Singapore is new hub for Indian cinema

Senthil Nathan, center, and his crew take a break during shooting of his first feature film in Singapore.
PHOTO: Nikkei Asian Review

SINGAPORE - A crowd of young Indians were strolling around a public housing block, laughing and chirping away in Tamil. Senthil Nathan followed them, staring intently at his video camera. "Cut," he said, and a smile appeared on his face.

This is a typical weekend for Nathan and the members of his filmmaking group. The 23-year-old Singaporean with Indian roots is currently shooting his first indie feature film in Tamil.

By day, Nathan is a TV director for the national Indian channel Vasantham. He entered the film world at the age of 15, when he moved to India to learn filmmaking skills in Bollywood. Starting off as a "light boy," he worked his way up to become a cinematographer and director. Nathan feels Indian films have a particular charm that lets the "audience switch off their brains and have a good laugh."

Gaining ground

Filmmakers of Indian origin working in Southeast Asia are starting to gain global recognition, even attracting Bollywood stars.

In early September, the Bollywood actress Seema Biswas was busy filming in Little India in Singapore. Instead of Bollywood co-stars, she was surrounded by Singaporean cast and crew working on a Tamil feature film, titled "A Yellow Bird." At the Cannes Film Festival in 2014 the film was chosen for Cinefondation's Atelier, a programme that puts emerging filmmakers in touch with industry professionals for international funding.

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