Melanie Kannokada, Miss India-America 2007 and an international model is playing the lead in a yet-untitled Telegu film directed by the duo Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K of ‘Shor in the City,’ fame.
Konnakada, who grew up in suburban Chicago, is an engineering graduate from Stanford University. She left her plum management consultant job in New York to follow her heart. Her first Hollywood role was a guest appearance alongside comedy legend David Spade on the sitcom, ‘Rules of Engagement.’ She made her Indian debut with the Indo-American production ‘Love, Lies & Seeta.’
Talking about her Telegu film, the model, who is presently the face of make-up brand Bare Escentuals International, says of her role: “I play a young medical student who was born in India, but goes to the US to pursue her studies. The story takes place right around the time I’m just returning home to India and discovering it all over again.”
Off the set, Kannokada says her heart beats for the less privileged. In 2010, she along with some of her classmates from Stanford University founded ‘Hospital for Hope,’ an NGO that is now involved in the process of building a hospital in Jharkhand in east India.
“The hospital will serve an area of over 100,000 villagers who currently don’t have access to basic health care. We’re proud to say that we’re nearly finished with the construction. It’s all very exciting,” adds the actress who is also associated with the Nanubhai Education Foundation, an NGO working towards improving rural education in India.
‘Kunthapura,’ a decade in the making
The wait is finally over for Joe Eshwar. His debut film ‘Kunthapura’, in the making since December 2001, is now ready for release.
Set in the ‘20s, the story is set in a south Indian village called Kunthapura. Following an excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India in the village in 1928, a decree was issued by the British government to relocate the people of Kunthapura to Thalakuppa. This leads to protests and subsequently a rebellion against the British.
Playing the central role of Krishnappa Narasimha Sastri, a freedom fighter, is national awardee Charuhasan, (brother of Kamal Haasan and Suhasini Maniratnam’s father) best remembered for his Kannada film, ‘Tabarana Kathe’). Connecting with the rebellion of 1928 are two women, a television journalist, Gowri Iyer and a writer, Emma Hall.
Actor and chat show host, Anu Hassan plays Gowri Iyer, whose mission is to find out what happened to a set of rebels who fought the British in 1928.
English actor, Suzanne Roche essays the character of Emma Hall.
Written by Eshwar and produced by Liverpool Film Society and Film Scholars, the film was shot in Pollachi, Liverpool and Prague.
“Krishnappa’s life leaves a question: Have we exploited the freedom we won 65 years ago with blood and tears?” asks Eshwar.
“My film could be called multilingual, as it begins in Karnataka with dialogue in Kannada. Then the language switches from Kannada to Malayalam. Anu Hassan’s character being a Palghat Iyer speaks a combination of Tamil and Malayalam while Suzanne Roche delivers her lines in English.”
‘Kunthapura’ is Eshwar’s first feature film. His short film, ‘The Response,’ was the official entry at the Liverpool Film Night, a film event organised by the Foundation for Art and Technology.
Nandita Das returns to Tamil cinema with ‘Neerparavai’
Award winning Bengali actress and director Nandita Das, last seen in critically acclaimed films such as ‘Azhagi’ and ‘Kannathil Muthamvittal,’ is back in a Tamil film.
Das is currently working on Seenu Ramaswamy’s upcoming film, ‘Neerparavai,’ produced by Udayanidhi Stalin. The film revolves around the lives of a Christian fishing community.
The buzz is that the lead pair of the film, Vishnu and Sunaina have shared 100 plus kisses for a song sequence, the maximum number of smooches for a Tamil film.
“We shot a song, ‘Devan Magale...written by Vairamuthu and sung by Prasanna and Saindhavi. The track appears after the couple meet after a long separation and they express their love and happiness in this way. But these scenes have been shot aesthetically and will not offend viewers,” says the director.