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The writer and director of a new independent movie shot on the streets of west London says it combines "British humour with an Indian heart".

Amar Akbar & Tony is the first feature film by the award-winning documentary maker Atul Malhotra, who lives in Acton and grew up in Harrow.

The cast includes former Goodness Gracious Me stars Meera Syal and Nina Wadia, and the original soundtrack comes courtesy of the acclaimed music producer Rishi Rich.

"It's a film with British humour and an Indian heart," Atul Malhotra said. "Indian humour is very much 'more is more', whereas British audiences like their humour more refined, which is what we've gone for.

"But Indian films also tend to wear their hearts on their sleeves, while British film makers hold the emotions a bit more in check, which is why I feel this film has more of an Indian heart."

Atul Malhotra, the writer and director of Amar Akbar & Tony (Robert Viglasky)

The title is an homage to the 1970s Bollywood comedy Amar Akbar Anthony but that is where the similarities end. Mr Malhotra's comedy follows three lifelong friends from very different backgrounds - a Sikh, a Muslim and an Irish Catholic - as they search for love and success with mixed results.

Shot on location across west London, with Chiswick's Tabard Theatre, the Euphorium Nightclub and Bar in Acton, and Hounslow West tube stations among the backdrops, it is somewhat of a paean to the London Mr Malhotra knows and loves but says is all too rarely seen on the big screen.

"It's a rites of passage film with a very positive message about multiculturalism. I think that's important now because a lot of the stuff I'm hearing at the moment is about people hating each other," he said. "It reflects different communities living together in harmony because that's the London I know. I see people from different backgrounds hanging out together.

"Although there are a lot of issues in the world there's a positive side which isn't often reflected on film, and I thought this was an opportunity to show that."

Rez Kempton, Sam Vincenti and Martin Delaney in Amar Akbar & Tony (Robert Viglasky)

The inevitable 'British Asian' tag has been a bit of millstone around Mr Malhotra's neck. He says distributors have been reluctant to bite as it's been so long since the slew of breakthrough successes, including Bend It Like Beckham, which was shot in Hounslow, in the late '90s and early noughties.

He said British Asian films have too often been guilty of resorting to lazy clichés in recent years, and audiences have grown tired of seeing the same characters.

"This is very much a multicultural film about Londoners but there's a danger of it being ghettoised as an Asian film" he told getwestlondon. "We feel this is a very different film with characters that haven't been seen before and we're desperate for people to give it a shot."

Mr Malhotra has a proud TV pedigree, having produced and directed numerous shows for the small screen, including the award-winning ITV documentary Big Time, about a dwarf rock band trying to be taken seriously in the music industry.

But he has found it hard work getting backing for his first foray on the silver screen, having had to scrabble around to raise money to keep the project going three times - before filming, before editing and then to get it into cinemas.

Given the minimal budget, it is a testament to his script that he was able to secure the services of the likes of Meera Syal and Nina Wadia, to whom he is eternally grateful.

But he said he is equally excited about the rest of the cast, including Martin Delaney who plays Tony, the dim-witted friend who is obsessed with winning over the Asian woman of his dreams.

Mr Delaney starred for three years in the soap Family Affairs, winning numerous awards, and also appeared in New Zealand's biggest drama Shortland Street before making the leap to the big screen. His film work includes parts in the Oscar-winning Zero Dark Thirty and in Now You See Me 2.

"Tony's not the smartest guy but he's very endearing because he just wants to find love and settle down," he says. "It's a coming of age story about people in their late 20s and early 30s. I

" think in the past there was almost a set of rules people followed when it came to getting married and having children, but now people are more interested in the discovery process.

"This is essentially a film about love and the different forms that takes. All the 'boys' are looking for 'the one' but you also see their love for each other shining through."

Amar Akbar & Tony is scheduled for release in the UK on April 17. For more about the film, visit www.amarakbarandtony.com or see the Facebook page Amar, Akbar & Tony.