Actor Ajay Naidu’s directorial debut Ashes screens during the 6th Annual Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival on Sunday, May 15 at 5:30pm, at the Regent Square Theater, 1035 S. Braddock Ave in Edgewood, PA. Faran Tahir, Samrat Chakrabarti, Firdous Bamji, Heather Burns, Maurice Carr and Piper Perabo are also featured in the Ashes cast.
The 6th Annual Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival, presented by the Silk Screen: Asian Arts and Cultural Organization, runs from May 11 -15, 2011.
Ajay Naidu is an award-winning actor, filmmaker, dancer, director, M.C., vocalist and writer. He has worked extensively in film, television and theater with more than 50 onscreen credits. He has appeared in the films Office Space, K-Pax, π, Requiem for a Dream, Bad Santa, The War Within, The Guru, Waterborne, The Loins of Punjab Presents, Where the River Runs Black, Vice Versa, Touch and Go and many more. When Naidu’s portrayal in SubUrbia as convenience store owner “Nazeer Choudhury” garnered him an Independent Spirit Award Best Supporting Actor nod, his formidable competition included Roy Scheider and Sam Jackson. He can currently be seen in Ashes, his directorial debut in which he played the title character, served as writer and director. Ashes was nominated for Best Film, Screenplay and Director, after the film screened at New York’s MIAAC Film Festival in 2010; Naidu took home the prize for Best Actor at MIAAC and the London Asian Film Festival. Ashes also won Best Film of the Festival at the Queens World Film Festival.
Samrat Chakrabarti and Ashes filmmaker and star Ajay Naidu at the MIAAC screening of Ashes at the SVA Theater in New York on November 12, 2010. Naidu was named Best Actor for Ashes at the Festival Photo by Lia Chang
Naidu trained with the American Repertory Theater’s Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University. In 2000 he mounted his first solo theatre piece entitled Darwaza [the door] which was produced by New York’s Labrynth Theatre. It combined Ryhming, Masks, Breakdance and Mudras taken from the Natyashastra- the ancient Sanskrit text on performance. His most recent theatre credits include a world tour of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure with Simon McBurney’s -Theatre Complicite, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui alongside Al Pacino, and The little Flower of East Orange alongside Ellyn Burstyn at The Public Theater.
Naidu has working with musicians from the Asian Electronica and classical movements as a dancer and M.C. for many years. His vocals have appeared on numerous records including Talvin Singh’s Mercury Award winner “OK”, his second album “HA”, and several recordings with prolific musicians Karsh Kale and The Midival Punditz.
Q&A of Ashes - A film by Ajay Naidu at the Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival, SVA Theater in New York on November 12, 2010. (l-r) Ajay Naidu, Debargo Sanyal, Atul Ohri, Samrat Chakrabarti, Ajay Naidu, Reena Shah & Ajay Mehta. © 2010 Lia Chang
Ashes, short for Ashish, (Ajay Naidu) is a small-time New York City pot dealer. He is also the primary caregiver for his mentally ill older brother Kartik (Faran Tahir). Ashes is the courageous and gritty directorial debut from actor Ajay Naidu. Shot entirely on location in New York, Naidu’s assured direction and murky palette convey the realism of Ashes’ world. Caught between familial duties and a losing battle to maintain a sense of morals while dealing marijuana, Ashes environment begins to close in on him.
Kartik returns home from a mental health facility, eager to begin a productive life. With a sometimes tenuous grasp on reality, he holds dearly onto his brother and his girlfriend, Bettina (Piper Perabo). Bettina is a fellow patient from the facility and begins growing distant, increasing Kartik’s stress level. Ashes watches helplessly as his brother fights and suffers in anguish.
Kartik’s battle for sanity is paralleled with Ashes’ struggle with the drug dealing community that surrounds him. Determined not to deal “hard stuff” Ashes, nonetheless is drawn deeper and deeper into a violent and corrupt world. The world includes Jasmine (Heather Burns) one drug dealer’s (Pinky as portrayed by Firdous Bamji) girlfriend who is part of a dangerous entanglement with another player in the hustling game, Rishi (Samrat Chakrabarti). His troubles mount as he finds himself in over his head and up to his neck in a heroin operation. There appears to be almost no reprieve from the grime and danger of the New York that Ashes and Kartik inhabit. Their only solace comes in their brotherhood.
Listen closely for a razor sharp score that sets the tone in frequently unexpected manner. Ashes is a serious and soulful debut from a serious up and coming director. With Ashes, Naidu has shown that he is a singular force to be reckoned with. Ashes Website
Regent Square Theater: May 15 @ 5:30PM
1035 S. Braddock Ave
Edgewood PA 15218
Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Photos: Samrat Chakrabarti, Soham Mehta and Shiva Shankar Bajpai at the New York Indian Film Festival
Samrat Chakrabarti stars in Soham Mehta’s Fatakra, Shiva Shankar Bajpai’s Raju, and Rehana Mirza’s Zameer & Preeti at NYIFF
MIAAC Screens Ashes & The Waiting City, two films featuring Samrat Chakrabarti at SVA Theater on 11/12/10