G: “Was it the issue of student suicide that led you to believe that The VALLEY would eventually make it to the “Big Screen?”
S: “Many people reacted so positively to the script, it made me hopeful. But it was a long evolution until the final product, and then seeing an audience reaction.”
She posed for a few photos before I mentioned, “Alyy’s character is similar to one we could hear about on CNN. A group of shocked and confused office workers will say, ‘The Boss wasn’t like that at work. We didn’t even know he had a gun.'”
G: “The moment he gets the unlicensed pistol, to help investigate the suicide, the plot makes its last turn. I take it you’re not a big fan of guns.”
S: “Things are getting out of control. Especially at the schools.”
G : Do you want to hear my review of Alyy?”
G: Looking at my notes, I stated, “Alyy Khan delivers a restrained yet powerful performance as he and debut director Kariat mesmerize the audience by reigning-in the gun-totting CEO, pulling him one step back from the edge, allowing the ticking time bomb to deafen.”
S: “Not bad.”
G: “Ok, www.dumkhum.com
will print it. And by the way, has home cooking ever tasted as good?”
She grins, before asking, “What else did you like?”
G: “The cinematography was award-worthy.”
S: “Paul Nordin’s work. What scenes caught your eye?”
G: “My favorite was the pool at night when the CEO and his daughter (well-played by Agneeta Thacker) try to talk but can’t because their relationship is frozen. At the same time, Nordin captures the reflection of the water frenetically warring on their faces, creating a metaphor of screaming unspoken dialogues…foreshadowing her suicide.”
Saila smiles proudly.
G: “What about the overhead shots of Alyy in the BMW convertible on the Pacific costal highway? They must have messed-up your budget.”
S: “It was a drone.”
G: “What about the music. It was so royal.”
S: “I hired music composer Jacob Yoffee for the western classical sound. On a limited budget, he produced a 14-member orchestra and composed the lovely score.”
G: “It lifts the movie. The location too. Alyy was impressed with the mansion.”
S: “It’s a 8,100 sq. ft. Tuscan Villa in Los Altos Hills. One of the executive producers, Andrea Batista, lives there. She let us use it.”
G: “Sounds like you got ‘a little help from your friends.’ Anyone else you’d like to acknowledge?”
S: “I’d like to thank Aki Fujimura. He was the first investor. He took a chance…believed in the “stop student suicide” theme and script.
G: “What’s next for The VALLEY.”
S: “Our India release is March second at Inox and PVR theaters.”
G: “Alyy mentioned you had gotten a distributor for the UK and India. How?”
S: “I worked like a dog for over a year. I was the ‘catch person’ for The VALLEY.”
S: “Thanks. Right now in India, our trailer is being shown before the Black Panther movie. So, we’re excited.”
Then she spoke with some Dallas reporters.
Soon, Alyy and I strolled across the parking lot to the film festival party at the renowned Indian restaurant SAFFRON.
I pigged out on savory chicken tikas, shrimp and paneer. (Shamelessly, I returned for seconds.)
Alyy, Ash and Suchitra were treated to the chef’s “special” dal and subji.
An hour later, Alyy, Ash and I were in my Honda, taking a moonlight drive on the beltline. Moon roof open, we talked while listening to Mozart sonatas, marveling at the iconic Dallas skylines’ collage of sizes, shapes and colors.
Yet when we eventually got back to Addison and their Marriott, Alyy repeated his claim from before: “You almost killed us.”
Ash complained, “Twice, you went down the wrong side of the road.”
I muttered, “Just briefly.”
Alyy probed, “How?”
The truth was that Ash’s slow, miscommunicated, backseat GPS directions were the reason.
So, I played with their minds by claiming, “After almost twenty years of driving in India on the left side, you come here and have to drive on the right. So once in a while the old conditioned-reflexes kick in.”
They both sprouted expressions that said, “you’re joking, right?”
That ‘incident’ was dismissed as Alyy showed me cellphone photos of the mansion he is constructing in Karachi.