Miscellaneous

Having starred in both British dramas and Hollywood blockbusters, Martin Delaney has had a career as diverse as his new film! As well as popular shows such as Family Affairs and The Bill, Delaney has mingled with Hollywood heavyweights such as Clint Eastwood in the acclaimed hit Flags of our Fathers and Kathryn Bigelow in Zero Dark Thirty. The young actor now plays one third of the trio in his new comedy Amar, Akbar and Tony. His character, Tony, is on the hunt for his new love in the Asian community, the question is will he succeed? Delaney talks to us about diversity in film, working with an amazing cast and how to find the one!

 

Tell me a bit about your character Tony.

 

Tony is a Londoner with Irish heritage on his dad’s side, he’s lived in Southall all his life and been friends with Amar and Akbar since he was a kid. Tony’s a softie with a heart of gold, he tries but he’s not the brightest or most charming of the three. Living in a largely British-Asian community he’s become obsessed with Asian women. The question is will he find the Asian girl of his dreams? Or more to the point is the girl of his dreams looking for her “Caucasian prince”?

 

What drew you to this project?

 

The thing that drew me to the piece was the script and role, it read like a really fun script with room for light as well as moments of heart and weight. Of course the role was great fun. Tony being described as ‘the honorary Asian’ reminded me of moments in my life that were important. I worked in New Zealand some years ago and I was taken under the wing of the Maori boys, there were elements of the character that reminded me of this time. The fact that Tony would be my first comedic lead in film was of course exciting, not to mention that I am British Asian myself. I don’t look it as I’m Caucasian but my mum is Burmese and my dad is Irish. I identified with the strong family and friendship themes running through the piece.

 

Do you feel this film is an accurate representation of London today?

 

The piece represented London and in particular Southall very well. London is a melting pot of different cultures and communities and it’s used as a backdrop in a very positive light in Amar, Akbar and Tony. When I grew up in South East London/Kent border, culture didn’t keep me away from my friends of different race or faith and the movie echoes that.

 

You’ve starred in Hollywood blockbusters such as Zero Dark Thirty and Flags of our Fathers. Do you enjoy working on these big movies as well as local films such as Amar, Akbar and Tony?

 

I have and yes, they are incredibly enjoyable. I managed to do a few Hollywood movies now and I’m particularly proud of being part of the two you mentioned. Not only because Clint Eastwood and Kathryn Bigelow are wonderful directors and not to mention charming human beings, but because both those movies were nominated for Oscars with Zero Dark Thirty winning one. It’s lovely to be involved in all that! Zero Dark Thirty had some great cameos which lead to it also winning ‘Best Ensemble Cast’ at The Critics Choice Awards. Winning over fantastic movies like Les Miserables feels incredible and I’m very grateful. In those big Hollywood pictures I also tend to play American roles which I love to do where possible.

 

Did you, Sam and Rez become close friends during filming?

 

Sam, Rez and I got on so well during filming, I love those boys! I read somewhere that directing is 60% casting, well Shakyra Dowling along with the director Atul Malhotra did a top job with this piece because we all had such a blast and bonded in a truly natural and believable way. The girls are all fantastic too; it’s been a real pleasure and honour to work with them. I had worked with Laura Aikman and Amrita Acharia before in television and it was a joy to spend time with them again.

 

As well as comedy, are there serious moments the audiences can relate to?

 

There are serious moments of course, every story needs drama and conflict and Amar Akbar and Tony doesn’t avoid this. There’s a moment in the early part of the movie that puts strain on their relationship as friends. Not to mention the dramas involved with trying to find the girl of your dreams, I think everyone can identify with that. Love is never easy, but it’s always worth it!

 

What was it like working with such an ensemble and multicultural cast?

 

As I mentioned earlier, the cast were just incredible, every single member. We all had such fun together and were a really great team. It was a delight to work opposite Meera Syal and Nina Wadia too. Not only are they super talented ladies but really beautiful and generous people. You mentioned it being a multicultural cast, but it didn’t stop there. Amar, Akbar and Tony had the biggest multicultural crew I’d ever worked with and that was inspiring. In a time where diversity in British film is a huge negative talking point, Amar Akbar and Tony really did prove that there are no reasons why film can’t be more diverse.

