My role in movie The Black Russian started with looking at the audition sides. I immediately felt a connection with the role of Francesca. Reading them gave me an organic feeling of fascination, admiration and a feeling of deep understanding. So when I got the part I literally did a flip and stood on my head for a brief moment -) A meeting with director Carlos Vale got me more excited about this project as I really liked Carlos and really was inspired by his vision of my character!
Shot on location in India, this was both an incredible opportunity to see the world and to connect more deeply to my character as this story was set in India. The country and its culture had always been fascinating to me. It happened that one of my friends, actress Christina DeRosa, was also cast in this film. I was so happy to be share the experience and get to know her even more. I honestly could not have imagined the impact this journey would have on me. The trip to the set took two and half days beginning with flying LA to Chicago and on to New Delhi. A night in a creaky New Delhi hotel was followed by a five hour train ride and a 2 hour car ride on mountain roads to our destination in the foothills of the Himalayas.
I don’t think I felt tired at all. More likely I felt energized and was trying to drink in all the things I saw around me. It looked to me as if the life there in the city was vibrant. The traffic was crazy, but people on the streets are so aware. Another thing that stood out to me right from the airport is how beautiful the women look, and that most of them were dressed in a sari or other traditional clothing. It was very colorful, so it looked like big human flowers were everywhere – walking on the streets, riding on the backs of motorcycles…breathtaking.
As soon I arrived on the set Carlos welcomed me and introduced around. I think we had around 70 people on the set. Everybody was so friendly and excited and grateful to be working on this project. Our hotel was surrounded by the Himalayan mountain which made for such beautiful views.
Soon I went to meet Ayushi Jain, our costume designer. Putting on my costumes for the first time was quite a magical moment. There were so beautiful, creative and completed my character!!! Especially putting on the sari was transformational. To be dressed by Ayushi was a spiritual experience. I could feel how much love she put into it!
The day I saw my character Francesca’ house was really amazing too. It was a big, colonial style house surrounded by mountains. Rachael, our set designer did a great job on creating Francesca’s rooms. It was amazing to see the set come alive.
Actually to get to the set was quite a trip J. The road was very scenic with views of waterfalls, valleys and a little village. But it was so narrow, sometimes only room for only one car and so wavy, it’s impossible see what is coming. So I think I learned to trust at that moment and let my fear go.
Francesca’s love interest is played by Yashpal Sharma. We had an incredible chemistry. It was such a joy to create those characters together. Yashpal acted in Lagaan, nominated for the Acadamy Award for Best Foreign Language Film Academy. So, I was honored to act with him, and a little bit intimidated, too. We met for the first time on the set right before our first scene. He was so open and engaged in the process, curious about me, and initiated conversations. I felt very safe and ready to explore my character more deeply. Yashpal is a very giving actor. He has a tremendous respect for the craft and a beautiful talent. The dynamic between our characters was really enjoyable. Our love scene was a challenge for both of us, but thanks to Carlos and our crew it was very comfortable.
I felt this project was a mutual collaboration. I really appreciate how much trust Carlos gave me with Francesca. He also gave me a lot of guidance and pushed me to do my best work. Actor/producer Amar Sidhu impressed me a lot too. He was so sensitive to what was happening on the set and the dynamic between characters. He was very passionate about this film.
One of my dreams in going to India was to see the Taj Mahal. And, I am so grateful that in our busy shooting schedule I had the opportunity to go!!! It was magical!!!! Three of us actresses, myself, Christina & Danielle DiLorenzo went on this journey. And it is quite a journey J. It took a day and a half riding in a car. We stopped in Chandagar and met some friends. And, thanks to them we had a chance to visit the Mother Teresa orphanage also! To see those kids and spread a little love was truly a gift!!! After spending a night in New Dehli and on the way back to the set we learned of a bombing not far from the hotel we’d just left. It was very scary. Thank God for safety!
Yashpal invited me, along with his assistant to go to Shimla where we had a tour of The Gaeity Theatre. It is a mixture of the preservation of the old style theater on the fist floor and a contemporary one on the second.
I finished working couple of hours before it was time to return to LA. It was after 12 pm I was asked to do some
VR. Everybody was so sleepy but I was impressed one more time how professional and respectful they were. So It was our last thing to record just some moning sound. We started to roll but Summit, our first AD did not say action, so I am just trying very hard tot to sleep and thinking that we are recording ambulance sound standing there for 10 min,or so finally Summit said “Anything?” as they were thinking that I need time to get into my character, so respectfully were waiting for all that time, while sleepy me was listening for some airplane noice that just probably must be somewhere J. I think we could not stop laugthing for another 10 min as we felt like we are all loosing our minds.
I left for US that night feeling a little sad at the same time as the shoot was over and I felt that those people became my family and incredibly grateful from the buttom of my nert for this amazing experience!!!!