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Producer Kavita Munjal and Anjalika Mathur's 'Leela', a film by Somnath Sen, is based on the South Asian-American experience. It provides a dynamic expression of the struggles and celebrations of the expatriate lifestyle. Leela is likely to be a crossover film; popular among expatriate South Asians and mainstream English speaking audiences the world over. The film is a true reflection of how the South Asian-American community is beginning to emerge, blend, and influence the mainstream American culture in its own exquisite ways. A recipient of Special Jury Award, Reelworld Film Festival, Toronto, 2002 and participant of Common Wealth Film Festival Manchester, UK, 2002.

Leela is the story of Leela (Dimple Kapadia), an aware, liberal woman who struggles with the true meaning of independence. It is also the story of Krishna (Amol Mhatre), born of Indian parents in America but uncomfortable with his hyphenated existence. Leela is a universal story of two paths that cross each other and pause a moment before moving on.

After the death of her mother, Leela, a Professor at Bombay University, loses purpose. She welcomes the opportunity to teach in the U.S., leaving her "perfect" life in India behind. A product of a single parent environment, KRIS (born Krishna), an eighteen-year old Indian American, is uncomfortable in his own skin. With a hovering mother Chaitali (Deepti Naval) and a father-of-convenience Jai (Gulshan Grover), Kris turns away from his milieu. He takes Leela's South Asian history class. On learning of dark secrets his mother has kept from him, Kris finds comfort in his friendship with Leela. They develop a strong bond as Leela opens Kris to a world beyond black and white. In turn, Krishna pushes Leela to crystallize the grays in her own life. She begins to scrutinize afresh her crumbling marriage to world-renowned poet, Nashaad (Vinod Khanna). Nashaad's philandering ways have slowly worn down Leela's love for him.

Things come to a head when Nashaad suddenly flies in from India. Nashaad and Krishna realize that they are essentially battling for the same love. In the final showdown, both Kris and Leela learn lessons of life.

The film has been simultaneously shot in India and America. Ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh renders melody to the lyrics of Gulzar and Abbas Tyrewala. Watch out for this comeback kind of movie of Vinod Khanna and Deepti Naval and another memorable performance from Dimple Kapadia.

- editorial

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