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Anil Sunkara’s Films: From the Missile Man of India to The Curse of the Billy Goat

Courtesy of Anil Sunkara

Born and raised in India, filmmaker Anil Sunkara has built an impressive slate of films in the short span of a career. His passion for films as a child, led him to study filmmaking in the United States at the New York Film Academy in New York before becoming a producer. He now has over 20 films under his belt that range from small projects to big budget features.

Last year, Sunkara founded Dream Merchants, Inc. with his close friend and partner Abhishek Agarwal. According to Sunkara, the duo started Dream Merchants “with the intention of starting international projects, which would cater to the worldwide audience.”

Sunkara talked about his collaboration with his partner. “Abhishek Agarwal is known to me as a film buyer and distributor of our previous films,” explained Sunkara. “We had some mutual interests and could get associated quickly on different projects.”

Together they have plans “to revolutionize and better equip the media and entertainment sector to effectuate great ideas. Dream Merchants will be producing compelling stories… most of the projects will be realistic or dramatized based on real incidents.”

Such is the case with their first film, a biopic of Dr. Abdul Kalam. Although Kalam’s story may not be known in the United States he is a well-known figure in Sunkara’s motherland. Known as the “Missile Man of India,” Kalam rose from humble beginnings to champion the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. He was dubbed “the People’s President” when he became the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007.

When Sunkara took the idea to Agarwal, his partner quickly supported the idea. “When I wanted to make a movie on Dr. Kalam, he was the first one to jump on to the band wagon and gave me the necessary strength and confidence to pull off this project,” acknowledged Sunkara.

Sunkara explained why they wanted to make a movie about this historic figure. “Dr.Abdul Kalam is a biopic on the most loved and respected Indian president to date. He is some one who has the most popularity in India and is the best loved personality after Gandhi. The film depicts his life from [his beginnings as] a newspaper vendor from a small village on the shores of South India to becoming the People’s President of India. The incidents in his life are a filmmaker’s dream.”

He continued, “The subject depicts a filmmakers hit formula ‘underdog winning all’ — a person who was virtually unknown comes to earn Bharat Ratna, the highest honor for an Indian, and later makes India into a nuclear nation in spite of international apartheid by nuclear countries. In the process he makes sure that the entire world intelligence agencies were masked for a period of 30 days. In fact, the nuclear testing of India is regarded as the biggest CIA failure of the century.”

This is just one of the films that Dream Merchants, Inc. has on its slate. They also are working on a movie about the Curse of the Billy Goat and the Chicago Cubs. As legend has it, William Sianis, the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, placed the hex on the Cubbies in 1945. Sianis was asked to leave the Cubs’ ballpark, Wrigley Field, after the smell of his pet goat Murphy sparked complaints from other patrons. After Sianis announced, “Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more,” the club went on to a legendary 71 year losing streak until finally winning the World Series in 2016.

Sunkara described his motivation for pursuing the project, “I am a Cubs fan from the day I landed in Chicago and am naturally inclined to watch all Cubs games. The fans were so dejected seeing the Cubs losing all of the close games in the end and the Curse of Billy Goat was believed by all the fans. Most of the fans used to perform rituals to make sure that the curse was gone.”

So, Sunkara decided to take a unique look at the Cubs’ story. “The Chicago fans are very emotional. After seeing what went through their minds on the day Chicago won the World Series, it made me come up with a compelling script on Chicago’s win from a fan’s point of view. What did four of the Cubs’ biggest fans do on the day of the final game against the Indians? How did they respond to the see-saw of fortunes? How did they respond later? These comical and emotional facts along with the real game will form the major chunk of the movie.”

To track the progress of these projects and see what’s next on Dream Merchants’ slate, visit their website.

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