Out-of-the-box drama

Updated: Mar 19 2006, 05:30am hrs
Born into one of the richest Indian families in the world (her dad is Ashok Hinduja) Ambika Hinduja, 27, didnt do the obvious and join the family business.

Instead she chose to start her own production company with friend Dinesh Vijan Serendipity Films has produced an off-beat quaint film about an outsider struggling to get inside himself called Being Cyrus, hitting screens on March 24.

It wasnt easy for Hinduja to be take up filmmaking seriously in the beginning. I know a lot of people initially didnt take me seriously. They might have felt, that since she comes from a big, business family, shes probably doing this as a hobby.

But I have always wanted to make films since I was nine years old. And life is about what one should eventually do to make one happy. I was always more of a creative person. Besides, I didnt want to get into something that I didnt understand very well, she explains.

A graduate of the London International Film School, Hinduja started off by assisting Subhash Ghai for Yaadein, and worked on Farhan Akhtars Lakshya. Her first film as a producer, Being Cyrus beats all kinds of stereotyping. I didnt want to start off with a conventional, run-of-the-mill Bollywood masala flick because that didnt excite me.

I wanted to do something out-of-the-box." Being Cyrus has been raved about at film festivals in New York, Israel and France. Being Cyrus is a dark, intelligent film like nothing thats come out of India before.

Contrary to popular belief, Hinduja didnt have it easy setting up her company. Dinesh and I used up all our savings, operated out of our own homes (which doubled up as our office) and met various scriptwriters. In fact I met Homi Adajania (the director of Being Cyrus) by accident. I had gone for a haircut at Oshi Bhabani's salon and he recommended Homi to me. Shot on 17 live locations in Mumbai and Panchgani with sync sound, in a 34-day schedule, Being Cyrus stars Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia and Naseeruddin Shah in the lead.

As a movie producer, Hinduja likes to be hands-on. I was also the casting director and looked after the creative side. We organised workshops and reading sessions.

For someone who admires Roberto Benigni and Majid Majidi, the love for cinema is a given. Hinduja has plans of producing a contemporary urban comedy by Kunal Shivdasani (starring Fardeen Khan and Ritiesh Deshmukh). Besides that, shes got a rough draft of her own directorial debut to take off in 2007). I want to make good cinema which people appreciate, she says.