Some are in search of their calling, others – destiny finds. The same can be said of upcoming sensation Siddharth Dhananjay. Born in India, raised in Indonesia Dhananjay was discovered by debutant director Geremy Jasper. Urban Asian got in touch with Dhananjay to learn more about his debut feature film Patti Cake$ and more. Here’s what he had to say:
What was it like working with Geremy Jasper?
It was an unforgettable first experience. Being that this was the first time I had been in camera aside from my WorldStar videos, it was a bit of a nerve-wracking feeling but thankfully having a director like Geremy made the experience a lot less stressful. He truly is a generous and open minded person to work with.
What prompted you to work on this film?
Patti Cake$ kind of just happened to me. I wasn’t even thinking of being an actor I was actually going to school for economics. One day I get an email from Geremy asking me if I’d like to be a part of this project, so I said why not and the rest is history.
How well do you identify with your character Jheri?
My character and I do not have much in common. First of all, he’s from New Jersey. I hadn’t really seen New Jersey until this film happened. What I can relate to is his enthusiastic, positive attitude.
What are some of the challenges you underwent in preparation of the role?
Much of the challenges with this character do not come from the crazy flamboyance Jheri has. That’s easy. It’s the more humanistic side of Jheri which is complex. His emotional connect, his rapport with Patti, creating the authenticity – that is the challenge.
Born in India, raised in Indonesia and now an American, how has your cross cultural experience influence you as an actor?
It defines my life and who I am. I don’t see it as a cross cultural experience but a lifestyle. I’ve been to so many places and each of those places have defined who I am. It has helped me as an actor by shaping my perspective. I can now approach things from different angles, become open minded but more so it has made me a better person. I am able to accept different cultures and people with ease due to my experiences.
What was your family’s first reaction to the film?
My family hasn’t seen the film yet. They’re really excited. They were surprised when I told them about the project and were very supportive of me.
Would you ever want to act in Bollywood films?
Yes definitely! I would love doing something there. I’d love to do a Tamil movie because I am from Chennai so it would be interesting to do a film in my native place.
What was your reaction to the first ever screening of Patti Cake$?
It was weird. I couldn’t watch it objectively. It was hard to watch myself on screen. For me it was just a beautiful memory. I’ll eventually get used to it.
What is your message to viewers?
Don’t go into the movie with a lot of preconceived notions. I hope everyone finds something they can relate to in the movie. The film has a lot to offer and is much needed in today’s world.
Written, directed, and with original music and songs by Geremy Jasper, starring Danielle Macdonald , Bridget Everett, Siddharth Dhananjay, Mamoudou Athie, Sahr Ngaujah, among others the film release on August 18th.