Local reality-TV writer/director Suju Vijayan’s debut full-length feature film THE PLAYBACK SINGER chronicles the story of Priya (Navi Rawat, of TV’s NUMB3ERS and THE O.C.), a hardworking public interest lawyer and her husband Ray (Ross Partridge), whose aimless career path finds him now as a freelance designer/builder of custom-made backyard jungle gyms. Ray’s lack of direction and Priya’s long hours leaves them barely hanging on as a married couple, both emotionally and financially. The arrival of her estranged father Ashok (Piyush Mishra) places an additional strain on the couple’s household and finances. Ashok, a washed-up “playback singer” (a singer who pre-records songs for use in movies for soundtracks or lip-syncing actors), journeys from India to the couple’s home in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley to perform in a concert. Promised an easy return on his investment and a huge audience, in reality Ashok soon realizes that he had been swindled. Ashamed that he was gullible enough to fall for the concert scam, Ashok immediately wants to go back to India. And although Ashok had never been much of a father over the years (Priya is his only child, born of his second out of five wives), Priya feels enough sympathy for her father that she invites him to stay with them — at least for awhile. With Priya away at work most days, Ashok and Ray make their forced cohabitation miserable, at best. But it is in these contentious moments of one upsmanship and avoidance of each other that some of the wittiest and poignant moments surface.
Director Vijiyan (BLESSING, Festival 2005) lures local viewers in with a feeling of familiarity in the storyline, characters and suburban settings. However, there is enough originality in THE PLAYBACK SINGER that keeps you eager to share in the discoveries of the characters as they learn more and more about each other. And as a real treat for viewers, THE PLAYBACK SINGER is graced by the fine acting of veteran Indian actor and singer Piyush Mishra, who brings nearly three decades of performing achievement to the titular role of Ashok.
Synopsis written by: Vera DeVera