'Break Away' a cross-cultural comedy, Akshay on his first foreign film

By Gurmukh Singh

Toronto, Sep 21 (IANS) Bollywood star Akshay Kumar is beginning his first foreign venture with the shooting of his ice-hockey-themed film "Break Away", an English-Punjabi film that showcases the struggles faced by South Asian immigrants.

"It is a cross-cultural comedy. The story revolves around a Sikh immigrant family - how they cope with cultural conflicts and adapt ice hockey to their new life here. Unlike other cross-cultural films, it will be quite unique and you will have to wait to see it," Akshay told IANS.

"It deals with cross-cultural conflicts, but very light-heartedly. It is more of a comedy about cultural issues," said the star who was in town recently to finish shooting of Bollywood film "Thank You".

To be directed by Robert Lieberman, "Break Away" will have Toronto-born Vinay Virmani in the lead role. The cast also includes Indian-origin comedian Russell Peters.

"It is more of an English film, and Punjabi (dialogue) comes whenever it is required. So basically, it is an English-Punjabi film," said the actor.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: Why does ice hockey form the backdrop of "Break Away"?

A: Toronto-born Vinay Virmani, who plays the lead role, also wrote the script for the film. Since he has played ice hockey all his life, he has woven this sport into the script nicely. I liked it very much as did everybody else. So we decided to turn the story into a movie.

Remember that field hockey is very popular among Punjabis or Sikhs back home in India, and I am told they equally love ice hockey when they come here. So I thought they will find the same kind of excitement and fun in ice hockey in my film. I am also told that the CBC (news website) offers running commentary in Punjabi on this sport.

And you will be surprised that ice hockey is even coming to India as four ice rinks are being installed to promote this sport in the country. So taking these factors into consideration, I thought it was the right time to bring the concept of ice hockey into our films. I have always loved sports, and most of my films centre around sports.

Q: Tell us about the plot of the film.

A: It is a cross-cultural comedy. It is about struggles faced by south Asian immigrants to keep their family values intact. It is about people who come all the way from India, Sri Lanka or Pakistan to settle here and then struggle to retain their identity.

The story revolves around a Sikh immigrant family - how they cope with cultural conflicts and adapt ice hockey to their new life here. Unlike other cross-cultural films, it will be quite unique and you will have to wait to see it.

It deals with cross-cultural conflicts, but very light-heartedly. It is more of a comedy about cultural issues.

Q: Will the film resonate with mainstream audiences?

A: "Break Away" will resonate with not only South Asian audiences, but also the mainstream because Canada is the biggest multi-cultural country in the world today. All immigrants go through the same struggles and conflicts when they come here. Our film is as much about South Asian audiences as the mainstream.

Q: Where are you shooting it?

A: All of our shooting will be done in Toronto. Vinay - the lead actor and scriptwriter - has played all his ice hockey in this city. So the action will begin here in a few weeks. I am sure that Toronto would not have seen anything like this before.

Q: When will it be competed and released?

A: "Break Away" will be about one-hour-and-fifty-minute long. Hopefully, we will complete it soon and it will be released next year in Canada, India and elsewhere.

Q: Will it be dubbed into other languages?

A: It is more of an English film, and Punjabi (dialogue) comes whenever it is required. So basically, it is an English-Punjabi film and we have not thought about its wholesale dubbing into Punjabi.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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