Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: Samrat Chakrabarti is featured in Claire McCarthy’s The Waiting City, which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival

Samrat Chakrabarti in "The Waiting City" (2009)

Samrat Chakrabarti in “The Waiting City” (2009)

In The Waiting City, the latest offering by Australian director Claire McCarthy, Samrat Chakrabarti portrays Krishna, a hotel worker that an outwardly happy Australian couple, played by Radha Mitchell (Finding Neverland, Pitch Black) and Joel Edgerton (The Square, Star Wars: Episode II & III), befriend when they travel to Kolkata, India, to collect their adopted baby. Upon their arrival, they discover their arrangements have yet to be finalized, and must wait in this chaotic and foreign place. The vulnerability of their marriage begins to reveal itself as the intoxicating powers of the Indian city pull them in separate and unexpected directions.

Best know for his roles in Kissing Cousins, Shut Up and Sing and She Hate Me, I first encountered Chakrabarti on the silver screen at the Asian American International Film Festival in New York this summer, where he was featured in Sarba Das’ Karma Calling .

Samrat Chakrabarti and Rebecca Hazelwood in a scene from Amyn Kaderali’s Kissing Cousins, now available on DVD.

Samrat Chakrabarti and Rebecca Hazelwood in a scene from Amyn Kaderali’s Kissing Cousins, now available on DVD.

In Karma Calling, he is utterly charming as Rohit Rao, a call center employee in India (he calls himself Rob Roy when calling Americans) who dreams of visiting New York. When he develops a “You’ve Got Mail” friendship with Sonal Raj (played by Barnali Das), the daughter of Indian immigrants living a lonely life in New Jersey, the outcome is hopelessly romantic.

Barnali Das and Samrat Chakrabarti in Karma Calling

Barnali Das and Samrat Chakrabarti in Karma Calling

The New York based actor has been all over the map lately for his work in film and television, with roles in the upcoming Italian production Behind the Bodice alongside Irrfan Khan, the Bengali language film Dwando, the Indian independent film Bombay Summer, the American independent film Loins of Punjab Presents, and even a cameo in a new production from Bollywood’s Yash Raj films starring John Abraham. Television audiences may be familiar with his work on Law & Order (NBC), The Sopranos (HBO), Love Monkey (CBS) Hope and Faith (ABC), and Damages (FX).

Samrat Chakrabarti © Lia Chang

Samrat Chakrabarti © Lia Chang

I caught up with him at a performance of ONE, the Rock Musical, starring Manu Narayan, Paolo Montalban, Pearl Sun and Michael Winther at 59e59 Theatres last night, and he mentioned that he was very proud of his work in The Waiting City, which will have its world premiere screening in the Special Presentations lineup of the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival on September 17, 2009.

During filming, director McCarthy described The Waiting City as, “An intimate, complex love story, set against the exhilarating, epic backdrop of Calcutta – a place that I’ve filmed in before and have a deep connection with. It’s impossible not to be affected by this place and certainly, the characters in The Waiting City are totally transformed by the people here and their powerful homeland.”

McCarthy’s previous credits include the documentary, Sisters (which screened on ABC Television this year and follows the experiences of her strong-willed real life sister, Helena, who naively nose-dives into volunteer work in Calcutta) and the feature film, Cross Life which screened at the 2007 Sydney Film Festival and Pusan International Film Festival in Korea.

Screening Schedule
Thursday September 17 6:00PM VISA SCREENING ROOM (ELGIN)
Friday September 18 1:45PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 1
Saturday September 19 6:15PM VARSITY 8

Ticket packages for the Festival are now available for purchase by cash, debit or Visa. Purchase online at tiff.net/thefestival, by phone at 416-968-FILM or 1-877-968-FILM (10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, closed weekends and holidays) or in person at the Festival Box Office at Nathan Phillips Square (10 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week), located at 100 Queen Street West, in the white tent, west of the square.

The Special Presentations programme is made possible through the generous sponsorship of American Movie Classics Company LLC.

About TIFF: TIFF is a charitable, not-for-profit, cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world. Its vision is to lead the world in creative and cultural discovery through the moving image. TIFF generates an annual economic impact of $135 million CAD and currently employs more than 100 full-time staff, 500 part-time and seasonal staff, and counts upon the largesse of over 2,000 volunteers year-round.
The Waiting City at TIFF
Samrat Chakrabarti

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Lia Chang is an actor, performance and fine art botanical photographer and an award-winning multimedia journalist. Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, VIBE, TV Guide, Daily Variety, Interior Design, American Theatre, Life & Style, OUT, New York Magazine, InStyle, Timeout.com, Villagevoice.com, Playbill.com, Theatermania.com, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post. A former syndicated arts and entertainment columnist for KYODO News, Lia is the New York Bureau Chief for AsianConnections.com. She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog. As a photographer and videographer, Lia is frequently tapped to collaborate with artists, organizations and companies in establishing their documentary photo archive. She has been documenting her colleagues and contemporaries in the arts, fashion and journalism since making her stage debut as Liat in the National Tour of South Pacific, with Robert Goulet and Barbara Eden.

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