Neev Spencer

With a daily audience of 1.5 million listeners, Neev Spencer has become one of the most popular radio hosts in the UK. With a daily show on Kiss FM, regular DJ gigs and voiceover work Neev certainly has a busy lifestyle. However she still spares time for the many charities she supports, some of which she is a passionate ambassador. Contrary to popular belief she claims her life is anything but glamorous, it is a lot of hard work, long hours and perseverance for the famed DJ. Neev talks music, her amazing encounter with Rihanna and why Pilates is the go to exercise for any fitness freak!

6:30am-7:30am: I wake up the “lovely” hour of 6:30am, I used to wake up at 9:30am for eight years so it is quite a leap let me tell you! I get myself ready and pick out something good to wear because you never know what celebrities are coming into the station that day. I also tend to record a lot of stuff for Instagram and Twitter, it is not all about listening to the radio and hearing a voice these days, it is much more visual. I am a health and fitness freak so I always have a healthy breakfast before I leave.

7:30am-8:15am: Head to work via the tube station.

8:15am-9:00am: I arrive at the KISS station and have a meeting with our controller, then I prepare for the show. I will look through the papers, music and competitions which I note down so I know exactly what is going on in the programme.

9:00am-11:00am: The show starts and we have a two hour section which is mainly music driven with celebrity stories, topical conversations or light hearted discussions. At the moment for the first half of the year Starbucks have started to sponsor my show so we have the chance to make your mornings great, we give away money or iTunes vouchers for free to brighten someone’s spirits.

11:00am-12:00pm: We then come to the KISSTORY hour which is the biggest part of the show and has a huge brand, it is where everyone can feel nostalgic and hear their classic tracks that take them back to their favourite holiday, memory or moment.

“I do my best to bring real love, passion and enthusiasm to the music with the way I deliver it. It is a huge musical throwback.”

12:00pm-1:00pm: Then I finish off my KISSTORY show then spend the next half an hour doing prep for the next day, as the official voice of KISS I record voiceovers, jingles for the station, promotional offers and sound bites.

1:00pm-4:00pm: I move to the KISSTORY station, KISSTORY now has a national radio station on digital and Freeview channel 714 and can be listened to online and on the Kiss Kube app that people can use on their Smartphone. It can also be accessed on the KISSFM website and has over 1 million listeners, I have a daily show there where it is the same old thing, old school tunes.

4:00pm-5:00pm: I head out and I will try to get to a Piltaes class which is my preferred choice of fitness and training, it gives great overall tone and strength to my body. I have tried different types of exercises that have never worked for me but have always liked exercises that incorporate a type of Yoga and breathing. With the kind of fast paced life we have now it is important to stop and breathe for a second and Pilates really does that.

5:00pm-6:00pm: I then manage my social media, I am heavily into my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter where I share things and spark conversations with people. I might be working on a mix or on SoundCloud which takes up a lot of time.

7:00pm-9:00pm: I will be coming home and thinking of something healthy to prepare for dinner, the thing about being a fitness and food fanatic is that it takes ages to prepare what you will eat so I take a long trip down my local supermarket. I eat very low carbohydrate and high protein diets with low sugar. Because I like to share my lifestyle I will take pictures of my food and share the recipe which takes up a lot of my time. People who have tried my diets and exercises have responded to me saying it works out for them, I like to share my experiences with people and be real about what I do. I will try stuff out and genuinely tell people what it is like.

9:00pm-10:00pm: Normally on Monday or Tuesday or Friday and Saturday I will be 100% working as a DJ so I will do my makeup, hair and outfit and be out the door driving anywhere where KISS transmits. It could be Cardiff, Norwich or London for example.

10:00pm-12:00pm: Travel to my gig.

12:00pm-4:00am: I will be working at my gig and then return home to get to bed. The only constant thing in my life is my radio show, everything else changes around it and every week is different. I don’t have gigs every day of every week so that means that I do get my lie in. We can all push ourselves to do a lot in 24 hours.

You have been heavily involved in charity, is there one particular movement or charity that is close to your heart?

Two things spring to mind: first is the British Asian Trust started by Prince Charles which I was made an ambassador for. This was a huge honour for me as the money they raise is for people in India with life threatening diseases. Last year they raised approximately £1 million where they enabled people to buy vaccinations.

“I feel proud to be part of this charity as I can give back to India where the poverty is extreme, you don’t know where you can begin to help people.”

The second is Mencap, which I am also an ambassador for, who help raise money for people with mental and learning disabilities. As my younger brother has learning difficulties and special needs I feel emotionally close to this charity and proud that I can attach my name to them. They are fantastic and have helped my brother enormously over the years.

Is there any particular celebrity interview that stood out for you?

