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Film Interview: Rez Kempton and Martin Delaney (Amar Akbar and Tony)

We sent HTF’s Estin Micklewright to talk to the stars of what looks to be the next big British Film ‘Amar, Akbar, And Tony! ‘

Amar-Akbar-TonySet in the heart of London’s Asian community, ‘Amar Akabar and Tony‘ follows the lives of three childhood friends over the space of 10 years. Tracking the trio as they make the transition into adulthood we witness the highs and lows of their relationship. Even seeing it brought into question in both hilarious and tragic circumstances.

Directed by Atul Malhotra, Amar, Akabar, and Tony looks set to be a British film making sensation. So we sent HTF’s Estin Micklewright to have a chat with stars Rez Kempton (Amar) and Martin Delaney (Tony) to find out a little more.

HTF: Hi there Rez & Martin, thanks for speaking to us.

So we are here to talk about your experience working on ‘Amar Akbar and Tony’. Lets start with a somewhat lazy question from me, but a great opener none the less. How would you describe This film in your own words and in just one sentence?

Rez: The story of 3 childhood friends as they go through love, loss and redemption

Martin: Well in one sentence, I’d say: It’s a comedy drama coming of age movie, about three friends from West London & their search for love.

HTF: What first attracted you to this role?

Rez: Amar is a great role to play & I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to bring him to life. When Atul first gave me the script to read I just loved the piece as a whole. The film just really resonated with me. It felt the most authentic, realistic depiction of life as I know it growing up in multicultural Britain. Amar is an ambitious young man and I could certainly relate to that. In the current climate, young people I feel are under more pressure then ever to be successful and high achieving. Amar is the one out of the three with dreams of bettering himself and becoming a success. When things don’t go to plan he has to deal with the consequences of his actions.That’s an amazing journey to go on as an actor and what makes playing Amar highly attractive.

Martin: I loved the script, I thought it had flavours of other similar movies but at the same time had something unique & original about it.

HTF: The film follows the lives of your characters Amar and Tony along with Akbar played by Sam Vincenti. The onscreen relationship between the three of you has been described as brotherly. Would you say this has become the same in real life?

Rez: Most definitely. We’ve become really good friends. Sam & I had been in a movie together before but didn’t get to share much screen time on that. So I knew him and was looking forward to working with him again – he’s a great actor. Martin I didn’t know before but remember even at the auditions I could feel the chemistry was just right between us. I remember saying to our casting director that I hope I get to do this with Martin as I feel he & I could become really good friends – and we have. He’s like my long lost brother. The three of us get on really well and enjoy each others company.

Martin: It’s very much that! We had a great bond on set & that was evident in our casting process, as well as throughout rehearsals & into filming. Yes, I’d say it makes things easier. The fondness comes through but also the banter in the movie works & feels natural.

HTF: Did your offscreen relationship with your co-stars effect you performance in any way? Were you more at ease?

Rez: We are so blessed with the amazing people on this film. I’ve already spoken about Martin & Sam who are both awesome but the rest of the cast are equally fantastic. The beautiful and talented Amrita Archaria, Karen David, Goldy Notay and Laura Aikman were a pleasure to work and have fun with. No tantrums, diva fits or anything of that nature at any point on this project 😉 Everyone, cast & crew worked tirelessly and gave absolutely everything to make this film as pleasurable as possible an experience

HTF: The way in which the film explores the highs and lows of the character’s lives really shows the strength of their relationship. Were you able to draw on real life experiences to portray this?

Rez: I suppose I’m incredibly lucky to have amazing people around me. My friends and family are just so supportive and have always been there for me through the ups and downs life can throw at you. Being there for when your friends and family need you is what life is about. Sharing in the good and not so good happens to us all and this is why I feel Atul’s script will be so identifiable to our audiences because we’ve all been there.

HTF: Do you think anyone could relate to the bond depicted in the movie, regardless of their culture?

