Emily Shah is a Global Indian actor based in Los Angeles, who wears the dual hat of producer in an upcoming rugby biopic 'Jungle Cry'. The Gujarati-origin actor plays Roshni Thakkar in the film based on the real-life story of a group of tribal boys from the eastern Indian state of Orissa who go on to win the Under-14 Rugby World Cup in England 13 years ago. Shah talks iGlobal through the journey of the film, which is set for a worldwide release later this year.
What attracted you to this project?
The project came to my family production company [Bollywood Hollywood Production] and we just knew that it had to be told. It's a true story that nobody knew about, not even in India, outside of the region of Orissa. So, it was up to us to be able to tell the story and bring it to life.
When I read it, I realised there wasn't a female character in it. Roshni Thakkar is the only made up character in the whole film. But it was something that I felt was my responsibility to take on. We live in a world where women are progressing and it's the year of 2020 and there isn't any reason why a woman shouldn't be in a film. As a producer I felt the responsibility to tell the story and as an actress I felt the responsibility to represent women, especially women of Indian descent.
Was it a challenge to find the right kind of actors?
We decided that we either needed to get actors and teach them how to play rugby or get rugby players and teach them how to act. And, we didn't really have the time to teach actors how to play rugby, so we auditioned the rugby players to see if there were any of them who had a performance skill. We were able to find a bunch of them. We brought them on as rugby players and coached them in acting. It was a challenge but it was something that I will never forget and I know how grateful the boys were for this opportunity.