Writer-director Ravi Kapoor continues his stories about South Asians in the United States with his latest, “The Four Samosas,” described as a Wes Anderson-like homage to Artesia in Southern California.
After playing at the Tribeca film festival “Four Samosas” was picked up by IFC Films and opens in theaters and on-demand Dec. 2.
Kapoor drew a number of desis to work before and behind the camera. His wife, Meera Simhan, and daughter Maya were cast in the film and his son contributed music; plus Venk Potula (“Veep”), Sonal Shah (“The High Note”), Sujata Dey (“Definition Please”), among others worked on the film. Potula and Utkarsh Ambudkar (“Ghosts”) were recruited as producers while Aakash Raj was the DP and Anisha Acharya was the editor. His costume designer, Venk Modur, is another desi.
“I’m always looking out to tell South Asian diasporic stories,” Kapoor says. “That’s definitely an inspiration for me. It’s a lane that I feel I can get into and feel that I have a lot to say in it.”
Getting South Asian actors and crew also helps. Kapoor is discovering more and more below-the-line workers from the South Asian diaspora and likes to collect their information for future projects.
“I’m always on the look out for South Asian crews. Whenever I see them on other things, I am shooting or working on as an actor I’m going, ‘hey you, who’re you? I may need you.’
“It’s not that I only work with South Asian Americans but on these particular projects, when we’re looking at those stories we always have a nice kind of shorthand.”
That also goes for talent. Potula was one such. Knowing the actor also wanted to get into producing, he roped him into “Four Samosas.”
The star was excited to not only topline and produce but also dance in the film. He helped choreograph with Shivani Thakkar. “I’ve always been a I’ve always been a huge fan of Michael Jackson and dancers and our culture, I was excited to bring that to the film,” Potula says. “I did take a few classes and train … I was inspired particularly by the Bollywood film industry.”
He adds: “For me, my community, and culture was always something I embraced. ‘Four Samosas’ is an homage to our community.”
Clearly the merchants of the Artesia neighborhood thought so as most were willing to let the production shoot there on Mondays when the businesses were closed.
“It’s not quite like Jackson Heights in New York or Southall in London, not super crowded,” Kapoor says. It’s also extremely sunny, which was an advantage. “We decided to lean into the heat and make it a real character in the film.”
After a theatrical play the film will stream online including on AMC+ and Hulu.
Kapoor says the film received a “super positive reception in Tribeca. It was fantastic.”
After selling out its screenings, more were added at the fest. But for Potula the really great part of it was his parents’ reaction.
“My parents came, my mom and dad. Pursuing an arts career is not easy., my parents are not in arts in any shape or form. Having them be there … my mom told me, ‘who are all these people lining up to watch your films?’ She couldn’t believe it.”