The last time a Star Wars film hit the screens — Attack of the Clones in 2002 — actor Shivaji Dev, grandson of the legendary Sivaji Ganesan, was in college. He remembers getting a Darth Vader costume to watch the movie in. 13 years on, and the announcement of a new three film franchise, his Star Wars frenzy hasn’t dwindled. With The Force Awakens hitting cinemas, he plans to release a fan film, to cash in on the Star Wars fever, using his prized costume for his role.
“Fan films are all the rage in European countries. But the culture doesn’t exist in India at all. Star Wars, The Force Within is an attempt by me and my friends to show the world that there are die-hard fans of the franchise in India, too, especially in my hometown Chennai,” says the fanboy, who took a whole month to make this film. Don’t be surprised if you hear a smattering of Tamil in the dialogues, “included to let the world know that the movie came from Chennai”, says the actor, who produced the 15-minute film along with friends, besides scripting and directing it. He also plays Darth Vader and a Jedi. The cast includes actor MS Bhaskar, who plays a Jedi Master, and Dev’s friends Suja Varunee, Misha Ghoshal and Kanna Ravi.
Despite his illustrious lineage, stardom has eluded the 29-year-old, who has four films to his credit. After his debut Singakutty (2008), tanked at the box office, he went on to study acting and choreography at Balu Mahendra’s film institute.
“I followed it up with a few theatre performances in English and Tamil for a year and a half and then came back to feature films,” he says candidly. Of the other three features, one never saw the light of day and another sank without a trace. “What really came as a big break was Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum, a film for the production house AVM, which was released online in 2014 and got favourable press. I will start work on a multi-starrer with a big name in February this year,” says the actor, who is confident but careful not to make a misstep again.
For now, however, Dev’s focus is on his fan film, which is slated to be released on YouTube in January. That, and watching The Force Awakens a few more times on the big screen and soaking in the Star Wars craze.
— Sharadha Narayanan