Action Star Amar Sidhu

A full time, board-certified, dermatological surgeon, Dr. Amar Sidhu runs what he calls "a very busy practice,” specializing in procedures such as skin cancer surgeries. Not content with relaxing on the golf course amid the other successful M.D.'s though, instead Dr. Sidhu spends his spare time on the silver screen as a debonair action hero, as well as behind the scenes running his production company Ancient Arrow Films.

Sidhu takes moonlighting as a movie star very seriously and says that it's simply a matter of balance to keep both careers thriving. "Up until now, I've either been in undergrad or grad school," he explains. "Now that I have a practice of my own, I've been able to find the time to do something else I really love. These are my two great passions in life. My goal is to be a caring and competent physician and surgeon, honor the Hippocratic Oath I've taken. But acting is something I'm also very committed to."

The initial challenge wasn't just the task of juggling the two pursuits, but the immense time that cultivating a budding acting career alone requires. "At first, I knew it'd be difficult. I've seen other professionals do it, but they do it within their field. I have to take care of my practice but also develop scripts, for example. As a full-time professional, I can't go the normal route of actors in L.A.: live on the West Side, hang out, go to the right parties, go to a million auditions, and hope to get a part once in a blue moon."

Not one to be distracted by doubt, though, Sidhu realized that instead of searching for opportunities as an actor, he'd create them as a producer. "I had to choose an alternate path for myself; the only way I was going to get into front of that camera was to produce myself. I know it's very competitive there are thousands of talented people looking for work. I knew I wouldn't be able to go traditional routes, so I created one."

The modest doctor keeps his day job under wraps on set, but it raises questions when it's revealed. "When I got my crews together for Aakhari Decision or The Black Russian, no one knew I was a doctor. Being a physician is not relevant, so I try not to bring it up. As soon as people bring it up, they want to know "why acting?” I had a different calling; 'You may have been doing Nickelodeon but I was studying anatomy.' I definitely downplay it."

An admitted cinephile, Sidhu derived his devotion to film from Hollywood and abroad. "Being brought up in the U.S., you're exposed to all kinds of entertainment, especially mainstream Hollywood stuff. But through my folks I was exposed to Bollywood; they're designed for a completely different culture and I have a great appreciation for their entertainment value." His long-time aspirations were realized when he had the opportunity to shoot in both of those major film capitals for his first feature.



  "It started with a film called Aakhari Decision, which is a film we shot here in L.A. and in Bombay, India. I had come up with a concept and gotten together with a screenwriter, produced and acted in it myself. It was shot in India more just to try to find places to shoot where we had some connections, where we could actually get bargains or a deal, and be in a comfortable setting. But if I had to do that film over again, I'd shoot it in English because the story line was very western.""

He describes his new film, The Black Russian, as "very L.A." Inspired by a firsthand experience with India's robust drug trade, Sidhu used his new film to bring light to the problem. "We had finished Aakhari Decision, and I was visiting north of India where the movie was still playing. It was several months after the release, but it was a cult favorite in that region because of the dialect and story line. As we were traveling, my driver kept pulling over. He was obtaining opiates, and he was completely high the whole journey. There is a striking drug problem in the north of India, which is linked to Pakistan and Afghanistan. When we had to decide what the next story was for us and what kind of story we wanted to tell, it was how to bring attention to that issue without doing a documentary. We came up with a script that takes us through parts of this world and expose some of what's happening." He says the film, shot in L.A., India, and Pakistan, required both "a lot of army personnel, and a lot of permits".  His next piece may need even more heat, though less of the weapon variety and more warming apparatuses.

Tentatively called "A Winter's Dream", Sidhu's new futuristic sci-fi action film is projected to start shooting in Alaska in April. He's decided that agile action genre works best for what he wants to accomplish, "I'm going to stick with action, it can reach the broadest audience on a small budget. I find it fun to watch, and I try to do things that I enjoy."

"When you're doing low budget you're constantly worrying about the dollar amount, you can come up with these grand ideas but you want to work with what you have and still be able to tell a good story that audiences find compelling." He's learning though, how to make those stories come to life and keep furthering his ambitions. "You tend to get more efficient as time goes on, more economic with shooting, your sensibility, your appreciation of the script. It evolves."  With two films completed and one in pre production, it’s only a matter of time before Hollywood comes calling.  Learn more at: http://theblackrussianfilm.com

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