After being rejected by every institution of higher learning in India, twice, Akshat Verma finally got the hint, packed his bags and left.
While pursuing his MFA in screenwriting at the University of California, Los Angeles, he wrote Say Cheese – it would be 15 years before the script, now called Delhi Belly would find a producer foolhardy enough to stick his neck out for it. But when it did, it was Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, who had previously produced the Oscar-nominated Lagaan.
What qualifies as reasonable expectation from a film that took a decade-and-a-half between conception and execution? Perhaps something in the same ballpark as Citizen Kane? Lawrence of Arabia? The Shining? If not the same ballpark, maybe the same hemisphere?
Don’t hold your breath.
The refrain at multiple public discussions across India has been this:
“This is a film that will destroy 5 000 years of Indian civilization.”
No matter how you look at it, that’s high praise indeed.
Akshat Verma is currently developing a film project and a television mini-series, both set in India.
He has won a few awards on his journey thus far, but they should in no way be considered an endorsement of his writing ability, character or moral fibre.