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production notes feature film development

Encouraged by the short film's long and successful journey, and with the support and enthusiasm of our star Mr. Deep Roy, we've adapted the original story into a feature-length screenplay. Picking up where Mike Judge's Office Space left off, the feature carries the searing torch of satire into the 21st century, critiquing the corporate world with an insider's eye and a big-hearted empathy for its nameless drones. This time around the story doesn't rely solely on outsourcing to get across its themes, but explores the immigrant pursuit of the American dream in a humorous and original way. Deep Roy is excited to reprise his role as Sandeep Majumdar, and we're excited to bring his story to a wider audience. We have the script, we have the schedule, and we have the budget. The only thing we don't have...is you.

Marketing/Fanbase/Target Audience

Who still believes in the American Dream? Who still believes that hard work and self-sacrifice will eventually pay off in the end? To those Americans just now pulling themselves from the mire of the Great Recession, the American Dream is nothing but an empty promise, a fatuous ideal left over from the post-WWII era. Though degraded in the eyes of our native sons, the Dream continues to captivate an ever-growing number of Indian immigrants, currently the third-largest immigrant group in the U.S. at 1.9 million. It is the journey of one such newcomer, computer programmer Sandeep Majumdar, that is at the heart of the absurdist comedy The Ballad of Sandeep.

During its lauded festival run, the short film version of the Ballad distinguished itself from other comedies in its dramatization of the effects of outsourcing on Sandeep and his co-workers. The feature-length version, in addition to exploring the ethical implications of outsourcing, wrangles with a broader and more varied set of themes: spirituality, materialism, human relations in a mechanized world, and the role work plays in defining the self. Ever mindful of its comedic obligations, the Ballad tempers these headier concerns with broad-stroke satire, subtle sexual innuendo, and a modest helping of old-fashioned slapstick, inspired in part by lead actor Mr. Deep Roy.

Deep, a 40-year veteran of T.V. and film, brings to the project a well-established fanbase. Ranked by IMDb as India's second-most recognizable actor, Deep attracts followers of Tim Burton, the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises, and Danny McBride's HBO series Eastbound and Down. Science fiction devotees used to seeing Deep in exotic or freakish roles will enjoy watching him take off the mask and walk in the shoes of an ordinary man. Director Derek Frey and writers The Minor Prophets claim loyal fanbases in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, London, and Hawaii-not to mention a legion of Facebook friends from all over the sub-continent.

If Swami Vivekananda were to have a fever dream about Mike Judge's Office Space, that dream would be called The Ballad of Sandeep. Because so much of the film centers on the Indian immigrant experience and the philosophical tension between East and West, the primary target audience is Indian-Americans, demographically male, middle-class, and college-educated. But that audience must also include the 3.4 million Americans who, according to a Congressional Research Service report, have lost their jobs due to outsourcing since 2003; as well as the scores of men and women across the globe working in the IT field, the unsung heroes of our digital age; and, if they'd be so willing, the rest of the country's immigrant population, the new breed of pursuers ardently revising the old American Dream.

director derek frey's comments

Throughout the long and successful journey of THE BALLAD OF SANDEEP short film, fans and colleagues asked if there were plans to develop the concept into a feature film. Honestly this was something that the writers and I had not thought of when we made the short. Our goal was to tell the story we wanted to tell in the best possible way we could on limited means. I knew I really liked the character and ideas on how to expand the story came very easily. Now a full year after the festival run ended we have a feature screenplay, budget and schedule as well as the support and enthusiasm of our star Mr. Deep Roy. The story has not simply been expanded but also updated. The theme doesn't revolve solely around the concept of outsourcing but encompasses comentary on the pursuit of the American dream in our day and age in a humorous and original way.

The Ballad of Sandeep short film was the result of many talented people I've known through my life. It marks the third film I've collaborated with The Minor Prophets, Philadelphia's premiere Comedy Troupe. Two of the prophets were childhood friends from my hometown in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. We lost touch after high school but were reunited in 2005, which led to the creation of 4th and 99, a short film that was accepted into the 2007 Festival de Cannes. Deep Roy and I have been friends since working together on Planet of the Apes in 2001. We later worked together on Big Fish, Corpse Bride and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Over the years Deep and I spoke numerous times of creating a film with him specifically in mind. When I read the script for The Ballad of Sandeep I knew it was time to make it happen.

