Photo courtesy of Amar Sidhu
The beauty of Hollywood is that there’s so set path to becoming a star. Harrison Ford was George Lucas’ carpenter before he got cast in his career re-booting role in American Graffiti and Halle Berry worked the pageant circuit before landing her first TV series. So it’s not totally unprecedented for Amar Sidhu to have taken his unusual path.
The Pacific Northwest native started out as a doctor. Earning his medical degree at Tulane University before ultimately becoming a dermatologic surgeon in Los Angeles. Yet something inside him was drawn to acting.
But as he recalled in a recent exclusive interview, “I was always a very practical thinker growing up and I just thought, practically, here in Seattle, Washington, if I try and go in this direction, what are the odds of me succeeding? I was always based in practicality so I was like, ‘It’s just not going to happen.’ So I put it on the backburner and just shifted my attention after high school for a complete decade into working my ass off studying.”
Still Amar couldn’t keep his more creative ambitions at bay forever. As he recounted, “As soon as I graduated from residency, my mind opened up again where I developed my practice. And at that moment I had a chance to breathe and look around because grad school and residency is really vigorous, you really don’t have time to think. You’re just basically thinking about the healing arts, which is fine, that’s what it’s designed for. I’m very grateful for that. However, once I was done I started pondering like, ‘Wow, it would be really great to act.’”
Knowing that he didn’t have the depth to his resume that his competitors did, he decided to go a different route to realize his dreams. Sidhu decided to produce his own films and give himself the leads.
His first project was the foreign film Aakhari Decision. Amar explained why he chose to make an action drama, saying, “When I first decided on the concept, I was thinking this it the genre I want to go with because I felt like it’s possible on a low budget and it’s possible to get people interested and do it.”
So he set out on a path to make his first film. “I hired a screenwriter online and put a concept down there and people applied. I interviewed several people and then helped through the scripting process, although I didn’t write it. I'm not taking any credit for writing the film… And we shot the film here in Los Angeles and in India.”
Although it didn’t make a big splash in the States, Aakhari Decision has become a cult classic in India. Fueled by his passion for acting, Amar quickly moved on to his second project.
The idea for The Black Russian came to Amar while he was vacationing in the north of India. “I started realizing, wow, there’s a massive drug problem here. Nobody really knows about it and it’s directly linked to the narcoterrorist activities that are happening in that region of the world.”
He felt that the dramatic backdrop would spotlight both his talents and the real life problems at hand. Amar remarked, “I wanted to do something, which I could actually act in. So I created a story and screenplay around those concepts. That’s where I can up with this kidnapping story that takes place in the backdrop of narcoterrorism in that part of the world. And I thought at that point that it would be very compelling because it’s very relevant issues.”
Amar also took on the role of co-director alongside Carlos Valle on the project. In addition to a local shoot in Los Angeles, the crew worked in India and Pakistan during a very volatile period in history. As Amar noted, “Right before we were shooting the film, that’s when we went in and actually killed Osama Bin Laden. And all these very relevant events were happening while we were in pre-production. And we just used that impetus and kept moving forward.”
Luckily they wrapped without incident and Amar is currently in the final stages of post-production on the film. And not one to rest on his laurels, he’s already hard at work on his follow-up, a sci-fi action film called Winter’s Dream.
And he’s open to working for other auteurs as well. As he conceded, “I hope that through the films that I’ve produced and I’ve acted in that maybe another producer or director will take note and that may make my auditioning process a little bit easier.”
For more about Amar Sidhu and his projects visit The Black Russian website.