Kaderali puckers up for 'Kissing Cousins'

Romantic comedy screens in Indian section at Dubai fest

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DUBAI -- "Kissing Cousins," a "relatively romantic comedy" tells a story that, at first blush, might sound too taboo for the Dubai International Film Festival.

But American writer and debut feature director Amyn Kaderali said that's just not so. "Actually, it's less taboo in the Muslim world than in America or Europe," the NYU film school graduate said.

Asian American film festivals already have applauded the story of an L.A. guy who breaks off romantic relationships for money, a job that hardens his heart until the day his long lost British cousin melts it.

Kaderali and his leads, actors Rebecca Hazlewood, 26, and Samrat Chakrabarti, 33 -- both of Indian descent like him -- are hoping a distribution deal in the works with San Francisco startup Anywhere Road, could lead their $1 million picture somewhere.

Chatting in Dubai, where the film is in the Indian films section, they all agreed that the movie is more American than anything and could have been set any place and been about any race.

Still, in a moment when Hollywood is interested in Indian stories and Indian money, they form a happy ethnic film front.

"We're proud that Amyr stuck to his guns and cast South Asians his movie," said Chakrabarti, on break from shooting "The Waiting City" in India with Australian director Claire McCarthy.

Hazelwood, who was reared by her white adoptive English parents, said "Kissing" proved that movies can be colorblind. The film also stars David Alan Grier, P.J. Byrne and Zack Ward.

"We just want to work on good stories," said L.A.-based Hazelwood, adding, "'Kissing Cousins' has helped me explore being British and Indian."
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