The Minor Prophets took upon themselves the task of writing a script which would revolve around Deep as a man rather than as a character hidden behind a mask.. The story touches upon many truths about Deep. His career is filled with so many memorable characters, however from behind the makeup and costumes we never get to see him as a true person. The story also touches upon the aftermath of difficult economic times in the United States. Many Americans have recently faced the harsh reality of having their jobs outsourced to countries such as India. The Prophets, having encountered this reality in their own jobs, turned this idea on its head. Behind the humor of The Ballad of Sandeep is a poignant tale. Filming at multiple locations took place in and around Philadelphia, PA in August of 2010. The opportunity to return to my hometown to direct Deep Roy in this film was quite an amazing and surreal experience.

Once production and editing was complete, maestros Mike Higham and Andy Richard delivered a truly diverse and original score for the film. The odd mix of Henry Mancini, Ravi Shankar and Aaron Copland served as their inspiration. I have previously worked with Mike and Andy on Sweeney Todd, Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. For all of us this project was deeply personal. For the Minor Prophets, the film served as a chance to step away from day jobs to show their true talent as writers and comedians. For Deep, a chance to show what he can do as a person rather than as someone defined by his height. For Mike and Andy, a chance to demonstrate their amazing skills as the true musicians and composers they are. And for me, a chance to come full circle, collaborating with creative and gifted friends to create something truly unique. The Ballad of Sandeep has surpassed my wildest expectations, and I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to show it to audiences. Now with a feature screenplay and budget in hand, we're getting close to our dream of making The Ballad of Sandeep feature film, bringing the further trials and tribulations of Sandeep Majumdar to an even wider audience.

The Ballad Of Deep Roy. An interview with the main, myth and screen legend. By Leela Shanson

behind the scenes gallery

    View full set on flickr

    production notes production notes production timeline - the ballad of sandeep

    The Minor Prophets conceived of the story in late 2009. Director/Producer Derek Frey pitched the story to Deep Roy in Los Angeles in February of 2010. Deep agreed to it immediately. The final script was completed in April of 2010. Preproduction began in May of 2010. Filming took place in and around Philadelphia, PA in August of 2010. Editing in London ran up until late 2010 with scoring taking place in the UK at Air Lyndhurst Studios in February of 2011. A special advanced work print screening was arranged for Deep Roy in Malibu, California in March of 2011. The Ballad of Sandeep premiered at the historic Trocadero Theater in Philadelphia, PA on April 15th 2011.

    production notes behind the scenes gallery

    The Ballad of Sandeep is a drama-comedy film with a sharp message about fairness. It represents the current economic hardship of American workers being less valued because of competitive advantages from other countries. Taking place in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania the film tells the story of middle- aged , Indian-born Sandeep Majumdar (played by Deep Roy) who suddenly loses his IT job because the company has outsourced his work to Bangalore , India. After a futile effort to find employment elsewhere, he manages to get back his job, only by pretending to work from Bangalore under the alias Sudesh Patel—with a significantly reduced salary and increased working hours. The writers, The Minor Prophets, have created a unique, humorous and poignant tale which is quite timely considering the world's economic climate.

    Carrying on this social virtue, Derek Frey , Director, Producer, Cinematographer and Editor of The Ballad of Sandeep has brilliantly demonstrated his burning passion to make this film entertaining and interesting. His original and creative compositing of shots, combined with smooth editing, allows the story to flow fluently. As an American, Derek Frey has succeeded to make an Indian styled film.

    The score to The Ballad of Sandeep is entertaining with the main theme song pleasantly jolting the audience with its world music style combined with a funny and light rhythm.

    Deep Roy has successfully enlivened the character of Sandeep Majumdar , a neat and noble man who refuses let his predicament become the graveyard of his American dream.

    Once again, a cultural approach towards humanity and betterment for life is created by this excellent short film . It is fit with our mission, and therefore, The Ballad of Sandeep is a finalist in our festival.

    Irene Christina,
    Festival Co-Director
    International Film Festival for Peace, Inspiration and Equality

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