KINGMAN – Neel Patel knows a friend or two who struggled through a myriad of obstacles to become citizens of the United States, which inspired the local restaurateur, motel owner and executive producer to make his third movie, “Mr. Deshee.”
Patel Films is holding its first casting call for the film Sept. 12 in Kingman, then Las Vegas and either New York or New Jersey, Patel said Friday during an interview at India Spice n Bar, the restaurant he opened with his wife, Chaitali, in 2016.
“Around the world, everyone has a passion to come to America because America is the land of opportunity and I feel that,” said Patel, who legally immigrated to New Jersey in 1996.
“If I was in India, I would not fulfill my dream in the movie industry. It’s too hard. If you do not have a godfather, you cannot go into this industry.”
Patel produced “Party Bus to Hell” in 2017, and followed with “Art of the Dead” this year, both starring Tara Reid.
“Party Bus to Hell” played in select theaters in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and major metro areas. When a party bus on its way to Burning Man festival filled with a bunch of sexy young adults breaks down in the desert in the middle of a group of Satanic worshippers, all hell breaks loose. Some scenes were shot at India Spice n Bar.
“Mr. Deshee” is about an Indian man who can’t get his visa, so he pays a handsome sum to an agent in India to help him get to America. When his plane lands, he realizes he’s not in America, but somewhere in Mexico.
“Then the journey starts,” Patel said. In the end, the immigrant realizes that family is more important than money, and returns to India.
“This is going to be an international film in Hollywood and Bollywood style in English, not just an Indian movie,” he said.
Patel said people of India are not fond of the Academy Award-winning movie about their country, “Slumdog Millionaire,” because it only depicts poverty and the poor parts of India.
“There are many other things in India as well,” he said.
Patel earned his master of chemistry degree at Maninagar Science College in India, but also studied theater and participated as an actor and assistant director in college productions.
“I never wanted to do work as a chemist. I just wanted to do business,” said Patel, who owned a chain of eyebrow threading salons in Las Vegas and California among his many business ventures. He also owns the Lido Motel in Kingman and invests in real estate in India.
“My dream is to work in the film industry. That is why I moved to Las Vegas in 2003,” Patel said. “That’s my passion, so I just keep doing that.”
He invested about $70,000 to $80,000 in two movies while in India, breaking even on his return. He backed out of one project before filming began because he knew he would only lose more money. It never made it to the screen.
That’s why he decided to write his own scripts with help from a Hollywood screenwriter. His budget for “Mr. Deshee” is around $300,000, he said.
“I know the money I put in, it’s like a blind business. You have to be ready to lose the entire money. You never know. That’s a big challenge,” Patel said. “That’s why you cannot see more India people in this industry. They’ll take the challenge to invest in motels or restaurants, but not the film industry.”
Patel said he’s looking for about 20 actors of all ages and ethnicities at his casting calls, including Mexicans, Chinese, Middle Easterners and Caucasians. He already has the lead female character, but can’t give her name, and is still looking for the male lead. He plans to film in Kingman, Mexico and India.
“I live in Kingman. I need local people, and I want to give a chance to the community,” he said.