British-Indian actor Phaldut Sharma, the voice behind the "goofy guy" singing Mera joota hai Japani inGravity, feels the classic number from Raj Kapoor's film Shri 420 fit beautifully in the movie starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.
Sharma, who has worked with director Alfonso Cuaron on Children of Men and in TV shows likeEastEnders, Hunted, Casualty and Roger Roger, said he opted for this song because it was "a classic, playful and celebratory" number.
"Alfonso Cuaron had asked me to put together a 20 minute pitch when he was trying to get the film made. They had this slow romantic Bollywood song but I don't remember what it was.
This song suited the character's nature and mood better. "It has a different kind of tempo to it. It is much more celebratory and playful. I also liked the idea of this man who is floating above in space and looking down and is mentioning that his shoes are from Japan, his hat is from Russia but his heart is Hindustani," Sharma told PTI over phone from London.
Sharma said that since the actual process of making the film was very closed, he did not understand why they wanted to have an Indian origin character in the movie but realised its importance after watching the complete film.
"The actual process of working on the film was very closed and very confidential. I was in but I had no understanding why the character was of Indian origin. But it made sense when I saw the complete film," Sharma said.
The actor says though it was a small part, he decided to be a part of the project because it had Cuaron as a helmer. "In effect, there are only two characters in the film.
But, I like the small impact this character had. He puts the audience in ease, gets few laughs before the actual story kicks off. I enjoyed being able to provide that small relief." The Warner Bros film, which released in India on October 11,crossed the USD 300 million mark at the global box office in just three weeks after its release.
Sharma, whose ancestors settled in Guyana from Uttar Pradesh and later moved to London, calls himself "a South American, Indian, Londoner".
He is happy with the way his part of fellow astronaut 'Shariff' in the 90 minute film has captured the imagination of people.
"It is such a classic and the role seems to have captured the imagination of people. Aziz Ansari tweeted that he loved 'Gravity' but was disappointed that he did not get to play the goofy guy. On my part, I would have loved to watch it with Indian audiences."
The actor is currently busy producing and acting in his own film called "I Gotta Be Me". "I enjoy playing quirky and colourful characters. I am working on my movie called 'I Gotta Be Me'. I play a guy who is working on a tribute show for Rat Packs. I play a TV star who is down on his luck in the movie. I am also producing it." Sharma said he likes the idea of multi-culturalism which is finding more space in the entertainment sphere.
"I have worked in all areas so I have experienced a lot of the industry but there are always going to be limitations. In America, most of the people are from somewhere else, so the playing field is more level. I think the world is getting smaller today and these things are happening sooner rather than later," Sharma said.
Asked whether Hollywood is finally acknowledging Indian talent, Sharma said including India and China makes better business sense.
"It would be silly to cut out that kind of massive population. They put together a version of Iron Man especially for China that had two popular Chinese actors because they wanted to key in on that part of the world. The more people feel included, the more successful it is," he said.