South Asian FACE

Sam Mukherjee
 India's and Canada's next big story in Hollywood?


Subhankar Mukherjee is the first Indian recipient of Vancouver Film School’s prestigious VFS Full Time Scholarship award for Writing for Film and TV (2004) for an application judged “exceptional in terms of talent and creativity.”


In his western avatar, he’s Sam Mukherjee.


This 178 cm powerhouse brew of irreverence, fortitude and humility may well be the next big story both India and Canada will pitch in Hollywood.


Jeffery Archer thanks him for contributing names for his novel. Sidney Sheldon sends him season’s greetings.


On allegiance he says, "India is my mother and as a landed immigrant here, I’m wedded to Canada. I love them in different ways."


Renowned Australian screenwriter, playwright and novelist Ray Mooney says, “Sam is one of the best I’ve ever worked with in Screenwriting. Genuinely talented, totally dedicated and a delight, his professional approach, positive attitude and generosity in assisting others stood him head and shoulders above others. Every now and then a teacher is privileged to come across a Sam and when it happens you know you have been rewarded because everyone benefits.”


From Melbourne, Hon. Justice of the Peace for Victoria, Peter Rewal confirms Sam’s “high moral values.”



Sam spoke to South Asian Outlook (SAO) from Vancouver.


SAO: Since when did you want to pursue Screenwriting?


SAM: Since jungle barter existed. Once upon a time, a little boy went to the movies with his mom. And he fell in love!


SAO: How did you decide on joining Vancouver Film School?


SAM: The guru chooses his disciples. It’s never the other way around.


SAO: VFS’ Writing for Film and TV program is uniquely crafted, specialized and regarded as one of the best in North America. This must be quite an experience.


SAM: This is a Screenwriters’ place of worship. Our instructors are Gods. I hang on to every word they utter. The workshopping is intensive. This program is only for those who are ready for the extreme grind.


SAO: Can you see your films when you write?


SAM: I also see the posters and the trailer.


SAO: Would you like to work in India?


SAM: Can anything be more fulfilling than to be appreciated by your own?


SAO: Is show business hard to be in?


SAM: If you for once believe that you’re offering yourself to assassination by pursuing your dreams, you’re the first one squeezing the trigger. No faith led action can ever go wrong. God is on my side.


SAO: What is the difference between an ordinary story and a good story?


SAM: An ordinary story is like a rocking horse. You are in motion but going nowhere. A good story will have a logical point of view, not an emotional one. Here the viewer will take ownership of the story with your guidance. It’s their job to get emotional, not yours.


SAO: How does a creative writer survive?


SAM: Any creative artist is like a cigarette burning slowly between two fingers: one, of their own expectations, and second, the world’s. Those in a state of constant departure, never arriving, survive. As creative writers, we must never write ourselves off.


SAO: How important is community support?


SAM: Self-interest must turn into group interest. Whenever an Aishwarya Rai, a Sushmita Sen, a Shekhar Kapur or an Aamir Khan puts us on the world map, their triumph is my very own to cherish. 


We must stand by our own and assist them to live up to global expectations.


SAO: From where do you draw inspiration?


SAM: People! My mom tops the list, followed by dad, other loved family members, supportive extended families, revered teachers, loyal friends and sincere critics. Also deeply inspirational for me have been actor Mithun Chakraborty, yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, scientist Dr. Birendra Raj Dutt and consulting legend Rajat Gupta.


SAO: Who are your favourite Indian actors and why?


SAM: Look into Amitabh Bachchan’s eyes. Still as intense as they were thirty years ago. Read Shah Rukh’s worry that he won’t measure up to his own critical standards. Observe Aamir’s timing. They’re so good that I’m terrified that they will make a mistake in every single scene. Sunjay Dutt, Sunny Deol, Salman Khan, Ajay Devgun, Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar and Anil Kapoor are huge favourites. I never miss any of their films.


SAO: What scripts are you presently working on?


SAM: An episode for The Simpsons.


Two features.


The turbulent love story of an American soldier and an Iraqi woman during Operation Iraqi Freedom.


A romantic comedy. A successful advertising executive starts dating his secretary in a bid to rekindle his failing marriage.


SAO: What about your plans for the Indian screen?


SAM: By Fall 2004, two thrillers will be ready.


The first one is about a crime reporter who is falsely accused of manslaughter and jailed because he uncovers unpleasant truths about powerful political baddies. But truth surfaces soon and he is released. However, with a jailbird’s reputation, he is unemployed. Driven by despair, he falls prey to an industrialist’s wife’s offer to kidnap their stepdaughter for ransom. But the victim is killed under mysterious circumstances and the police run with their noses to the ground to find the kidnapper. In the meantime, he lands a press liaison’s job with the police department and keeps plugging their leads while frantically attempting to find the killer to clear his name.

The next one is about a celebrity actor who loses a leg in a freak accident and is out of work. With his creditors hounding him, a criminal acquaintance asks him to swing a robbery that only he can, with his connections. Left with little choice, he plans and executes the robbery with a team of crooks and finds love on the way.


Both are high velocity rollercoaster rides.


SAO: Are you also considering writing for crossover films?


SAM: Most certainly. The number of Indian immigrants is growing by the day. And there is an ever-increasing demand for good films with universal themes. Asia, the market of the future, is still quite untapped.


SAO: Penguin found your proposal on Villains in Indian Cinema interesting.


SAM: It was more an inquiry than a formal proposal. I went into print journalism for a while at that time and the project didn’t happen. Books and documentaries on Villains and Comedians in Indian cinema are still on my mind. I had proposed a biography plan to screen legend Dharmendraji in 1997 but he was busy then and it didn’t work out. I’m planning writing a three part documentary and books on the Deols and the Roshans.


Sam Mukherjee is a promise waiting to be fulfilled.


When asked, he describes himself as “an unripe fruit whose time is fast approaching.” And when it finally does, he says, “I won’t have any objection to myself.”


[Pictures by Lakshminarayan Thandu Kulasekaran]




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