNS correspondent Brinda Dasgupta catches up with Lavrenti for a quick chat. Excerpts from the interview:
Describe “Love, Lies And Seeta” – what is the plot of the movie? What is your role like?
“Love, Lies And Seeta” is a romantic comedy about three guys in love with the same girl. The movie has been filmed entirely in New York, and the city’s been shown like it’s never been shown before. I play Bhavuk, one of the three guys. He’s a hipster geek – goofy, silly and very naive.
What special kind of preparation did you undertake, for the movie?
I would meet with the director and discuss the character at length. We wanted to make the character very distinct, so went into a lot of detail – his clothes, his manner of speaking, etc. Leaving preparation aside, my goal all along was to have fun with the character. Bhavuk is the guy that makes you laugh, so it was very important that I kept it light.
When will the other films be released, the ones you have worked on?
“Desperate Endeavors” is scheduled to release in September. “Afghan Hound
The movie has been created for audiences of all ages and tastes. It’s a mix of an Indian and American cast. We’ve had a very positive response from the screening in America, and people really relate to the characters. I’m very curious to see how the Indian audiences receive it. I personally think they will like it just as much as the Americans.
What spurred you on to move to New York?
I was born and raised in Mumbai, studied at Fatima High School in Vidyavihar and chose Science after matriculation. However, I realized Science wasn’t my cup of tea – my heart lay in the Arts, it was something I’d always wanted to do. I started working right after Junior College, for Hutchison 3 Global Services as a Team Coach. At 20, I was the youngest Team Coach they had. It helped me save money for what I really wanted to do. In 2007, I moved to New York for a 2-year acting programme at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.
How did this move affect you, personally and professionally?
Oh, it was tough. All my friends and family, my support system, were back home in India, and I missed them immensely. I would constantly call them. Plus the cultural references were also a little alien. So there were times when I was in a social setting and didn’t know what people were talking about.
But professionally it was one of the best moves of my life. It shifted me out of my comfort zone. I was in a different country, so the expectations were higher. I didn’t want to come back to India as a failure. I had something to prove, so it made me strive harder, gave me more focus than my American counterparts.
Describe your experiences at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.
Lee Strasberg was a very enriching experience. I got to work with experienced industry professionals and hone my craft.
How did you land your first film role?
I was still in school when I read a casting notice for “subHysteria”. I applied for it just for kicks. I did it because I wanted the experience of auditioning – didn’t really expect to get the part. But the next day I got a call saying the part was mine! Filming “subHysteria”
What do you like most about New York? What do you miss most about India?
I was raised in Mumbai experiencing different cultures and traditions, and New York takes that experience to a completely different level. What I miss most about India is, most definitely, the people. Indians tend to put others, first- and themselves, later. New York is amazingly diverse. Right now, I’ve just moved to Los Angeles.
You have worked with industry stalwarts like Melora Hardin and Brian Austin Green – have they inspired you in any way? What has the learning curve been like?
I’m constantly growing as an actor and I hope that never stops. Working with Melora Hardin and Brian Austin Green was an enriching experience. Both of them have had very successful, but more importantly,very steady careers. I think it is very important that one has fun with what one does, and with them it just shows!
What would you say to coming back to India for Bollywood films? What kind of roles do you prefer in particular?
I think Bollywood has grown leaps and bounds in the past few years. It’s almost like a new awakening. Creative risks are being taken – and that’s something I highly appreciate. By all means, I would love to do a Bollywood film, or even a Bengali film for that matter. I think the geography of where a film is made is not as important to me, as is the content.
What, to you, is the most challenging part of the acting profession?
The long hours! There were times when we were filming “Love, Lies And Seeta”, when we went till 7 am the next day. And sometimes the turnaround time was 5 hours. But I really can’t complain – I’m doing what I love doing and that’s what matters.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to read – I’m a big fan of the classics and James Joyce is one of my favourite novelists. I watch a lot of movies as well, I watch tons of independent films. That’s where the real art is. They take a lot of risks, as they care less about the box office success. I love to run marathons and like training for them as well.