"Playback Singer" gives you a peak into the lives of a 30-something couple, Ray and Priya, as they work to cope with a surprise visit from Priya's father, a playback singer from India. The visit brings up insecurities and family issues the couple had been happily ignoring. Vijayan wrote and directed the film. Vijayan says a night out with her Mom brought her to the story, "I took my Mother to Disney Hall, which is a big concert hall here, we went to see a woman named Asha Bhosle who is a very well known playback singer from India. Before her came on this guy, that was also a playback singer, but he was a sort of pompous, slightly older than middle aged guy. He would talk about himself and he would sing a little. At one point my Mother leaned over to me and she just said, 'You know his father was a big playback singer but he's just second rate. He just does TV.' And I thought, OK...I thought that was kind of an interesting character, kind of a washed up, a pompous playback singer."
For awhile the idea stayed nestled in the back of her mind, until she was ready to make a film. Vijayan liked the idea of telling the story of a washed up playback singer, but due to time and financial issues knew that she needed to bring the story to California. "I started to think about how he could get here and then I came up with the idea of a daughter who he had been estranged from who was an Indian American, a professional. Then I started to think about her family and what her life was." Her life turns out to be complicated, she is a career driven woman determined to succeed while her husband aimlessly mills around the house. An unexpected visit from Priya's father forces everyone to reevaluate their relationships. During the writing process Vijayan says, "I knew that it would be a story primarily about those three characters and, sort of, their evolving relationship."
Vijayan was able to bring filming close to home, "The main location is my house. The secondary location, the backyard, is my Mother's backyard in Pasadena. The other places were mainly begged and gotten, or stolen in some instances." The film was done on a micro-budget and Vijayan took to heart advice from her fellow indie filmmakers, "limit the number of locations, limit the number of characters and write to places you know you can get." Her home and that of her Mothers were easy places to get.
Vijayan and her husband are making the long drive from LA today, with plans to be at the screening tonight. Of the drive, Vijayan says, "a little painful but we figured it might just be easier to have our car there when we get up there."
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