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York grad's first movie premieres at TIFF

York grad's first movie premieres at TIFF

Vinay Virmani [BA Hons. ’08] is no stranger to waiting in TIFF’s notoriously long lineups, but this year the Brampton boy will be walking right up the red carpet, reported Now Magazine Sept. 10. 

“It’s a dream come true,” says Virmani, the writer and star of the new Masala-flavoured hockey movie Breakaway, which gets its world premiere tonight [Sept. 10] at 9pm at the Elgin. 

Virmani plays Rajveer Singh, a Sikh-Canadian with a slight identity crisis who defies both his father’s traditional Indian rules and hockey norms by forming his own South Asian team. “It’s about our values as Canadians,” boasts Virmani, who not too long ago was an actor struggling for work. 

After graduating from York University with a bachelor’s degree in business & society, Virmani took lessons at the Lee Strasberg Institute of Theatre and Film in New York City. Returning to Toronto, he found there weren’t too many roles waiting for him. “I was auditioning and reading for scripts and nothing was connecting to me.” 

That’s when he decided to create his own opportunity by pulling a Matt Damon (or a Ben Affleck, take your pick). Like the Good Will Hunting scribes, Virmani wrote his own role by conceiving his own movie. For inspiration, Virmani drew on his life – from his love of hockey to the generational, cultural and identity issues that trouble most young South Asian Canadians.

Fortunately, getting the movie made wasn’t too difficult for Virmani, who practically grew up in the film industry. Not only is his father, Ajay Virmani, a producer on Deepa Mehta’s Bollywood/Hollywood and Water, but Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar is a close family friend. “Akshay is like my older brother,” Virmani says. “He is somebody that I have grown up with.” 

With his father, Kumar and even comedian Russell Peters (another family friend) all on board as producers, Virmani had no trouble populating his movie with actors like Rob Lowe and Camilla Belle (whom the writer conveniently cast as his romantic interest) and musicians like Drake and Ludacris. That’s some major company for Virmani’s first stroll down the red carpet.  

And if Breakaway does well, it certainly won’t be his last.  

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.