Breakaway stickhandles around cultural issues
Rob Lowe has filmed a lot of movies in Toronto over the years, but most of the time Canada's largest city does not usually play itself. But one of the reasons he is excited about his latest film, Breakaway, is that the city actually gets to be itself.
Set in hockey-mad Toronto, the hockey comedy Breakaway tells the story of Rajveer Singh (Vinay Virmani), who grows up in a suburban Sikh-Canadian home, but fights the traditional views of his father (Anupam Kher).
And just as Toronto has struggled to define itself over the years as "Hollywood North," Virmani's character also seeks to find his own identity.
"I have always struggled with the balance between being Canadian and being Indian so I took elements from life…and wanted to create this story for all families across Canada and the world," said the Canadian-born actor and screenwriter.
In the style of Bend It Like Beckham, Rajveer works in his uncle's trucking company, but what he really wants is to play hockey. He even cuts his hair — an act forbidden to devout Sikhs — in an effort to look more "Canadian."
Rejected when he tries out for a local team called the Hammerheads, he drafts Punjabi friends to form a team of their own. Lowe, who once starred in his own hockey movie, Youngblood, plays coach Dan Winters, who takes on the challenge to lead the sad sack team against the Hammerhead bullies.
Breakaway features the ever-popular themes of cross-cultural romance and one culture trying to incorporate into the wider community.
This film is a metaphor for any group of people coming from a foreign land and wanting to be assimilated into that society
"This film is a metaphor for any group of people coming from a foreign land and wanting to be assimilated into that society," said director Robert Lieberman.
Also featuring pop icons such as Bollywood star Akshay Kumar, Canadian rapper Drake and Canadian comedian Russell Peters, the comedy also explores the theme of being accepted for being yourself.
This point was underlined by the cast of international stars assembled for the film, said producer Ajay Virmani, father of star
"The key thing here was to put together a team. Not only a dream team of producers who are bringing their own expertise, but it was also a dream team of the cast," he said.
"My strength all my life has been finding the right and the best people to be on the team and I think team Breakaway here is what it is all about."
Breakaway, which debuts in Toronto Saturday night, will hit Canadian theatres on Sept. 30 and also be shown on approximately 600 screens across India.