If you are tired of the lackluster offerings on TV and are looking for some mythic action drama to jazz up your lazy fall evenings, “Waarrior Savitri,” which just debuted on Netflix, could very well feature onto the lineup of films that could lift your spirits.
The film, co-starring young Indian American actor and dental student Gautam Sharma, is a modern adaptation of a mythological tale, in which a devoted wife is willing to do whatever it takes to rescue her husband from the clutches of death.
Starring Niharica Raizada, a cardiologist and veteran composer O.P. Nayyar’s granddaughter, in the role of the modern day Savitri adept in martial arts and who will do anything to save her husband; Lucy Katherine Pinder, Britain’s most successful glamour model and actress; and Rajat Barmecha, the film is written and directed with music by Hollywood/Bollywood filmmaker Param Gill, who has made films such as “Rocking Meera,” “Welcome to America,” “Hotel Hollywood” and “Death of Amar.”
Both Gill and Sharma told India-West that they are ecstatic about the film finding a home on Netflix.
“Indie films always struggle for audience because the producers often don’t have extravagant marketing budgets like studio films,” Gill told India-West. “But Netflix is great equalizer. It is an incredible platform for independent films. So, I would say that adding ‘Waarrior Savitri’ to Netflix adds a huge bandwidth to the careers of the entire team behind the film.”
Reminiscing about working on his debut feature, Sharma, who plays Gaurav, the best friend of Satyavaan, in this modern retelling of the Mahabharata’s story of Savitri, Satyavaan and Yamaraj, told India-West, “It’s very exciting for an actor to have a film on Netflix…that in itself is a big achievement. Working on this film was a phenomenal and a great learning experience.”
Describing the film as an “action thriller which poses very intelligent questions in the garb of commercial cinema and introduces the Indian American generation to the legend of Savitri,” Gill said: “This episode from Mahabharata written hundreds of years ago inspires women till this day. The society is locked in aspiration of convenience which poses a challenge to the basic theory of relationships. This story represents sacrifice as extreme form of happiness versus reaching out for material pursuits.”
Gill told India-West that Sharma’s deft handling of the character, replete with his effortless acting and charm, was a wonder to behold.
“Gautam is quite a find. He is an incredible actor who held on his own in a film with stalwarts like Om Puri (‘100 Foot Journey’) and Gulshan Grover (‘Jungle Book’),” he noted. “He thinks on his feet and can improvise a scene very quickly. We are also very proud that he hails from the San Francisco Bay Area and is available for local productions.”
Recalling working with late Indian actor Om Puri, Sharma said it was an “unforgettable experience.”
“He was so down to earth, so welcoming when I first met him,” he told India-West. “Especially for a newcomer like me, he was very helpful. I told him, “I would really like your take on how to improve my scenes, and he put his arm around me and told me, ‘Don’t worry. Bring me your script and I’ll be happy to go over everything with you.”
“Just his presence, his being with us was a blessing and very comforting to know that we have a veteran actor of his caliber to give us the motivation that we need to perform our best,” added Sharma.
“Waarrior Savitri” not only marked Sharma’s debut in front of the camera, it also served as the perfect springboard for launching his cinematography career since he took over the reins for a short while from acclaimed Indian cinematographer Kabeer Lal, known for films like “Welcome Back,” “Kaho Na Pyaar Hai” and “Yamla Pagla Deewana,” when Lal had to make a trip to India during the shooting of the film.
“He took me under his wings and taught me a lot regarding cinematography,” Sharma, who has done school plays and starred in several commercials, said. “He told me I had done a great job. I am so thankful for the wonderful lessons that he gave me. I also shot for the film with aerial cinematography in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. With my passion for cameras, I was easily able to do it…it became an everyday thing for me.”
Gill specified that his work takes him to Hollywood and Bollywood and he is always on the lookout for good talent. Impressed with Sharma’s acting chops, Gill has already added him to the cast of his next film.
“I am in the process of setting up an international film, including both Hollywood and Bollywood stars, and Gautam will play a major role in that film,” he told India-West. “He has this huge ability to quickly adjust to the circumstances in which the film is being shot. He is a team player who is not just looking out for himself but the entire film. This level of commitment is hard to come by in any profession.”
Sharma, who has seen stardom up close since he was a child, said he always wanted to pursue acting. In addition to having a father, Som Sharma, who works for India-West and has come into contact with film celebrities since the ‘80s, Sharma said his uncle started bringing Bollywood celebrities to the U.S. for shows, exposing him to actors and entertainers early and often. (Read how Sharma was cast in “Waarrior Savitri” and his previous assignments in an earlier India-West interview: http://bit.ly/1eVICaL)
The San Francisco Bay Area resident said though he thoroughly enjoys photography and videography and was able to step up to the challenge in “Waarrior Savitri,” acting remains his first love. But he stated that his number one priority is to finish his education, become a dentist and continue acting as a passion.
Sharma recently received his bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University.
“I’m definitely taking up more projects and I have to manage time to be able to do both, but I have to prioritize school,” he said.