Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Soca King Is Coming Hopefully to a Cinema Near You

Natalie Perera and Machel Montano in Bazodee
huffington post blog - pending

The King of Soca and perennial star of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, Machel Montano, has a mission.  Black. White. Brown. Yellow. Montano feverishly believes that Soca Music is the beat of the 21st century
This weekend the Trinidadian singer is seeing his new movie Bazodee, opening in theatres across Toronto.  The feature film -- a musical -- is a fusion of Soca music and Bollywood movie styling.
Fresh from a sell-out premiere at the just completed Caribbean Tales Film Festival in Toronto, Bazodee is being booked into Canadian theatres by Serafini Films.  They are billing Bazodee as "a 'Come Alive' Caribbean Musical featuring Machel Montano in his debut and the heartbeat of his Soca music, influenced by the traditional sounds of India and electronica." The movie will be shown at three theatres in Toronto, Brampton and Mississauga this weekend.


45-year old Machel Montano, the longtime soca grandmaster of the annual Toronto Caribbean Carnival Parade (and carnivals around the world), has won countless awards for his singing and songwriting .When people dance on the streets in carnival parades from Port of Spain, Trinidad to Toronto, it is done to a song written and sung by Machel.  Over his career he has recorded over 70 songs suitable for Soca road marches including Party Done, Waiting on the Stage, You, Bend Over, and, One More Time/Wine (all featured in the movie).
"He wakes up every morning and thinks 'How am I going to bring Soca to world," said Canadian based business manager Che Kothari at an open-mike session on stage at the Caribbean Tales Film Festival last week. This film, Bazodee is a huge part of his plan of attack.
" It took 10-years to make this movie. The financing, in the Caribbean was a huge challenge -- I don't know if I could do it again!" explained producer Ancil McKain to me after the movie.  "It cost $2-million to make.  That isn't big money by Hollywood standards, but, if it wasn't for Machel investing his own money in the feature it would never have been made."
Set on the colourful islands of Trinidad & Tobago, Bazodee pulses with sensuous dance rhythms.  It is a Romeo and Juliet story that was shot on the crowded streets of Port-Of-Spain during last year's Carnival.
Bazodee Talk Back at Caribbean Tales. Ancil far left Che Kothari second right

Anita Ponchouri (Natalie Perera), is the dutiful Indian daughter of a deep-in-debt Trinidad based businessman (Kabir Bedi). She is about to marry a wealthy Londoner (Staz Nair), but a chance encounter with Soca singer, Lee de Leon (superstar Machel Montano), sets the love story in motion. de Leon agrees to perform at the engagement party for both families. Unable to deny their mutual attraction, Anita must now choose between the answer to her family's financial prayers and the possibility of true love.
Dancing. Romancing. Drama and Humour playing out on screen to a soundtrack of 33+ years of Montano's biggest hits, have already made the 110 minute film a huge hit in the Caribbean where it was released earlier this summer.
Montano and Serafina Films admit that the movie has to be seen by more than just the Caribbean diaspora, to make Bazodee a financial success and to get worldwide converts to the fine art of Soca Jumping UP!
Montana didn't make it to Toronto for the movie's premiere, instead sending Instagram messages the SRO Royal Theatre audience during the wrap-up post movie chalk talk.  He also talked to Billboard Magazine in LA about the movie.  “It’s important to put a film out that tells the story of Caribbean culture, alongside the story of soca music,” says Montano about the movie, which Serafini Releasing hopes to release to 200 screens nationwide. “Reggae music did what it did, and I think now Soca can do the same.”

Ancil McKain interviewed by Paradise Hendrickson
" The movie is shot in English, but, we did think about adding subtitles when Trini dialect is used.  But you know, the movie has been showing in Manhattan since August 1, mostly to white audiences.  We surveyed them and 95% came back and said No, don't add subtitles,” continued Ancil McKain. "The Trini accent  is very much a singsong style of speaking.  At first they (white audience members) don't get it,  but, by the time we get to the big finale everyone gets it!" 
This weekend they have nailed down just three Canadian theatres to run the film. Montano and McKain are praying that that this weekend’s screening beach head will bring more cinema bookers into Montano's cult of Soca.


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