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Tom Brook
On set with Jimi Mistry in New York
 real 28k

Friday, 22 June, 2001, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
Touch of Mistry in New York
British actor Jimi Mistry
Jimi Mistry: Making a new film in New York
By BBC News Online's entertainment correspondent Tom Brook

Actor Jimi Mistry - best known for his work in EastEnders and the award-winning film East Is East - has been on location in New York taking on his biggest role to date.

Mistry, who earned accolades for his portrayal of the rebellious son Tariq Khan in East Is East, has been shooting sequences for his lead role in The Guru.

East is East
Mistry (l) in hit comedy East is East

The British actor is appearing opposite Heather Graham and Oscar winner Marisa Tomei.

He plays an Indian immigrant who comes to America and achieves fame and fortune by masquerading as an erotic sex guru.

On my recent visit to the set, Mistry explained that his character, Ramu, has dreams of becoming a big star.

"Inadvertently, through many comic scenes, he becomes this guru, and achieves the American Dream," Mistry adds.

'Fantastic'

The Guru is a lighthearted romantic comedy, but is more than just a playful vehicle.

Mistry's character passes as a guru because he spouts a philosophical babble that wins easy American converts.

Heather Graham co-stars
Graham plays the love interest

The actor believes the film almost exposes the American Dream for what it is, and shows that success comes at a price.

In Britain, Mistry enjoys heart-throb status among a growing number of fans. In New York he has at least won the affection of his co-stars, among them Heather Graham, well known for playing the role of Felicity Shagwell in Austin Powers II.

In The Guru, Graham plays a woman who becomes the focus of Ramu's romantic attentions.

"She's fantastic," says Mistry referring to Graham. "We've had a really good time, a really good laugh. She's a lovely girl."

Mistry's stay in New York has been quite an adventure, because in addition to his starring role he also became the proud father of a baby girl during his visit.

He says the whole experience has been surreal. He's also enjoyed working in the city after having "grown up on all these American movies shot in New York."

He says he has found American culture a little excessive. "The food's over the top, the cars are over the top, the buildings are over the top," he observes.

Ambition

Mistry, the son of an Indian born doctor, says he is not concerned that he may become typecast as an Asian actor.

"There always is a danger of being typecast in anything," he says. But, Mistry asserts: "I am who I am. I'm British and I like to think that I can do a varying amount of roles.

Marisa Tomei
Oscar-winning Tomei also co-strs

"It's all about choices and, of course, the way that this business works if they see you in something and they think you're really good.

"Your next job is going to be a variation of what you did before. I think it's up to the actor to choose carefully. It's just as important what you don't do as what you do."

Mistry has an unassuming demeanour that belies the fact that his career is on an upward trajectory.

His starring role in The Guru could be a big breakthrough. But unlike Ramu, Mistry is not seeking the American Dream.

He says: "Making Hollywood movies isn't one of my main aspirations." But he makes clear that if Hollywood producers are interested, they should come knocking.

Mistry explains that it is the content of film projects that guides him.

"I've always said that whatever work I do, it would have to be something which I want to do.

"The character would have to really interest me, and it would have to be a great project, whether it is here or in Britain."

Mistry and the rest of the cast and crew of The Guru recently completed shooting in New York.

Additional sequences are being filmed in India. The film is slated for release next year.

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See also:

09 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Director brings Romance to 'uptight' Brits
07 Feb 00 | Entertainment
East is East is best
19 May 99 | Entertainment
Austin Powers wins the day
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