Rabinder Parasher climbed to the top of his field when he worked on Bollywood movies. Now, he’s looking to conquer Hollywood as well.
In the 1990s, the Northeast Philly resident served as assistant director to Mahesh Bhatt, an acclaimed director who became one of the most prominent faces in Bollywood film that decade. He worked on the films Dushman (1998), Zakhm (1999) and Sangharsh (1999), all of which were critically praised and box office successes. He also wrote the screenplay for Yeh Hai Mumbai Meri Jaan (1999), also directed by Bhatt, which is a remake of the 1987 Hollywood film The Secret of my Success.
Learning from the best in the industry was an experience he’ll never forget, Parasher said, but directing his own films had always been a dream of his.
“I still remember in 2000 when I left that production house, I declared now I wanted to direct myself,” he said.
But creating your own film, he realized, was harder than it sounds, even with his experience. It took him seven years until he sold a script – one that had somewhat controversial subject matter in India.
“They say child labor doesn’t exist in India,” he said. He recalled seeing a few shoe-polishing boys aged about 8 or 9 at a railway station in Mumbai. He learned their life story, including the fact that because the stations are less frequented on Sundays, meaning they make little to no money.
“I told the shoe-polish boys, I will make a film with you, because there is no greater film than you,” he said. He sent the kids to a few acting courses, but wanted to make sure they were the stars of the film to keep it authentic. Yeh Sunday Kyun Aata Hai released in India in 2010, raising the issue of child labor in India.
Now situated in Northeast Philadelphia, Parasher has created Rabinder Parasher Films of USA LLC. He and his brothers created web series Playing with the Past, which launched on Amazon Prime earlier this year.
The series focuses on a girl preparing for her college graduation speech when a stranger knocks a mysterious rhythm on her door, triggering buried memories of the past. The series was shot in Northeast Philly and stars local residents. It was accepted into the Direct Monthly Online Film Festival in October, a festival giving independent filmmakers a platform.
Currently they are filming the second season. The production house also has a short film coming up, also filmed in the area.