With Ravi Kapoor’s latest insightful comedy, ‘Four Samosas,’ the writer-director set out to make a heist film on the strength of its characters rather than the circumstances. One of them being Vinny, played by actor-comedian Venk Potula, the wannabe-rapper with big plans and little action—until he finds out his ex girlfriend and possible love of his life is getting married. And to “that guy.”
Potula recruits some friends for an elaborate plan to foil the matrimonial ceremonies, and it leads to a heist job in a grocery store with hilarious repercussions. But within the cast of talented personalities and the bright yet windswept area of Artesia (LA’s Little India) the heart of the ‘Four Samosas’ brings out a lot more in terms of connection with yourself and those around you from its plot.
To chat more about the film, friends and co-workers Ravi Kapoor and Venk Potula sat down for a chat.
Ravi, where did the idea for this film first come from?
Kapoor: I’d always wanted to do a lo-fi heist film without any guns, car chases or high-tech gadgets, all of that kind of stuff. Originally way back when I had a heist film that I had written—a heist on an ice cream van—I never actually made it in the end, but it was always in my head… and I wanted to come back to doing something like that. I [also] always knew I wanted to do something set in Artesia, which is LA’s Little India, so I thought, let me put the two of them together. And I started writing this.
And Venk, what drew you in to this project? You and Ravi have a friendship/mentorship relationship. Why does this film specifically work together?
Potula: I mean, it was hilarious—It was so funny and so zany. I like silliness, I love, you know, Rowan Atkinson and Jim Carey and that kind of physical comedy. I also don’t mind being a fool, I like to embrace that. And I just felt like there was something wonderfully foolish about the heist itself and the script and all the characters…and I’ve actually oddly enough played a lot of rappers. I’m from Atlanta, and I don’t think I could actually be a rapper, but I’ve been around it and that culture. I was a cast member on ‘Wild ‘n Out’ and worked with Nick Cannon. I always felt on the fringes, definitely an outsider in some ways in that world, but I wanted to kind of take that and make it my own. And I felt like this was an opportunity to do that.
Then, at the end of the day for me [the film is] about a guy trying to win his ex back and knowing that feeling of what it’s like to want to try and reclaim something that he feels is gone. I feel in some ways I’ve deeply resonated with that, even in terms of the kind of work I try to do as an artist.
It seems like you were the perfect fit for Vinny then.
Kapoor: [He was,] I definitely always tend to write in a sphere where my characters are a little bit more of the outsider, not necessarily the people that are led into the club. They’re the people that sit on the fringes of the club.
You mentioned Artesia. What inspired you to write about that patch of LA specifically?
Kapoor: I’m fascinated by any Little India anywhere, they’re all a little bit different. Whenever I go to a different country or a different city, I try and check out the Little India and just see what it’s like. And Artesia, which is LA’s Little India, is very specific in itself. It’s not like Jackson Heights in Queens, it’s not like Southall in London because it is so southern Californian in its feel with the heat and the sunlight.
Venk, you’ve spoken about getting into character for ‘Four Samosas’ by wearing clothes Vinny would, even making a playlist for him. Why was that important?
Potula: I think in order to really find who the person is outside of yourself, you need other tools and you need other pieces to kind of fill in the gaps. And so, I find that costume is one of the best ways for me to really lean into that, it changes how you feel. And there was something about the knockoff Air Jordan that felt very Vinny to me. [With the music playlist,] it brings in that external element. Then [when I] combine it with my own emotions and what I as Venk want bring to this, those two things together create something new and different.
Ravi, any hopes on what the audience takes away from the film overall?
Kapoor: I hope they get a sense of enjoyment, I hope they get a sense of warmth and I hope they feel kind of positive about the people around them… and that they connect into the commonalities of different communities. We often talk about this, even though this film is set in Little India and a South Asian American community, hopefully this is a film that’s universal [that] everybody can lock into. Whether it’s because you like a heist movie, or because you know what it’s like to lose the love of your life and wanting to get that person back again or a version of that person or a version of that life back again. So I just hope that people are able to look into the whole universality of the picture as well as the specific environment that it’s set in.
‘Four Samosas‘ is now showing in theaters and On Demand.