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Thursday, September 12, 2013

My autobiography for next generation: Ashok Amritraj

New Delhi -- He was a tennis ace. He is a prolific filmmaker. And now Ashok Amritraj has turned author with "Advantage Hollywood". The multi-tasker describes his autobiography as an "immigrant's journey" that focuses on his "growing up years in Chennai", "making it in the White Man's world" and says the book is for the new generation.

"Advantage Hollywood", result of two years of writing and jogging memories, will be launched Friday at the two-day CII Big Picture Summit. Interestingly, the book will be unveiled by action star Jean-Claude Van Damme, with whom Amritraj enjoys camaraderie since "Double Impact" days.
"It's for the next generation. People I would love to read it are kids in schools and colleges; people who want to make it in the entertainment business or any other business," Amritraj, who grew up in Chennai before moving to the US, told IANS in an exclusive interview here.
The 57-year-old added, "the book is also for those who want to go global. It kind of speaks to them."
Although he is based in the US, Amritraj felt India was an appropriate place to launch the book, as it is where it all started.
When probed about the highlights of the book, he said: "There are few things - one is sort of an immigrant's journey at a time when India was not fashionable, Asia was not fashionable. It's about early 1980s when America was sort of a centre of the world power and California was a mythical place. So it's journey in that period of time."
If one aspect of the book focuses on his struggle as a filmmaker, the other talks about how he balanced work and family after becoming successful. 
"Another thing was growing up in India, which has been very important part of my career," he said and added that people kind of found India essence in his films "Double Impact" and "Raising Helen".
Apart from family, he also talks about culture, tradition and arranged marriage in his book.
"It's also about making it in a white man's world at that time and the lessons learnt," he added.
Remembering his childhood days, he said, "Growing up in Chennai, Madras then, was much simpler and easier."
"It was absolutely wonderful time that we grew up in - my brothers (Vijay and Anand) and I - we have always been a close family," he said and added: "It's still a great place for today's kids… but it is different than it used to be."
In his 31-year-long stint in Hollywood, he has produced more than 100 films under his banner Hyde Park Entertainment and collaborated with big names like Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Angelina Jolie and Robert DeNiro.
So, why you finalised Van Damme to release your book?
"I could have had others, but I think we have a sort of a history together… it was not just one film ('Double Impact'), we share a friendship… Also, it was 'Double Impact' that sort of made his career take off and mine too. In fact, the book starts in 1991 when I made the film and got married," he said and admitting the double impact of the film in his real life.
Next week Amritraj will travel to his hometown Chennai to unveil the book.

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