SAN FRANCISCO — The creators of “The Matrix” trilogy have assembled an international cast of stars, including Indian actors Anupam Kher and Tina Desai, and Indo-British actor Naveen Andrews, for their new science-fiction series “Sense 8,” scheduled to be available for streaming on Netflix June 5.
At a world premiere and red carpet event for the series held here May 27, both Desai and Andrews said they jumped at the chance to work with “The Matrix” creators Lana and Andy Wachowski because, as Andrews put it, “they’re artists.”
“The Wachowskis are known for making really amazing work, as is (J. Michael) Straczynski,” Desai told India-West.
The series follows a group of eight strangers from different parts of the world who suddenly find themselves psychically connected to one another. These individuals are known as sensates.
Andrews plays an older sensate named Jonas who, along with Angel (Daryl Hannah), acts as “parents of the cluster.”
Desai plays the role of Kala, one of the eight new sensates, who is a Mumbai scientist with a strong belief in God. Desai said Kala is supposed to be “marrying someone who everyone considers an ideal guy,” even though she’s not in love with him.
“And so I’m trying to battle my problems of whether I should marry the guy who everyone thinks is right or whether I should follow my heart, which could lead me to more trouble,” Desai said.
The actress said she was drawn to the project not only by the complex script and international cast and crew, but also because of the opportunity to play an Indian character in a show with the “unique concept of being a sensate.”
Desai also said she enjoyed being able to work with Kher, who plays her father, once again.
“Mr. Kher is someone I’ve worked with from my very first Hindi film,” Desai told India-West. “He’s been like my mentor and guide ever since.”
Andrews pointed out how the series couldn’t have happened without the support of Netflix because of the number of locations to which they traveled to.
“I can’t think of another network that would have done it,” Andrews said.
Grant Hill, executive producer, said that filming was “logistically complex” because the crew had to travel from city to city every few days.
“We made the decision right at the start that we had eight actors, eight characters in eight different cities spread all over the world. We wanted to actually film all of their work in that city; we also tried to use all local actors,” Hill explained. “That made the cities into sort of a character.”
The other seven sensates are played by Miguel Angel Silvestre (Mexico City), Tuppence Middleton (Iceland), Brian Smith (Chicago), Aml Ameen (Nairobi), Doona Bae (Seoul), Max Riemelt (Berlin) and Jamie Clayton (San Francisco).
Ameen, who plays a Matatu bus driver named Capheus, noted that the message of the show was more important now than ever.
“With all the things going on in the world right now, to have empathy for other people’s lives is such an important part of growth,” Ameen said. “The prism of the whole show, like ‘I am we,’ I think is something that the world needs a lot of right now.”