It has to be Rihanna, I don’t know why but I thought she would be quite cold and aloof, however she blew me away as she was so loving and wonderful. Rihanna is a beautiful person inside and out, she just wanted to talk to me and hang out and I even had to make her answer my questions because she just wanted to play around, she is a very playful person! I even had Mendhi on my hands as I had just come back from India and she was crazy about it, she kept saying “This is amazing, I want this!” as she was holding my hand. I then said I would take her to have it done and she ended up having her tattoo of the mendhi on her hands which I like to think I influenced as it is exactly the same as mine! She was wonderful.

What can we do to encourage more Asian people to get involved in the media industry?

I started in radio as a hobby when I was 18 while I was studying, at that time there were no Asians in the media except for a few newsreaders. It was socially acceptable to be a newsreader and being a DJ was not at all, so I know a lot of barriers have been broken down. People come to me and say “I can’t believe you are Asian and on KISS FM and a female!” Now more Asian people are integrating into mass media and these professions. I think it is about what our parent’s generations feel, when I started out it was a real battle as my father was very against my career but my mother was for it, but I was very true to myself where I was able to forge a successful career out of it. What I love is that out of our 1.7 million listeners so many of them don’t know I am Asian which I am proud of because I am British Asian and Sikh and very proud of my heritage and homeland. At the same time I don’t feel I have to be stereotyped in any way, I am as much British as I am Asian and that defines me. I think the battle however is not over as I want to present X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and Big Brother, I want to do massive commercial TV entertainment and then we will know that the barrier has been broken as we have not seen that yet. What I would suggest to a lot of people is that if you have a talent you love, your first battle is if you can get your parents support.

“You have to be dedicated and not chase it for the fame, because media is not about the fame, it is about hard work, commitment, dedication and long hours.”

It is not as glamorous as people may think so if you can show them that you are willing to put the time and work in to get somewhere then you should be successful in anything you do. Asians are hard workers, it is in our blood!

Drink that gets you through the day: Green Tea

Person that gets you through the day: Mum

Gadget that gets you through the day: iphone emergency charger

Song that gets you through the day: Blame: Calvin Harris, Fatman Scoop: Be Faithful and anything from DJ Fresh

Food that gets you through the day: Almonds

Favourite time of the day: Kisstory hour at 11:00!

Catch Neev at 9-12 Monday to Friday on Kissfmuk and 1:00-5:00 Monday to Friday on the Kisstory channel on Freeview 714.

Get the Kiss Kube app for more KISS!

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Karanvir Bhupal

The highly anticipated new series PREMature comes to screens and lifts the curtains on life’s struggles. Teenager Prem Mehta must overcome the death of his grandmother and sudden divorce of his parents to learn to grow up fast, however the strained relationship with his parents and constant obstacles make this a tough journey to make. Whether it is family, bullying, marriage or the trials of youth, director Rohith Katbamna brings a fresh and surreal window into the troubled lives of our characters. We sat down with debut actor Karanvir Bhupal who plays troubled teenager Prem. Karanvir talks about his new role, fighting your demons and what makes PREMature stand out from the crowd.

Tell me about your character and his role in the plot.

Prem is the lone wolf of the series, it’s a time where he’s carving out the rest of his life but with certain restraints. The death of his grandmother and separation of his parents add to his already dull daily routine. The role for Prem is simple, he is there to show that no matter what is thrown at you, you continue and try and bring the best out of that situation even if it means helping others first and thinking about yourself later. He’s just a boy realising its time to become a man and stand up.

In your own words, what is the overall theme of the series?

Honestly, that there is a light in that very dark tunnel.

Were there any aspects of the show that you could personally relate to?

Many, at times it was like I was portraying myself. Prem’s character has allowed me to contribute my own life lessons into this project, I guess it’s that realistic. Having had periods of my life which were quite dark I can sympathise with Prem and have a great respect for him. Depression, anxiety and death have a massive effect on one but it’s how you channel these things, what you do with them that separates you from the people that give up.

There was a lot of improvisation to make the dialogue sound real, was this easy to do as an actor?

To be honest it wasn’t hard at all, acting for me is a lot more than just becoming someone and learning their lines. It’s living and breathing them, actually taking the time out to think about why something should be said in a different way or why it should be changed, it’s all about being comfortable. I give props to Rohith for this as the script was amazing and he gave us ownership of the characters which allowed us to make certain dialogue choices.

Could you tell me a bit more about your acting background before PREMature?