Rez: 100% yes. The fact that the three boys are from different cultures and in real life my friends and family are from back grounds and cultures doesn’t effect my relationships at all. The film covers very human issues which are common to us all. That’s what so great about the movie. Its a rare piece of work that will appeal to such a wide ranging audience. There’s something for everyone here regardless of age, gender or culture.

HTF: The film is set in the heart of London’s Asian community and clearly features Asian culture. How important would you say this is to the film?

Rez: Atul said to us that he’d seen in many movies a depiction of Asian lives that he felt he could never really relate to. He wanted to show how it was for him being a British Asian and being equally proud of both heritages. This was certainly how I felt and it was paramount for us to portray that in the movie. We’ve seen it a load of times at the cinema and on television – Asian characters struggling with their identities and culture – we felt a lot of that has already been said and done so lets see what happens when you happy about who you are and where you are – It felt refreshing to start there and celebrate what’s best of both worlds.

HTF: Were there any issues in the script relating to Asian culture you felt you had to tread softly around during the making of the movie?

Rez: You’ll be surprised in that during the course of the film we cover a lot of different issues but what’s so great about our movie is that its woven into the story so effectively that its not an “issue film”. We all face issues during the course of our lives but on the whole we carry on living our life too – that’s exactly what our film does – they’re part of our film but not the focus.

Martin: I personally, didn’t really. There wasn’t anything like that. Atul is a British Asian & has written the piece as a celebration of the London he grew up in. So I wouldn’t say it ever felt difficult for me. Plus Tony is the ‘loveable fool’ so any action he takes in this direction, is hard to be considered/taken seriously. That in itself is a statement from the writer. There are issues which occur in the movie but I may be giving too much away at this stage, if I discussed them. They are relatively sensitive in their content but they were handled with great care.

HTF:  Do you feel that this story could be transferred to a variety of different cultures?

Martin: Absolutely. Ultimately this story is about brotherhood & the adult search for love & what it means to grow up. Anyone can identify with that.

HTF: Given the racial diversity of the UK which the film appears to celebrate. Do you think this film would work as well in other countries?

Martin: Yes. This to me feels like a British film as opposed to a British Asian film. It feels like an accurate view of London life. I think this will work well in countries that have their own Asian communities, at the same time as not alienating any audience that can’t identify with that world. Ultimately it tells a good story, it’s a  funny piece and has a lot of heart. The setting, or backdrop is less important.

HTF: Your Director and writer on this Project was Atul Malhotra. How was your experience of working with him? How does he get the best from his actors?

Rez: The hugely talented and gifted Atul Malhotra was a joy and pleasure to work with. What’s great about him is that he’s so easy going and makes everyone feel relaxed and is hugely inspirational. He know what he wants but trusts you at the same time to deliver. He guides you rather then impose his ideas. It always felt a collaboration with him. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him and can’t wait to do so again.

Martin: I really liked him, we’ve become good friends. In terms of style, he’s very similar to other ‘greats’ I’ve worked with. Directors such as Clint Eastwood or Kathryn Bigelow, when I worked with them always seemed to have faith & confidence in what the actor was doing. They would let you have room to express yourself & create your character & only give you little nudges if they felt you ‘off track’ so to speak. Atul gets his best from us in the same way. He trusts his casting process & in rehearsals we discussed all scenes in depth, so there was a high level of understanding & scene goals. I have really enjoyed working with him.

HTF: Martin, In the movie you have been referred to as an ‘honorary Asian’ . Following your experience on this film do you feel like you have earned this title now?

Martin: I, in fact, am Asian. I know I don’t look mixed race but I’m actually half Burmese, so I could identify with a lot that was going on in the film. I’m also half Irish, as is Tony. For the Irish & Asian community, family is hugely important & that is true of my life & the characters in the film. However since playing Tony, I would definitely say my Bhangra dancing has improved!

HTF: You have also successfully made the transition into Hollywood with appearances in ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and ‘Flags Of Our Fathers” to name but a few. How does the experience of working on a British movie such as this differ from American productions? Are there pros and cons? Does it give you more or less satisfaction?

