Actor Arfi Lamba, who worked in films like Fugly, Singh Is Bliing and Prague, has now donned the role of a producer for the film LOEV, which is based on the storyline of male bonding. In an interview with International Business Times, India, Arfi talked about his experience as a producer, actor and what he plans to do next.
International Business Times, India: From a government job and acting to producing films – tell us about your journey.
Arfi: Well, it's the stuff that films are made of. As I look back and connect the dots, all I want to do is go back and hug my scared young self, who took a lot of steps out of impulse not knowing what will happen. So many nights of disappointment, so many others of being disillusioned where I would have just gone ahead and quit it all, I still do not know what kept me hanging in there. I just want to go back in time and tell myself that it's okay you will be fine. Oh, the journey from the mundane existence of a super secure nerdy job with a 9-7 clock to the world where I am selling people new dreams and touching their hearts in more ways than one is the stuff dreams are made of.
IBT: What prompted you to turn producer with a film that deals with a sensitive topic like homosexuality?
Arfi: I never saw it as a gay love story. That's why I said yes. The idea was to see a love story as a love story. This script just did that. We do not call a boy meet girl story as a straight love story. Then why do we label everything else, which is not the norm? Labels are actually not to make us understand things better, they are actually to ostracise and discriminate that what does not belong to the majority.
It's 2016 and we are still discussing whether homosexuality is a crime or not. Gay rights are an issue and people are fighting to be perceived as normal. This is shocking. Not that my business partner Katharina and I decided to back LOEV with all our might.
IBT: Your film LOEV is about homosexual relations in India. Do you think the Indian audience will accept the theme of the film?
Arfi: If they can't then all the more reason that they should see it. LOEV is not made with the intent to shock you. LOEV is not about men falling in love with men. LOEV is about love. And how love is merciless towards us all no matter what our sexual preference is. The audience the world over has showered overwhelming love on our film. Why should India be any different?
IBT: The film will be screened at the 18th MAMI Festival 2016, so when can we expect a theatrical release of the film?
Arfi: We don't know yet. The fact is it's one of the most audience-friendly films I have seen in the recent past. I cannot forget the hugs the tears and the discussions it has led to after every screening. Over 35 film festivals and 100 plus screenings across the globe and we do not have a release date. Save that, we do not even have a distributor in India. It baffles me. The business and numbers make sense. Maybe it's because of the subject and prejudice against it?
IBT: Tell us about your second project as a producer.
Arfi: The road to Mandalay is a feature film Katharina, my business partner spotted in Cannes 2015 and we worked hard to secure WCF for it. The director MIDI Z is a magician in his own right and it was a pleasure working with our French, Taiwanese and Burmese partners. This movie will touch your hearts as it shows how the dreams of a better life can make us like machines and kill love.
IBT: You have acted with stars like Akshay Kumar, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan and others. How was your experience working with them?
Arfi: Akshay sir has been an inspiration. Even at this stage of being a superstar, his dedication, hard work and love for is craft is exemplary. I, unfortunately, have never shared screen space with Irfan and Anil sir as I had a very small role in Slumdog Millionaire.
IBT: So, will we see actor Arfi in films in the future or you are just planning to produce films?
Arfi: The actor in me can never die. Acting is my first love and first dream. That's what keeps me going. That said, my love for good cinema will keep motivating me to work hard for Bombay Berlin Film Productions to make it a name to reckon with.
Producing for me is also like playing another part. We all do role-play. Sometimes behind the camera, and sometimes in front of it. I am one of the few lucky ones who has been able to wear both hats and especially have been able to romance the camera in a believable way and I hope that this romance between me and movies never ends.