By Arun Kumar
Washington– In Trinidadian slang “Bazodee” refers to a state of dizziness or confusion in love. London-born actress Natalie Perera was in a somewhat similar state of mind as she prepared to portray an Indian girl in her first Bollywood musical with a difference.
Set for release Aug 5, “Bazodee is completely unique, like nothing you’ve ever seen,” she says of the film, set on the vivid colourful island of Trinidad and pulsing with the sensuous dance rhythms of distinct Caribbean Soca or the soul of calypso music.
“I would describe it as a musical dramedy and a love story about a girl with an East Indian heritage who lives in Trinidad,” Perera told IANS in an interview.
It “showcases Trinbagonian culture and traditions in the most beautiful way,” she said of the film by Emmy-nominated director Todd Kessler and starring Bollywood star Kabir Bedi and music superstar Machel Montano.
“Machel’s music and Soca is the most energetic, infectious and colourful kind of party music that manages to have huge amounts of heart,” she said.
Perera plays Anita Panchouri, “a young woman, who lost her mother at a very young age, is very close to her father and takes care of him and everyone around her. She thinks she’s got it all figured out until she meets Lee and is knocked sideways”.
“I worked hard finding an accent that would fit with Anita’s Indian heritage, her international schooling/ fiancé from London and a slight Trinidad flavour,” Perera said.
Hanging out with the wonderful local actors and crew, she “learned more about Anita’s cultural surroundings. The process felt very organic for me”.
“I love making all types of genres of film as long as I’m hooked by the story,” said Perera. But in “Bazodee” she was required “to sing, which was different to my past experiences and a most pleasurable one at that”.
Attending “Soca Fetes where Machel Montano was performing was a massive perk”, Perera said, describing shooting in beautiful Trinidad and Tobago as an experience “I will always hold dearly”.
“Shooting J’ouvert (the beginning of Carnival street celebration with oil, mud and paint) is rated highly for me because I and Anita were experiencing it for the first time, and it’s such a liberating part of their very rich culture.”
“I love the food, especially the doubles, and of course Soca music, which is the fusion between the two dominant ethnic groups — East Indian and African.
“I love the way Trinbagonians, no matter their heritage, come together for the Carnival (national festival) and enjoy it together like nothing I have ever experienced before.”
“The cast of Trinbagonian and London actors were such a joy to work with. There was a sense of fun and team work on the set,” Perera said. And “working with Kabir Bedi was an absolute blessing”.
“What a fabulous voice!. Even though he’s such a big name, he was so obliging and humble in his dealings with me, giving me helpful tips and tricks that only a pro would know.”
Classically trained at London’s Royal Central Drama School, Perera has worked in several theatrical productions, including Shakespeare’s “Anthony and Cleopatra” and Mukul Ahmed’s “A Golden Age”. “Bazodee” was her second film after German feature film “Der Koch.”
“Essentially both mediums of storytelling require the same background work and sense of play,” she said. “But the lesson I learned very quickly from my experience with film was to reserve my energy during long shoots.”
Perera said she “was thrilled to work with Kessler,” a veteran of children’s television. “He was the efficient captain of “Bazodee’s” crazy party ship and a wonderful leader at that.”
“I would imagine that children are a challenge to work with on a film set,” she said. “It requires patience, the right amount of energy and discipline and Todd definitely has all those virtues which definitely made our job as actors run smoothly.” (IANS)