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Being an outsider sets me free: Hollywood’s Andrij Parekh

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New Delhi, June 22, 2019-

Andrij Parekh feels his Gujarati roots make him good at business, and his Slavic soul infuses an emotional element to his creative work. The filmmaker says being of a mixed race has led him to a cultural place of being an ‘outsider’ in Hollywood, and that sets him free from many prejudices.

Parekh, of Ukrainian and Indian descent, has worked on “Half Nelson”, “Sugar”, “Blue Valentine”, “The Zookeeper’s Wife”, “13 Reasons Why”, “Madame Bovary” and “Show Me a Hero”. He served as director and cinematographer on the HBO series “Succession”, which airs in India on Star World.

“Being ‘mixed race’ and ‘other’ has lent me the unique cultural place of being an outsider — and as an outsider, I think that I’ve always ‘watched’,” Parekh told while looking back at his journey in the industry.

“That’s what makes me a good cinematographer and director — I simply watch without trying to interfere too much (with actors). And people can’t pin me down with stereotypes or prejudices. So in many ways I’m free,” he added.

Parekh was born in Boston and raised in Minneapolis.

“Because I’m mixed race, I’m not sure that people do or can stereotype me. They often have no idea where I’m from or what I am,” he said.

How do you think the culture of India and Ukraine influences your work?

“I have the combination of Indo and Slavic roots. My Gujarati side ensures I’m good at business, and my Slavic soul has a strong emotional element,” he said.

After spending 20 years in Hollywood as a cinematographer, Parekh feels the world behind the camera is getting diverse, “especially in New York City”, where he lives and works.

As a director, Parekh has helmed short films like “Dead Roosters”, “Zimove Vesilya”. He directed an episode of show “Watchmen” and three episodes of “Succession”, which follows the lives of the Roy family as they contemplate their future once their aging father (essayed by Brian Cox) begins to step back from the media and entertainment conglomerate.

On balancing work as a cinematographer and director, he said: “I approach directing as I do cinematography. I try and imagine the scenes visually and emotionally. I began recording the scripts and playing them back to myself and this would allow my mind to wander to best create and serve the written scenes.”

Parekh wants to tell stories with “subjects that have some social value, that pass some social critique and comment on the human condition”.

“I’d love to make a feature. I just need to find the right script. And I’ve been fascinated by the Moorish influence in Europe, and would love to do a film or TV series about the last days of the Moors in Spain,” he added.

What’s next?

“I’m currently shooting (as cinematographer) a film for a friend in NYC. I’ll be directing two episodes of ‘A Brave New World’ in London in the fall, a TV series based on the Aldous Huxley novel.”  (Agency)

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