Indian-American director Ajay Sarpeshkar’s debut movie Mandala: The UFO Incident is slated for release in the U.S. on May 19. The movie is a labour of love for the engineering graduate turned filmmaker who actively raised funds for his sci-fi creation, all while single-handedly writing the screenplay, directing, and producing the film.
The UFO Incident is the first instalment of the Mandala trilogy. The premise of the two-hour film revolves around the male protagonist named Arjun who is looking for his girlfriend, a rocket scientist. Arjun believes that his girlfriend was kidnapped by a UFO and turns to a retired investigative journalist for help to solve the mystery and find his lover.
Sarpeshkar, who shuttles between Houston and Bengaluru, India, aims to highlight the importance of culture and heritage conservation with this movie. “It highlights how our cultural roots and traditions can provide a solid foundation as we venture into the unknown realms of space, providing us with a sense of identity and belonging,” as per his website.
Despite Covid-19 being a major hiccup, the director and multiple global teams from Southeast Asia, the U.S., India, and Europe worked together to bring the movie which is replete with visual effects to life. Sarpeshkar was a technical expert for a long time before, during, and after his graduation. While filmmaking was never plan A, the University of Arizona and Bangalore University alum pursued it alongside photography to satisfy his creative side, the culmination of which is the Mandala trilogy.
Sarpeshkar’s website says the movie is designed in a way to inspire curious minds towards science and technology, and space exploration, as well as to spark imagination. The movie, deemed fit for audiences of all ages, will release in select theatres across 16 U.S. cities including Dallas, Seattle, Albany, and Tampa.
The cast features Prakash Belawadi, last seen in the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pathaan. Belawadi is also listed as a writer in the film credits. Actors Anant Nag, Kiran Srinivas, Sharmiela Mandre, and Samyukta Hornad also feature in the cast.