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26-Year Old Hyderabadi Filmmaker Is The Latest Worldwide Sensation

Just when we  thought  it couldn’t get any  better for Asians in  Hollywood  after the  fluke tempestuous  (and  not entirely deserved, I might add) success  of the seasons’s  big blockbuster  Rich Crazy Asians  the film that features  only actors of Asian  origin , yet another Asian filmmaker has taken the global boxoffice  by storm.

And this time,  we Indians have a  lot to be proud of. While  Crazy Rich Asians doesn’t even have  a token Indian representation in  its cast  or crew(I did catch a Sardarji valet in a hotel driveway shot)  Searching, the  new   thriller released  just a week after  the hysterically  applauded  Crazy Rich Asians, is again giving  Asians a  renewed and exceptional  identity in world cinema.

And this one is  directed by the Indo-American  filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty whose  roots are in  Hyderabad.  Chaganty worked for a couple of years  with Google before  gravtitating  full-time to filmmaking.

His stunning directorial  debut  Searching is set in the cyber universe where a distraught father attempts to locate his  missing daughter.

Interestingly Chaganty,  who  grew up on a staple diet of Bollywood and  Hollywood films,pitched Searching to the studios  as a 8-minute short  film. It was the producers who suggested that Chaganty  turn the  short film into a full-length  feature film. The  director initially declined the offer arguing that he  didn’t want  to stretch a  good idea beyond a point.

However  Aneesh  Chaganty  did finally make Searching as a feature film.Released  on August 24  the   film, made  on a shoestrong budget with  Korean star John Cho in the lead,  has already established  Chaganty as  a filmmaker to reckon with. The ultimate compliment for this small-budgeted  blockbuster came from the Crazy Rich Asians crew when they booked an entire theatre  to watch Chaganty’s film.

 The  young filmmaker names Manoj Night Shyamalan  as his main influence. No doubt Chaganty’s  thriller-noire approach to  cinema makes  him  the new ‘Night’  among Indo-American filmmakers. I fervently hope Chaganty’s career doesn’t follow Shyamalan’s trajectory.

There was a time after The Sixth Sense when  Manoj Shayamalan who likes to be called ‘Night’ was seen as the brightest filmmakers from India in Hollywood.And then it all fell apart, film by film.Unbreakable that followed The Sixth Sense was  received fairly. But soon after,Manoj rapidly declined into the night with Signs(2002), The Village(2004), The Lady In Water(2006) , The happening(2008) and worst of all the 3D abomination The Air Bender which apart from other atrocities, also revealed Dev ‘Slumdog’ Patel to be an extremely inept actor.To be honest one thought The Air Bender  to be a kind of closure on Mr Shyamalam’s career as spook merchant.We thought it couldn’t get any worse.

But it  did.

In how many more ways could Shyamalan  tell the same Sixth Sense story over and over again? The eerie has become progressively dreary in Shayamalan’s oeuvre.

I remember just before the release of The Happening(not happening at all)  I asked Shyamalan why his career lost momentum after The Sixth Sense.

Protesting loudly the filmmaker said, “I hear this a lot in India. It feels like everyone is five years behind. You can’t judge my career by the box office alone.”

Agreed, but I do hope Aneesh Chaganty remembers that being the new Shyamalan doesn’t mean that you turn blind  to reality. Night can  never be  described as day.

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