You may not have noticed, but Buffalo is quietly becoming a showplace for Indian films that is, films made in India -- that play here in either a weekly run or as a special event.
At 1 p.m. Sunday in the Eastern Hills Mall Cinema, the film "Panjaa," a "gangster movie with a Mafia connection," will be shown. In attendance will be the movie's screenwriter Rahul Koda, who makes Buffalo his home.
"Panjaa" was specifically written for Indian superstar Pawan Kalyan, a common occurrence in Indian filmmaking. "In Hollywood, you come up with a script and then cast," Koda says. "But when you're dealing with a big star in India, you tailor-make the film for him. Stars are like superheroes in India. That's something you have to tread very carefully around and not show the actor in a bad light."
When he was writing for Kalyan, Koda says, he played upon the actor's strength -- his screen presence, especially in action and romance. "In the commercial mainstream Indian cinema the genres all overlap. You can't call it action. There will be some romance, there will be music, there will be other things and that's what the fans expect.
Also unlike Hollywood, the process is extremely fast. Koda began writing from Buffalo in August 2010, working remotely with director Vishnu Vardhan. He then went to India where they brainstormed off the basic plot.
"The actors dates are very precious so you have to hit the dates he gives out for shooting. It's a lot of pressure to finish a script and get it to a place where it's good enough to shoot. It was very fast," Koda says. "It was a lot of fun, too."
-- Toni Ruberto