Filmmaker Spotlight: Faroukh Virani

The X1 International destination is featuring “Sameer and the Giant Samosa,” written and directed by Faroukh Virani, in the Celebrating Diwali with South Asian Cinema collection. Luckily for us, we had the chance to ask Faroukh about his inspirations and how his South Asian-American heritage impacts his films.

Director Faroukh Virani. Image Credit: Arjun Kamath

Tell us about your film featured on X1 this month!

Faroukh Virani:Sameer and the Giant Samosa” is a dark comedy loosely inspired by Kafka’s “Metamorphosis;” it explores arranged marriages and cultural disconnects through a man who literally becomes his obsession, a giant samosa, to his wife’s dismay.

Image Credit: Natalie Mirsky
Image Credit: Natalie Mirsky

How did you get into filmmaking?

FV: My friends and I made very bad videos with my parents’ Hi8 camcorder in high school. We found a way to turn every class project into a video production; the liberties we took with our interpretation of “A Tale of Two Cities” disgraces great literature, but I will always treasure those times of goofing around with buddies on camera. Also, my parents shared a lot of great films with us growing up—from Bollywood hits to classic Hollywood. My dad loved the Marx Brothers and made it a point to have me watch all their films with him.

What are some films and/or filmmakers that have inspired you?

FV: A few favorite films: “The Big Lebowski,” “Being There,” “Spirited Away,” “Paper Moon,” “Where Is the Friend’s Home,” “Be Kind Rewind,” “Lawrence of Arabia.” Some filmmakers: Elia Kazan, The Coen brothers, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Majid Majidi, Kaneto Shindo, Satyajit Ray—I love the Apu Trilogy, and I find new things to appreciate every time I watch it.

Do you have a favorite Asian-American film?

FV: “Better Luck Tomorrow” and “The Namesake.”

How or does your Asian heritage influence your work?

FV: Before 2001, coasting on Model Minority status, I was a “normal” brown kid from Texas. I didn’t feel who I was could be an issue—until September 11, 2001. Living in Manhattan at the time, the question “Where are you from?” became a lot more loaded. I wanted to change the assumptions attached to my appearance and began to see the simple power in telling stories about people who look like me. If I have access to a camera, I have a responsibility to reclaim our narrative and portray our perspectives—with our full range of hopes, dreams, and ambitions.

What is your outlook on the state of Asian-American cinema?

FV: I’m inspired by where we’re at, in both film and television, as our stories enter the mainstream. To have “The Big Sick” in theaters; shows like “Master of None,” “Fresh Off the Boat” available; and Ali Wong and Hasan Minhaj featured in Netflix specials is a pretty good place to be. The way we represent ourselves in media and the power to tell our own stories can continue to improve. It demands APA artists produce even more work that is an authentic and specific reflection of who we are —and push it to be seen and distributed.

Image Credit: Natalie Mirsky

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Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Faroukh Virani! Watch “Sameer and the Giant Samosa” in the Celebrating Diwali with South Asian Cinema collection on your X1 International destination or with XFINITY Stream this October.

For more Filmmaker Spotlights or Asian-American news and entertainment visit XFINITY Asia.