This story originally appeared in the fall 2013 Harker Quarterly.
“Family Party,” the independent film starring Harker students and alumni, finished filming over the summer and is currently in post-production.
The film stars Vishal Vaidya, grade 11, as Nick, who wants to escape a boring family party with his friend Arti to attend a local concert. The film also stars junior Jai Ahuja and 2013 graduates Rahul Nalamasu, now attending the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, and Cecilia Lang-Ree, who starts at Stanford this fall. During production, performing arts chair Laura Lang-Ree and upper school drama teacher Jeff Draper acted as advisers to the cast and crew.
Vaidya said the character of Nick appealed to him almost immediately. “When I first got the part, I read through the script and got a weird feeling of déjà vu,” he said. “The kinds of interactions that Nick had with his parents were completely similar to the daily conversations and arguments I have with my own mom and dad.”
The part of Nick was a new challenge for Vaidya, as it required him to channel a different set of emotions. He previously played Laertes in the Harker production of “Hamlet” and
a troubled teenager in last year’s Student-Directed Showcase. “Nick was a much harder character to play because I couldn’t always rely on strong emotion to carry me through his scenes but rather had to utilize my scene partner, as the majority of my screen time was conversational,” he said.
Ahuja, who plays Nick’s friend Sahil, found the challenge of playing a down-to-earth character was a new experience for him. “Toning down the energy that I normally use for a theater so that it would work well on film was challenging,” he said. “I found that just being around on set was an amazing experience over all. I enjoyed watching everything get set up, the camera being operated, the lights being put in place, and our directors working together. It was exciting to be out in front, and simply to be acting with such a great cast and crew.”
“Everyone in the cast and crew were completely bonded by the end of the shoot,” said Vaidya. “The fact that most of the crew were either in college or had just graduated made it even easier to connect because the age difference was so small.”
The makers of “Family Party” are currently seeking additional funding to get the film through the post-production phase. Once it is finished, it will be submitted to several notable film festivals, including Sundance, South by Southwest and the Toronto Film Festival.
Vaidya said the way the film depicts Indian-American culture is an important reason for it to receive the funding necessary to be completed. “It’s really the only film about Indians I’ve ever seen that views them as normal people with normal problems,” he said. “On top of that, it’s just a really sweet touching story that all sorts of people will connect with.”
“I truly believe that it will help society to get past the stereotypes that we have today, replacing them with a current idea of what life is really like for us,” Ahuja said.
More information about the film, including instructions on how to donate, is available at its website, www.familypartythefilm.com.