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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

a white Liverpudlian making merry in Indian Cinema ~ Amy Jackson

An elderly English woman,  almost at her deathbed in London, wants to come down to Madras in search of a young man whom she last saw on 15th August 1947 to return a thali of his mother, which he gave her as a sign of stating that she belongs to India and nobody can separate them. However, after a turn of events, she had married another man from her hometown and thus felt that the thali was no longer her property. – no prize for guessing this storyline !

An article in Daily Mail is titled -  ‘She's a white Liverpudlian who couldn't speak Hindi: So how did this English rose blossom into Bollywood's biggest star?’

Liverpool Football Club, is a Premier League football club based in Liverpool. Liverpool F.C. is one of the most successful clubs in England and has won more European trophies than any other English team with five European Cups, three UEFA Cups and three UEFA Super Cups. In spite of their successful history, Liverpool are yet to win a Premier League title since its inception in 1992.

Liverpudlian  refers to – a native or resident of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.  In Soccer, it refers to  someone connected with Liverpool Football Club, as a fan, player, coach etc. Liverpool is a city in Merseyside, England, on the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary.  A booming port, Liverpool was the port of registry of the ocean liner RMS Titanic, and many other Cunard and White Star ocean liners such as the RMS Lusitania, Queen Mary, and Olympic. Liverpool's status as a port city has contributed to its diverse population, which, historically, was drawn from a wide range of peoples, cultures, and religions, particularly those from Ireland. The city is also home to the oldest Black African community in the country and the oldest Chinese community in Europe.

That reference as ‘white Liverpudlian’ is to Amy Jackson- the Daily Mail article says : She is one of the hottest stars in Bollywood, currently seen shaking her sari next to a muscle-bound hunchback in the most expensive and ambitious film ever to come out of India. She receives thousands of letters, most declaring undying love, many asking for her hand in marriage. She has a chauffeur, a make-up team and stylist, a cleaner, a cook and a personal assistant. It is all the more surprising, then, that Amy Jackson, who was 23 yesterday, is a white girl from Liverpool with a girly Scouse accent more reminiscent of a cutesy five-year-old than a silver-screen sex siren.

Her extraordinary story has taken her from the quiet suburban streets of Walton in Liverpool to a jet-set life which means she is mobbed if she sets foot outside her limousine in Mumbai, Calcutta or Madras. Her new film, called “I”, is even pulling in crowds here in Britain where she is largely unknown. Yet she freely admits that her film career is a matter of pure chance: she had done no acting at all before her 2010 debut and couldn't speak a word of Hindi. “I” is Amy's fifth Indian movie and is directed by Shankar Shanmugham, the country's answer to Steven Spielberg. Loaded with special effects, it took her three years to make – and takes audiences three hours to watch. It tells the story of a top model (Amy) who enlists the help of a local body builder (Chiyaan Vikram). The pair fall in love before he is deliberately infected with a hideous virus and turns into a gruesome hunchback. He then seeks revenge on the people who ruined his life.

That didn't seem to bother leading Bollywood director A. L. Vijay, who happened upon Amy's modelling picture after she won the Miss Teen World beauty contest at the age of 17 in 2009. They met in London two months later and he offered her the lead role in his 2010 movie Madrasapattinam. 'I'd never acted in my life,' she says. 'A. L. Vijay asked if I could dance and I just said yes. I didn't tell him the only dancing I had done was on nights out in Liverpool. He said he would arrange workshops and help me with the scripts and the language. He liked the fact that I was English but had an Indian look.'

So, just before she turned 18, Amy and her mother, Marguerita, a horse-riding instructor, found themselves in India meeting other actors and trying on costumes. Amy recalls: 'I'd never been to India or anywhere like it.  While her friends spent their Saturdays getting 'curly blow drys' at the local hairdresser before hitting the town, Amy was working 20-hour days in Madras, trying to learn the language. Her south Indian voice was dubbed on to the pictures, but she did learn her lines in Tamil, an official language of India, so that her lips would be in sync.

Amy now splits her time between her sister's home in London and her two-bedroom, apartment overlooking the Arabian Sea in Bandra, Mumbai. Because of the crowds she attracts, she is flanked by two burly bodyguards, Adrian and Max, wherever she goes in India.  At London, everything is calm and she is just Amy and when she comes to India, she is mobbed !

Madrasapattinam is a 2010 Indian Tamil period drama film, written and directed by A. L. Vijay, acclaimed for its storyline and its pre-Independence Madras settings.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
3rd Feb 2015.


PS: I don’t write much on Cinema, yet this piece read in Daily Mail was pretty interesting and hence the post.

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