PREMature is my debut project, however I had the chance some years ago to work with Rohith on a short, this was my first time meeting and working with him, I knew from that day I wanted to work with him again. A few years later I was given the opportunity to audition for Prem and here I am.

What drew you to this project?

The project will speak for itself when released, it’s so different, it’s real. The amount of heart that has gone into making PREMature is what blew me away. We’re all family, everyone who is part of this means a lot to me and I guess for something that was shot in a very tight eight weeks you would think we hardly got to talk to each other and build bonds, but we did. Everyone on the project wanted to be there, from love to tension everything was felt in the air.

What do you want the audience to take away from this series?

I understand that PREMature will not be everyone’s cup of tea however, it can change lives, I know for me and some of the cast this has been the case. If just one person attaches himself or herself to a character or a storyline, I honestly think we have all succeeded.

Finally do you have any future roles you can tell us about?

I wish I could, I’m going to let this sink in first because its huge for me, everything is all new to me and I’m loving it. I have nothing on the table right now but I would love to work with Rohith and Terry again given the chance, both great people who I consider to be family. But right now I’m enjoying the experience.

Actress Meera Ganatra

The highly anticipated new series PREMature comes to screens and lifts the curtains on life’s struggles. Teenager Prem Mehta must overcome the death of his grandmother and sudden divorce of his parents to learn to grow up fast, however the strained relationship with his parents and constant obstacles make this a tough journey to make. Whether it is family, bullying, marriage or the trials of youth, director Rohith Katbamna brings a fresh and surreal window into the troubled lives of our characters. We sat down with Meera Ganatra who plays Prem’s emotionally damaged mother Neelam. Meera gives us the low down on her role in the series and her experience shooting this unique show.

What attracted you to this project?

The director Rohith got in touch with me through Casting Call Pro which is an actor’s website where actors can apply for jobs they feel suitable for. I looked at the script for the pilot and I saw his previous work where he did a great documentary for South Africa called Hooking in Joburg, which was quite controversial but very real. Based on that I thought this guy has got something and I was able to meet him and get the job. PREMature is very naturalistic, emotional and has dark humour; it is very different to other TV shows that are out.

Tell me about your character and her role in this plot.

I play Neelam who is the mother of the protagonist and the series begins quite dramatically with her mother passing away and she finds out her husband has cheated on her again. Their marriage breaks down after 21 years so she has to find her feet again and cope with two major traumatic experiences. The relationship with her children and whole family is also affected by this, she has no control over the whole situation and she is very vulnerable and in a broken state. Throughout the series you will see how she copes with it, what she does and how she emerges at the end. There are things she does that may surprise you!

What was your experience like bringing Neelam’s issues to life?

As a performer you always want a character that is challenging and you can get your feelings into, I have been working on this project for the past couple of years since I first joined the series and filmed the pilot. So when we filmed the sixth episode I had done all my research on the character and been there and felt it. It is hard to do but when you really believe in the character you can bring reality to it. I have not experienced any of the things she went through but I am married with kids so you empathise with people who go through those experiences.

As a mother yourself could you relate in any way to Neelam’s storyline?

When you have a child in your life it is the most amazing experience any woman can go through. The relationship you have with your children is so precious and pure, but in this story the relationship with my older children is not broken but difficult and as a mother it is a very sad and frightening position where this child is growing up and moving away from you. You can feel very guilty and a breakdown of a marriage would also be difficult.

Do you feel the series breaks away from Asian stereotypes?

The series has got nothing to do with being Indian or Asian, it is about family and situations that could happen in any household that no one would really know about it. I play an Indian but it is not relevant at all because the director envisaged the series not to have ethnicity in the forefront. I could be a white woman and she would deal with it in the same way. It is nice to have a character who is not totally reliant on being Indian but you can still bring your culture and essence in because that is who we are. You are not pretending to be something.

Is it nerve racking making your TV debut?

Not really because I have done a lot of short films and corporate films before, this is just my first big six part series, but it was good as we were part of the journey and had time to get into the characters over time unlike short films I had done which were shot over a couple of days and then you’re done. This was easier as a result.

What do you want audiences to take away from this series?

I want them to enjoy the series, it is very real, dark, emotional and funny but at the same time you want the audience to relate to something in it. As it is based around a school there are young characters so younger audiences can relate to things going on in the school such as bullying or harassment. A female audience can also relate to the journey a woman has to go through and the things you are forced to do when you have a family and career, you can find your feet and be strong.

Catch PREMature on channels

Sky: 539
Freeview: 109
Virgin Media: 233
Freesat: 651

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