Korla Pandit was a great entertainer. When he came on the screen you were glued to his sparkling magnetic eyes and Hammond B3 organ and Steinway grand piano playing. Korla has an amazing American story which gives you a small glance on what show business really means. And that is, the show must go on. How will you write your story? Read on in an exclusive interview with Directors John Turner & Eric Christensen.
Q: How did you decide on telling the story of Korla?
A: Korla Pandit had a live program on KGO TV in San Francisco in 1964. In 1990, that station, where producer Eric Christensen and I worked in the news department, had an anniversary show. Someone found Korla living in the bay area and he agreed to appear on the show. That same year I did a piece on him for the news. I spent a pleasant afternoon with him and stayed in contact with him till his death in 1998. In 2001 L.A Magazine writer R.J. Smith did a long format piece on the career of Mr. Pandit in which he revealed some interesting secrets that Mr. Pandit held until his death. Eric and I found these aspect of Mr. Pandit’s life to be very intriguing. It wasn’t until both of us retired from work that we decided to tell Korla’s story in a documentary format.
Q: How much research was involved in doing the film? Did you travel to different areas for the project?
A: Research was paramount to telling Korla’s full story. We were fortunate that R. J. Smith did the major legwork for his article. We interviewed him on camera extensively about the information he had gathered and what he had learned from the process. We also had access to a biographical sketch/timeline that was put together by one of Korla’s biggest fans. Much of that information is now in the Korla Pandit archives, which is located in the Netherlands and online. One of his distant relatives also shared with us his family tree. Because of our very limited budget, we only traveled from our base in San Francisco to Los Angeles to collet interviews. Fortunately because of rapidly evolving technology, we were able to SKYPE interviews from Australia, the Netherlands and Palm Springs.
Q: Korla Pandit was a great showmen, What was your favorite part of the movie?
A: As shown in the film, Korla was a more than adequate showman as he theatrically pounded his Hammond B3 organ while casting hypnotic gazes directly into the TV camera. What he was best know for was his talent to play the organ and the piano simultaneously. One of my favorite clips in the film is him wailing away on the organ, wearing a turban and a suit. Korla was always known as a sharp dresser.
Q: Do either of you have a background in music?
A: I have done a documentary on the blues musicians of Oakland California and Eric has a long association with the music industry. He also has a collection of over 10,000 vinyl record albums and has done a documentary on record album art called Cover Story, Record Album Art.
Q: Without giving away to much of the story, What do you want the audience to know about Korla?
A: We want the audience to learn of Korla’s struggles and what he did to be able to succeed in his chosen field. It’s a classic American success story, with a heart wrenching twist.
Q:What project are you working on next?
A: At this time Eric and I are spending our time spreading the word about the movie. It has already been shown on 3 continents. For more information about screenings,
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/korlathemovie?fref=ts
Photo’s courtesy of John Turner for Korla the movie.
The show must go on….#beachiebeautyapproved