Richie Mehta's 'Amal' Opens Today @ Varsity Cinemas

Toronto director Richie Mehta and actor Rupinder Nagra are excited for the Toronto release of the award winning Amal. The film, which premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, opens tonight at Varsity Cinemas and local movie goers will finally be able to hear Amal's story.

Without forcing its message, this incredible film starring Rupinder Nagra will make you begin to consider the true value of money, the concept of wealth, and how the poorest among us are often the richest.

Richie Mehta is unlike most directors I've spoken to, and Amal is a true testament to his filmmaking philosophy. His Toronto-based film company Poor Man Productions Ltd. is founded on the belief that film should be strong, creative, and story-driven. Richie also believes in getting it right, taking almost 3 years to polish the Amal script with his brother Shaun in preparation for the full-length version of the film. This included tailoring the character roles around an incredibly talented cast, especially Rupinder Nagra (Amal) and Roshan Seth (Suresh), which made the portrayal of the characters very authentic and natural. The entire movie feels like a familiar fable or a tale of ancient wisdom, but for modern times.

The story derives from questions Richie was asking in his own life: what does wealth mean? What is wealth equated with and what does it mean to different people? Universal issues for sure, however the movie takes place in New Delhi, where caste and class distinction is a natural way of life. Being Toronto-born himself, Ritchie knows the film will carry a very different meaning in Canada and has seen Amal strike a deep chord with Western audiences. "The movie uses money to define wealth, but makes people question just what it is they are contributing to in their quest to achieve it. In India, some people have very little but still consider themselves wealthy; in the West, being an economic superpower, people are taught to equate money with wealth and status."

Due the rigid definition of wealth in the West, the story of Amal could have come across as overly simplistic or unrealistic. However Richie takes great pains to illustrate both East and West perceptions of wealth using different characters in the film. The uncle, Suresh, is almost an embodiment of the Western psyche, a man torn between doing what is morally right vs. logically correct. Amal on the other hand embodies the unquantifiable richness that comes from a happy, humble life.

The role of Amal is surprisingly complex, and is expertly portrayed by Hamilton native Rupinder Nagra. "Having been brought up in the west is always a challenge for me: success is always evaluated by what you have. If you have $100 you want $1000 and it just keeps growing from there. At times I find myself getting caught up in that." Amal has taught Rupinder to constantly check in and remind himself to enjoy the journey of life and not to only look at the final destination. "I can relate to Amal in being content in what you do in life. My career as an actor has brought me happiness and personal satisfaction. However, the interesting thing about Amal is he is totally in the moment. I always have believed that one should live in the moment and always be content in what you do."

Rupinder also has high hopes for the long-awaited Toronto release of Amal. "I hope that it starts a dialogue between people. I think it is tough to say that a 2 hour film will automatically change the way people live their lives but if a film can cause a discussion I think that is a great starting place."

Both Amal and the new full-length feature Richie is working on evolved out of smaller, short film projects. "There was an idea there, something I wanted to explore more because it was an idea I was personally interested in: defining what 'wealth' really means." His new film will look at the experience of war and the game of chess, and promises to further explore Richie's personal philosophies through film.

Amal opens today, Friday August 8th at the Varsity Cinemas in Toronto - don't miss it! This is a unique story which resonates long after the film is over; its 'priceless' message is well worth the cost of the movie ticket.

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