Azgi has bought into the American Dream... or, more specifically to Sakina's Indian Restaurant in Manhattan where he introduces us to his new boss and family: restaurant owner Hakim, who is infuriated by his daughter's wildcat ways; his wife, Farrida, the one-time dancer who now makes chapati all day; Sakina, the betrothed daughter with the all-American boyfriend; and Gameboy-toting son Samir.
Mandvi plays all the parts in the award-winning one-man show, which he also wrote. Sakina's Restaurant is directed and designed by Kim Hughes and presented at The Bush in association with Merchant Ivory Productions and The American Place Theatre, where the play was originally seen off-Broadway.
It was in New York that Ismail Merchant of Merchant Ivory Productions first saw Mandvi in the play and decided he was a star in the making. Merchant went on to cast the actor in the title role in the film The Mystic Masseur, based on the novel by Nobel Laureate VS Naipaul. The film also receives its UK premiere in London this month, as part of the London Film Festival. The Mystic Masseur goes on general release in February 2002 following a gala evening at the Barbican Cinema where it will be screened as the inaugural event in a comprehensive Merchant Ivory retrospective celebrating the independent film-makers' 40th anniversary.
- by Terri Paddock