The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Director on Indian face hunt

Mumbai, Aug. 30 (Reuters): What does it mean to be Israeli' Who is an American' An Indian' And does it really matter'

Intrigued by such questions and the whole notion of identity, Israeli filmmaker, Avi Nesher who has made several Hollywood hits seeks answers through his next movie.

Director of films such as Doppelganger, starring Drew Barrymore, and MGMs sci-fi thriller, Time Bomb, Neshers current project is based on a true story about Indian and Moroccan immigrants in Israel more than 30 years ago.

It was my father, who was born in Europe, lived in Israel and died in New York, who inspired me to make a movie on the question of identity, Nesher said.

Each sentence my father spoke had three to four languages, and his notion of identity was totally obliterated by the time he died six months ago, said the 50-year-old director of the highest grossing Israeli movie, The Troupe.

Nesher, who lives in New York and Tel Aviv, left India today after a week-long trip scouting for Indian stars to feature in his latest work Mondo Moderno A Modern World. Although he has not finalised the pair who will play an Indian married couple, Nesher has drawn up a shortlist after meeting 30 people, including top Bollywood stars.

Its very important for me to have Indians in my film because they will make the characters credible, said the filmmaker, adding his movie was about a group of Indian and Moroccan immigrants who hated each other initially while settling into a new town in the Negev desert in 1968.

Matters get complicated when a married Indian man has an affair with a tempest-uous Moroccan woman who was the scandal of the town. The wife then enlists a Morroccan in her fight to get her husband back.

Although the film is based on true incidents, the director draws on his own multi-ethnic experience born in Israel, growing up in New York and married to an Italian to explore the nuances of identity.

Im very American and Im also very Israeli, said Nesher with a broad grin. Its very difficult today to identify what is an Israeli because people are comprised of many cultures.

Shooting for the film, the first Israeli one with Indian stars, will start in December and will be released next summer.

Nesher, whose latest Hollywood film Ritual with Jennifer Grey and Tim Curry is set for release soon, said various members of the Mondo Moderno cast would speak Hebrew, English, French and Hindi to reflect the languages spoken by the immigrants.

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