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Interview: Ronjita Kulkarni | Photographs: Jewella C Miranda

Bride and Prejudice producer Deepak Nayar is perhaps the second-most influential Indian in Hollywood after filmmaker Ismail Merchant, having made movies like the Mel Gibson starrer The Million Dollar Hotel, Bill Pullman's The End Of Violence and director David Lynch's Lost Highway.

Oh, he also produced Mahesh Mathai's Bhopal Express and Gurinder Chadha's monster hit Bend It Like Beckham.

Thanks to his long association with Gurinder (they met during the filming of her film, What's Cooking), the duo have already started work on The Mistress Of Spices, starring Aishwarya Rai, to be directed by her husband Paul Mayeda Berges.

"Mistress Of Spices is in the same vein as Chocolat (Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp)," Nayar explains. "It is about a woman who sells spices and these spices kind of talk to her. She's a kind of a healer. But there are certain rules to the game and she ends up breaking them."

He is also producing Mahesh Mathai's next film, Sacred Thread.

Nayar, 44, may now live in Los Angeles, rub shoulders with Hollywood royalty. He may now stay at the plush J W Marriott when he visits Mumbai. But 24 years ago, he was a struggler in Mumbai like almost everyone else. After trying hard to survive for a couple of years -- once even staying at the Mumbai Central station because he had no place to live -- the Karnal native went abroad where he discovered the proverbial fame and fortune.

Nayar at the Prithvi Theatrein Juhu, northwest Mumbai. He used to assist Shashi Kapoor, who owns Prithvi Theatre.

Design: Uday Kuckian

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