When you think of Ajay Naidu, you immediately drift off to Mike Judge’s 1999 film Office Space and think of Samir. Indeed, lots of small roles in films and TV series since then — sort of typecast as the go-to character from India (although born in suburban Illinois).
The point is that you just don’t associate Ajay Naidu as a filmmaker; a director. Green Apple Entertainment will give you the opportunity on Sept. 24 to reconsider that with the DVD debut of his 2010 first time directorial effort, Ashes.
The film has been working the festival circuit since 2010, piling up wins for acting, directing and the film itself (MIAAC 2010, London Asian Film Festival 2011, Queens World Film Festival 2011, etc.) and now with the move to the home entertainment market place this deeply-felt dramatic tale will have access to a much broader audience.
The reviews have been solid … those catching the film on DVD will not be disappointed.
A keen visual eye (perhaps acquired from his lengthy career in front of the camera), a solid cast (that belies the indie budget) and a focused (intense) story all mark this debut filmmaking effort from Naidu. It is an absolute certainty that this will not be his last film as a director … he’s got all of the tools to move beyond the self-produced indie world.
There are two stories woven together here. Or, perhaps better stated, unraveling here. The first finds Naidu as a smalltime grass dealer with the handle “Ashes.” He has a limited clientele (think: ethnic) in New York City and has managed to stay below the radar.
The second element to the film is his relationship with his older brother Kartik (Faran Tahir — Warehouse 13, Iron Man, Star Trek, etc.), a self-aware and seemingly intelligent man who is marching inevitably to the dark world of insanity as his Schizophrenia gains ground over time. Naidu does what he can to help, but there is an underlying sense of despair; a hopelessness.
With his brother’s health in decline and his own “business” opportunities somewhat limited, the stage is set for his relatively simple world to come unglued when he is approached by Pinky (Firdous Bamji), a drug dealer with a much broader distribution base, who takes him “under his wing” with the promise of a more lucrative lifestyle.
Of course that move to the “big time” has consequences … also included in the cast of Ashes are Piper Perabo as Kartik’s companion — she has issues of her own — Reena Shah, Peter Macon and Heather Burns. Impressive!
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