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His abs have flashed a number of ads of major brands across the world, but emerging actor Upen Patel is proving himself more than just a hunk. Latoya Newman got to chat with the rising star before a visit to South Africa this week, and learnt that he was breaking into south Indian and French cinema this year…
MODEL-turned-actor Upen Patel is headed for South Africa this weekend where he’ll be compèring the charity fund-raiser Fashion Fusion, in aid of Twilight Children, a home based in Hillbrow, Joburg.
The event, arranged by events company and production house Platinum Ice, has been marketed as one that is set to take the South African fashion industry by storm, with a primary focus on events centred on fashion, life and culture.
The showcase takes place at Killarney Cinecentre in Joburg on October 25 and concludes at Suncoast Cinecentre in Durban on Sunday, October 27.
The event is to be headed by Bollywood fashion icon and celebrity designer Rohit Verma.
We caught up with Patel to chat more about his imminent visit to the country and his career, and found that he loved South Africa.
“I shot a film called Shakalaka Boom Boom in Johannesburg and I lived there for about three months. But I have been back to the city so many times for other shows, to shoot, and just to holiday. In fact, Joburg is one of my favourite cities.”
Not quite the same for Durban, though, which Patel will be visiting for the first time – a visit he’s quite thrilled is happening. “I’ve never been to Durban, or anywhere else in South Africa, so I’m quite excited about going there.
“I know I have a lot of fans there because I do get a lot of twitter messages, so I’m quite excited about that… I love South Africa, so being asked to compère this event worked out perfectly,” he said.
Patel is busy with two major moves in his film career, one of them being his debut in south Indian film – in a film that’s set to be one of India’s most expensive, titled I, which will be directed by S Shankar.
“It’s been just amazing…. working with Shankar is like working with Stephen Spielberg. They’ve got British experts coming in and doing special effects, they’ve got action directors from Iron Man 3 working on the action…
“It’s just a really huge film and I’m really excited that my introduction and my launch into south Indian film is with this movie. It’s a huge opportunity and I’m very lucky to be working with a director like Shankar. It’s a very exciting moment in my life,” says the rising star.
Director Yann Danh is at the helm of the French movie in which Patel takes the leading role.
“I haven’t started working on this film yet; I start work on it in January and I’m quite excited about it.
“It’s kind of like an action thriller, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m doing the lead in that film.
“I’m a model and I’ve modelled and been the face for a lot of top brands (among them Hugo Boss and Tommy Hilfiger). At the same time, while I’m doing that, I did the casting for these films, so it has kind of worked out.
“So I feel like I’m crossing over with the Bollywood career, international modelling career and now I’m doing a French film and south Indian film… it’s very good experience for me,” Patel said.
More than just a pretty face, the award-winning model/actor is already laying the foundation for a career in cinema beyond the camera.
The young professional has already attained a diploma in film and in scriptwriting, among other achievements.
“I love the whole process of filming and the whole art of putting a story together, and I would love to one day maybe direct a film or produce a film, and get more into cinema, because I just love every aspect of it. I think as an artist I also wanted to learn more about how things work behind the scenes. How things are put together, how direction works, so I took time out to educate myself and kind of hone my craft behind the scenes, which is wonderful… So at some point that is definitely something I’d like to do, because I do have a passion for film-making.”
Always keen on keeping in touch with his fans, Patel has encouraged his South African fans to keep in contact over Twitter, through handle @upenpatelworld, especially ahead of his visit this weekend.
• Tickets for the star-studded Fashion Fusion charity event at Killarney Cinecentre and Suncoast Cinecentre can be bought from all Cine centre cinemas, or by logging on to www.cinecentre.co.za and clicking “FASHION FUSION” in the movie box option.