By R. Viswanathan
Prabhakar Sharan from Motihari, a sleepy small town in Bihar, in a way personifies Bollywood’s westward march.
Settled in Costa Rica — a small Central American nation with less than five million people — since 1997, he is the lively hero of “Enredados: La confusion” (Entangled: The confusion), the first Indian to act as hero in a Latin American movie. This is also the first Latin American film made with the typical Bollywood song-and-dance recipe.
Nancy Dobles, a popular Costa Rican TV hostess, is the film’s heroine. Famous local actors Mario Chacon and José Castro also appear in the film. The cast includes a world wrestling champion and Hollywood actor Scott Steiner. Panamanians, Colombians and Argentines have also collaborated in the project.The director is Ashish Mohan, who has helmed blockbusters like Akshay Kumar-starrer “Khiladi 786” (2012). The dance, music and action sequences have been choreographed by Bollywood experts. Teresa Rodrigues of Costa Rica has produced the film, which has been shot entirely in that country.
The film will release in Costa Rica on February 9, 2017, with the President as chief guest. It will also be shown in the rest of Latin America, besides being dubbed in Hindi and English for audiences in India and the US.
The rom-com sees Leo, the hero, carrying out a big robbery. But his life changes when he meets Ana, who becomes the love of his life — but it turns out that he has to choose between money and love. He chooses love and decides to return the money. But confusion starts with an accident, which is followed by a series of risky and funny situations leaving the viewer with suspense and confusion about the money’s whereabouts.
A word about the title song. Costa Ricans, known as Ticos, have a distinct spirit. They do not say “bien” (well) when asked “Como esta” (How are you?). They say “Pura vida” which literally means “Pure life”. But what they really mean is “Full of life” and “Great”. No wonder, Costa Ricans come on top of the Happy Planet Index with the highest life satisfaction in the world. The title song of the film is about this “Pura Vida” philosophy.
Prabhakar’s life story is also like a Bollywood film script. He studied in Haryana and attempted to break into Bollywood but failed. He then wanted to go to the US but somehow ended up in Costa Rica. He fell in love with a local girl and married her. He ventured into the textiles business and later shifted to trading, film distribution and Monster Truck Jam shows.
His ventures failed and he lost money. He returned to India and lived in Chandigarh for two years from 2010. During this time, his marriage broke up and his wife went back to Costa Rica taking their daughter with her. Prabhakar was deep in depression but did not give up. He went back to Costa Rica, fell in love with another woman and lives with her.
The film is Prabhakar’s dream project and he has struggled and worked very hard for its fruition. His biggest challenge was to convince Bollywood to take seriously little Costa Rica with a tiny population and an insignificant film industry.
In recent years, Bollywood has reached out to Latin America for location shooting, inclusion of Latinas in Indian films and co-productions. Pablo Cesar, the famous Argentine director, is currently making a film on Tagore’s romantic encounter with Victoria Ocampo, his muse from Buenos Aires. Mathew Kodath from Kerala, settled in the Honduras, has produced two films in Spanish. Bollywood music and dance are the latest craze in dance clubs and gyms across Latin America.
The Bollywood crew, during the shooting in Costa Rica, did not miss Indian food thanks to the the authentic and popular Indian restaurants “Taj Mahal” and “Naan and Curry” owned by Kapil Gulati from Gurgaon who is settled there, bitten by the “Pura Vida” bug. The favourite dishes of Ticos, according to Gulati, are garlic naan, rogan josh and gulab jamun.
For Prabhakar, the film is only the beginning of his Latino movie “entanglement”. He plans to produce more films and include in his next Barbara Mori, the Mexican actress who was the heroine to Hritik Roshan in the Bollywood film “Kites”. His next film might connect Indian and Latin American characters with shooting in India as well as in Latin America.
Prabhakar’s film initiative will certainly contribute to enriching Indian cinema with the Costa Rica’s “Pura Vida” culture and Latin America’s “Celebra la Vida” (Celebrate life) spirit.
(R. Viswanathan, a former Indian Ambassador to Argentina, is “passionate about Latin America” and can be read on the blog . The views expressed are personal.)