Martin: Well for me personally those roles were American characters, so that’s always fun for me as an actor. In terms of difference in productions, yes Hollywood projects instantly feel bigger, you can see whilst on set where they are spending money. I’ve honestly enjoyed most experiences at work. Hollywood films can be huge, so are usually scheduled with great care & so you don’t get to know other cast & crew in the same way. It has the potential to feel more detached but I’ve been very fortunate to work with wonderful crew, actors & directors with those films, so it always feels like you’re delivering high quality, which for me is ultimately the most important part of the job. So really the satisfaction is the same. I’m a huge supporter of British film however. So there may be a sense of pride which I feel making a film at home.

HTF:In the past have worked with some big names including Clint Eastwood and Gerard Butler. Who would you say, out of everyone you have worked with, has had the biggest influence on you (If at all).

Martin: Those two you’ve mentioned are lovely people. True gentlemen & I loved working with them. Clint was charming & warm as a director & Gerard & I have shared some great laughs & fun times. Kathryn Bigelow was also incredibly lovely to work for. There have been many actors I’ve worked with over the years, that I’m now proud to call friends, who have influenced me in some shape or form. Actors like Tanya Franks, Tony Curran & Ronan Vibert to name but a few.

I’d say the biggest influence was Paul Scofield. A truly wonderful actor that I worked with in my first ever movie. He was such a gentleman & so incredibly talented. Paul was responsible for so many marvellous performances in his lifetime. However the most important part about him for me, was his humanity. He was a caring & lovely man. And he never lost that any single day when we were on set together.

HTF: In recent years you career has sky rocketed and you have reached some pretty dizzy highs. But it would be a crime to ignore your appearance in one of my childhood favourites ‘Renford Rejects’ ! Do you have fond memories of your time on this show or is it a blemish on the CV?

Martin: Oh it’s not a blemish at all! It was a pleasure to be part of something so much fun. We had a great time making that show & it’s still strangely popular today. Being paid to basically spend the most fun years of your life acting & playing football, is a blessing. I also learned a lot on that show- it was my first experience working with American production teams & I was always blown away at the faith they had in us, the creative freedom they gave a bunch of kids basically to come up with ideas and content. I was 17 when I started it, as one of the youngest in the series & yet they always listened to our ideas & indulged our input. Is it the project I’m most proud of today? The answer would be an simple no, however it would only ever be considered a great job to me. Literally the most fun!

HTF: What advice would you give to aspiring British actors looking to make it in this industry, specifically Hollywood?

Martin: I’m not sure I’m qualified to advise on ‘making it’ as it were. All I know is that for me, acting is a protean art form in my eyes. I’ve always wanted to have diversity & variation to my career & that’s what I aspire to. As a result it’s those types of actor, such as Gary Oldman or Eddie Marsan for example, that inspire me. Based on my earlier work I could have easily been sold simply as another ‘London lad’. However I deliberately have fought this on occasion to make the work more varied & interesting for myself, it’s also not who I am. The important thing to do is know what you want, what type of actor you wish to be. It makes it easier to chase down the career you want, once that is in place.

HTF: What can we expect to see from you both in the near future?

Rez: I’m waiting to hear from a couple of movie projects. The movie world can be quite guarded as people don’t want their ideas “out there” too soon so I’m not allowed to say much – but a couple of them are really exciting and very different from AAT. As an actor we like to do different things and I’m incredibly lucky to be in a job which allows us to do that. As soon as things are firmed up and decisions made I’d be happy to come back to share that with you.

Martin: I have a small movie ‘Judas Ghost’ on the way out, in which I play the lead. A very different role to that of Tony in AAT. I play Jerry Mackay the overly confident leader of a team of ‘Ghostfinders’. Jerry is a smooth, middle class team-leader who swiftly gets out of his depth as the story unfolds. He was great fun to play. It has a very Dr Who vibe about the film. Dr Who with ghosts! Ha!

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