Sharman Joshi on his Hollywood debut with ”˜The Least of These’ 

By Neeru Saluja

Stephen Baldwin (as Graham Staines), Sharman Joshi (as a fictional journalist)

Actor Sharman Joshi is all set to make his Hollywood debut with his upcoming film ”˜The Least of These’ slated to release on 1 February.

Directed by Aneesh Daniel, the film revolves around the poignant tale of Graham Staines, an Australian missionary who along with his two sons were torched to death by Hindu fundamentalists in 1999 while serving the leper population in India.

The film marks the 20th anniversary of the true life story and stars Stephen Baldwin, Shari Rigby and Sharman Joshi in lead roles.

We got to talk to Sharman after the red carpet premiere in New York in an interesting conversation about the film. Excerpts from the interview:

Congratulations on the red carpet for your film ”˜The Least of These’ in New York recently. How were you approached for your role of an investigative journalist?

I was approached by the director of the film Aneesh Daniel and I met him and the writer in Hyderabad and we discussed the project. I was extremely excited about being part of this film as the story of Graham Staines is seen through the eyes of a journalist. The story was compelling, a human drama that really moved me and I felt honoured to be part of the film.

Tell us a bit about your role as it based on a fictional character?

The role I play is of Manav, a rookie journalist who in order to support his family is willing to do any permanent job. At this particular publication in the state of Orissa, he actually manages to create a job for himself by saying that there are these missionaries who are into conversion and nobody has reported about them. The editor finds the stake very interesting and gives him a full time job.

The movie was announced in 2015 and is releasing in 2019. What’s the reason behind the delay?

It doesn’t matter which year the film is releasing as the director and producer have given their 100 per cent to this film and made sure that no compromises are made on the final product. For this, they have gone to extreme lengths and this has taken time. I’m sure the end result will speak for itself.

It seems as if it’s the age of making movies on real life stories. What are your thoughts on this?

Real life stories are currently appealing to the audience and also to the makers. I have always believed in the inward outward process where the writers, director and actors have to be moved by a particular genre and hopefully the audiences react favourably. And then it becomes a trend for a while. I have no complaints with real life stories. They make great stories as reality is bigger than fiction.

As Graham Staines was an Australian missionary, how would the Australian audience perceive the film?

There is definitely a connect with the Australian audience and they will feel a deeper connection due to Graham Staines. But saying that, it’s a human drama which will appeal to an international audience. The film spreads the message of tolerance, love and peace which is the need of the hour for people across the world.

If this film was made in Bollywood, would have been there any difference?

Bollywood is a word coined by media, I always refer it as the Indian film industry. The film is made by an Indian director living in Hyderabad, so besides the American producer and Australian writer and the actors it is quite a coming together from various parts of the world. I see this as the trend coming up in the next few years where experts from various parts of the world will come together to make a film and I’m glad that I’m already part of this kind of endeavour.

The Least of These is slated to release in Australia in mid 2019. We also talked to the Australian writer Andrew Matthews who after extensive research about the history of India, Hindu Christian relations and talking to Graham’s family has written this film.  
“I think  the Australian audience will receive this film very well. Graham and Gladys Staines were/are true Australian heroes, quietly going about serving others without expectation of glory or financial reward. They were and are actual examples of the Aussie values of mate ship and giving everyone a fair go – Australians can be rightly proud of the Staines’ contribution to our neighbours in India, and this film should make all Australians proud,” says Andrew.  

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