There’s Hollywood. There’s Bollywood. Then there’s Bobby Khan.
Bobby Khan will try, fail, and try again to crossover from Bollywood to Hollywood when Raising Desi Production’s "Bobby Khan’s Ticket to Hollywood" debuts this year.
A venture of California-based Atif Mirza and Tarun Shetty, Raising Desi Productions has gained popularity through its online show, "Desi OC" (short for Orange County in California), attracting at least 1 million hits online.
With the standard sunshine, palm trees and pretty faces of a young adult drama, Desi OC follows young South Asian Americans and their friends through the dating scene, family life and career woes.
“We essentially go off of what we’ve been experiencing ourselves,” Mirza said.
Since Shetty is a stand-up comedian, adding a few laughs to the script is a given. Inspired by comedian/actor Ben Stiller, he embodies the fish-out-of-water Bobby Khan, complete with thick accent, bandanna and awkward sleeveless workout shirts.
“I don’t embarrass myself,” he said. “I take comedy very seriously.”
Mirza, who directs and edits an Indian television show, and Shetty met while hosting "Generation Desi," an entertainment segment on Showbiz India. They started Raising Desi in 2005.
Their contacts from Generation Desi and Hollywood helped them launch their first webisodes of "Desi OC" and find support for their first feature length film.
Shetty said their goal with Bobby Khan is proving that Raising Desi is a serious film production company that can produce, create and shoot content – which he says is rare in Hollywood.
The duo, who have both attended film school, started co-writing "Bobby Khan’s Ticket to Hollywood" in July 2007, and began shooting four months after. While they received offers for funding the film, they chose to have private investors and maintain their independence.
“We are a very small production team, but we can shoot stuff at a very high level,” Shetty said.
He said holding auditions and choosing cast meant holding high standards. "Desi OC" cast member Lak Rana has acted in CSI Miami and Scrubs, while Shetty himself has been in television commercials. Comedian Russell Peters also makes an appearance.
While the storyline and cast of Bobby Khan are centered around South Asians, Shetty defines the movie as indie (independent) rather than Indian. But Mirza also said recognizes that with success, Raising Desi can foster budding South Asian talent.
Raising Desi Productions wrapped up their last day of shooting on Nov. 9, 2009.
“Part of me just wants to release it for free on the internet so everyone can enjoy it," Shetty wrote on their Web site. "However, too many people have worked really hard so we’ve got to play the Hollywood game a little bit and see where it takes us."
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