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Get A First Look At Wilbur Sargunaraj’s Debut Film This November

The YouTube star will reveal the trailer of his film ‘Simple Superstar’ and also perform tracks from the album by the same name in India this November

Megha Mahindru Oct 23, 2012
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Wilbur Sargunaraj

Last year, when YouTube sensation Wilbur Sargunaraj visited Mumbai to launch his second album, Simple Superstar and meet his fans, it seemed that he preferred to live up to his Southern caricature. Even though some fans might disagree, Sargunaraj in
his crisp white shirt, paired with Ray-Ban shades and a short black tie, is the desi equivalent of the How I Met Your Mother suit stickler Barney Stinson. In Sargunaraj’s vocab, “First Class” is as big a catchphrase as Stinson’s favorite superlative “Legend-ary”.

The Madurai-born, Canadian citizen is known for packing social commentary and cross-cultural comedy into three-minute videos. Sargunaraj went viral in 2010 with talks about “louwe” marriage and an instructional video on “How to use an Eastern Latrine”. Now, taking a leap from YouTube to the big screen, the virtual star is set to bring his brand of cheesy offline next month as he visits India to promote his debut film, Simple Superstar that is slated to release in 2013.

Sargunaraj’s concerns remain the same on 70mm. “One of the main questions of the film is ”˜What does it mean to be successful?’,” he says, adding that the film also returns to bring up his favorite topics including ”˜Arranged Vs love marriage.’ Shot in India and Dubai, the semi-autobiographical film also includes a score composed by Sargunaraj. He adds that the film is the combined effort of the “Wilbur World Wide community”. A musical of sorts, Simple Superstar features music by Welsh punk rockers KD Knows My Name, as well as artists from Chennai, Beirut, Calgary, Toronto and London. Last year, Sargunaraj decided to conduct online auditions to choose his cast and crew. It’s another matter that the cast ended up doubling as his crew.

Jennifer Neecia, a student from Stella Maris, Chennai and Naveen Richard from Christ College, Bengaluru bagged some of the key roles, while fans from UK, France and Holland have filmed some cameo appearances. About his upcoming film, Sargunaraj promises, “In the end the audience will come to know Wilbur as a man who makes the ordinary extraordinary.”

Although he has performed an open air concert for laborers at the Al Quoz camp (Dubai) as well as one at Ponnagam Destitute Centre (Tamil Nadu) while shooting the film, he tells us over a phone call from New Jersey that he’s eager to perform for a new audience in India as part of his five-city tour. Wilbur doesn’t take well to comparisons with Borat nor does he like being called the alter-ego of percussionist Paul Benjamin. Of course, he cannot stop himself from breaking into a song or two during the course of the interview: “I don’t have the Phd, M.B.A , B.E.d/I won’t have degree on my wedding invitation/ I don’t have the M.B.B.S , L.L.B, M.Sc/but I know that I’m you’re Simple Superstar.” Sargunaraj says he wrote these lines because “people put a lot of emphasis on education. If the good God wants me to married one day, it will be first class.” 

Poster of Simple Superstar

Tell us about your movie Simple Superstar?
It’s not Hollywood, Tollywood or Kollywood. This movie is definitely Wilburwood. This movie has been made by Wilbur fans. It’s for the fans, by the fans”¦ it’s almost a movement in itself. Many people are climbing up the ladder but I wanted to climb down the ladder. Since this movie has been made by the common people, I wanted to show people how to climb down the ladder and celebrate the common man. 

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Where has the film been shot? 
The movie has been shot in Tamil Nadu, Mumbai and Dubai and basically with fans from 20 different countries who sent their footage. I wanted to involve my fan base and incorporate social media. It’s the fun of living in the era of the Facebook and the Twitter.

You have also composed the music for it 
The soundtrack has lots of remixes and new music, but it will be a lot of fun. We have mixed Wilbur songs from the first and second albums and collaborated with artists from Calgary, Chennai and London.

Are you looking at an online release for the film too?
I want to take it to film festivals and then see if it gets accepted and start looking at its distribution as well.

What makes you a First Class artist? 
I think it’s about being confident in who I am, my identity and having a good understanding of my capabilities. You have to have a big bank account in your heart not outside. People must develop their inside rather than their outside.

And that’s what made you a YouTube star. Can you give us a crash course in being one?
If you want to be called sensation, you have to be loving what you are doing. I never made music to become famous, but to share all this love for art. You should keep that in mind in whatever you are doing, whatever your job.

What software do you use to edit your videos?
I cut my videos myself on Final Cut. Oh no, I’m revealing my secret. Now people will be making videos like me.

Your subjects of interest are quite varied”” Love Marriage, Chicken 65 and Indian loos”¦  What do you turn to for inspiration? 
I just don’t think. I just do it. One day I’ll wake up and say, “Today I’ll make a video on how to use a Japanese toilet.” Oh madam, now you’ve given me an idea! For me, it’s education. I’m a performer who has made it [the video] for fun and people are being educated, so it’s great! The movie is all to show why I am who I am.

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How was it being a Tamilian in Japan?
I consider myself a global citizen, not a Tamilian or an Indian. I love to go to new places and see new cultures and get people to teach me so I can grow. People are closed when they think their culture is the best culture. We should not be prideful in our own identity. I told myself I have to eat with chopsticks here, not hands just because I’m an Indian. You have to be proud of where you come from, but you have to look forward to more.

You upset many Ranjikanth fans by calling yourself Simple Superstar. What would you ask Rajni if you met him?
I don’t know, honestly. I would probably say “Vanakkam” [hello in Tamil] and have a normal conservation with him. I don’t look at titles 
of big stars because those people want to feel normal. For me, people are people.

You taught Americans to do bhangra…what is your favorite Indian dance form? 
It is the Tamil folk form of tappan koothu. Other than that I like salsa, meringue and the beat of the bhangra.

You often refer to yourself in third person. Will you ever reveal the real Wilbur?
That’s like asking a rockstar, “Do you perform all the time?” It’s like asking Michael Jackson, “Are you MJ?” Yes I’m Wilbur, I eat dosa and idli at home. I’m a normal person. 

What do you think of RHCP?
I don’t listen to them. Chilies are meant to be eaten, madam, and pepper is meant to be in sambhar. Yes, chilies and peppers are first class!

Finally, tell us how many black ties do you own?
There’s only one that I have used. I have a second one I got from my uncle but it’s reserved for special occasions.

And white shirts?
Ummm, I have five, madam. But I feel the character is more important than one’s appearance. For me, I put on the same thing. It takes me one minute and it’s finished. What matters is the character inside the heart, not what you are wearing.

What can we expect from your shows in India?
I have no idea how many people will be there. Whether it’s five or 500 or 5,000, I’ll give the same first class performance and a wonderful time for them. People in India will be the ones to see my film’s trailer first because I want to launch it at the concert. That’s the whole reason I haven’t leaked videos online.

Wilbur Sargunaraj Tour Dates: 

November 15th - IBar, Mumbai

November 17th- Opus, Bengaluru 

November 18th – Rain Club, Hyderabad 

November 24th – High Spirits, Pune

For other details, visit Culture Shoq here 

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