Cast and Crew Bios

Rob Tepper – The American

Rob Tepper fell in love with acting by chance, after a pre-season injury sidelined him for the entirety of his freshman season on Santa Clara University’s varsity soccer team. While recovering, Rob came across a class that intrigued him, Acting For Non-Majors, which introduced him to an unexpected new path—one to which he would then bring the same passion, hard work, and dedication to craft that had made him a star footballer. Following graduation as a Theatre major, Rob spent the next decade in Hollywood training under the tutelage of his mentor, Sal Romeo, while honing his skills on such diverse short-film projects as the science fiction thriller Infected and the family drama Jabez.

Rob has contributed his talents to several notable productions over the past half-decade. In 2006, he starred as a US. Army captain in the Iraq war short Clear Cut, Simple, which won the Special Jury Prize at the 2007 South By Southwest film festival, and was shortlisted for that year’s Academy Awards. In 2011, Rob played the co-lead in the independent feature Heaven Strewn, which Cinema Libre Studio recently picked up for domestic and international distribution. In 2012, Rob garnered the Best Performer award at the High Desert Shorts International Film Festival for his performance as Woody Guthrie in the biopic, Been Good To Know Yuh, which Rob also co-produced and co-wrote based on his own acclaimed one-mange stage play about Woody. Rob continues to tour the country performing on stage as Woody, and he most recently played a role in the Ben Affleck-directed film Argo, about the Iranian hostage crisis in the late 1970s.

As befitting the soccer player he once was, Rob knows how to blend his abilities into a winning team, and raise the level of all those around him. Of his first visit to India to star in Breakdown, he says, “”I truly did not know what to expect upon traveling to India, but one thing was for certain: I was excited. From our many conversations prior to visiting the subcontinent, my old friend Brayden effortlessly convinced me of his love for film making, and it was inspiring to see a what a confident, intelligent leader he had become since our time together in college.

“India, at times, was difficult for me, but one thing that consistently kept me going was my new film family. India kept me on my toes. India surprised me. India showed me love. India was a sensorial overload. India made me stronger than I was before. My new brothers and sisters remain in my heart and I hope to one day reunite with them to pick up where we left off. I hope that the relationship between the United States of America and India grows stronger with time, as I am confident both will benefit greatly from such a friendship; I certainly have.”

Amruta Sant – Janki

A well-known face in Marathi entertainment, Amruta Sant has been acting professionally all her adult life.  A native of Mumbai, she recently performed on stage in Makaranda Deshpande’s Time Boy at Prithvi Theatre, where she has been a fixture for the past decade while performing fluently in English, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati, and her mother tongue of Marathi.  During that time, Amruta has played the lead in such notable productions as Satyadev Dubey’s Khuda ke Liye Ye Mat Dekhna, Karla Singh’s Punch-A-Tantra, and Chandan Saniyal’s award-wining Sakharam Bainder, while also working with the renowned director Sunil Shanbag in his production of Walking to the Sun.  Amruta’s successes on stage led to her appointment in 2010 as a panel judge for THESPO, India’s largest theatre festival, which travels all over India screening plays to bring to Bombay.

Over the past several years, Amruta has played the supporting lead in several Marathi film and television productions, to include the 2008 film Aami Saatpute and 2007’s Kaalachakra, as well as the recurring lead role in the television serial Vachana Dile Tu Mala, which ran from 2009 through 2010.  Amruta’s most recent film work includes character roles in Hriday Shetty’s Chalis Churasi, and Kranti Kanade’s Gandhi of the Month, starring Harvey Keitel.

Amruta says she is attracted to playing strong female characters, and directors seem to notice.  Amruta notes that the role of Janki in Breakdown is similar in tone to her star turn as Laxmi in Sakharam Bainder, as both women refuse to accept second-class status in their respective worlds.  Yet the difference, she says, is that “Janki is much more focused on what she wants.  She’s beautiful and nice, but she has no affection for her husband because of what he makes her do.  Janki’s wants are exactly opposite from Laxmi’s.

“Women are lovely creatures,” Amruta continues.  “But if you tap the wrong vein—well, beware.  Women are capable of anything.”

Dhanendra Kawade – Rajesh

In the theatre world, there’s nothing Dhanendra Kawade has not done.  Over the past twenty-one years, he has executed set designs and schemed lighting operations for literally hundreds of different productions and festivals, at home in Bombay and across the whole of India, and to points as varied around the globe as Europe, Bhutan, Singapore, Dubai, and even the United States.  As a playwright, Dhanendra has scripted several notable dramas, to include Ran-2 Gi-2, and Khega Maun, and as a director he has helmed dozens of well-known plays, such as Kahaani Le Lo, Kai re…Gotya, Baramasi, and Manaskhor.  Since 2005, Dhanendra has also been the principal behind his own group, Third Bell Productions, which holds theater workshops across the subcontinent for children and adults alike.

As a performer, Dhanendra has acted in more than sixty different plays, presenting in English, Marathi, and in his native Hindi. Dhanendra has even danced in several Indian ballets over the past decade, appearing at festivals with the Rangashree Little Ballet Troupe.  A true renaissance man and lover of the arts, Dhanendra’s sensitive and polite nature would at first glance seem to be a poor fit with the character of Rajesh, the rough-edged pimp that controls the girls of the tamasha theatre in Breakdown.  Yet Dhanendra so came to embody the role that several locals on location—familiar with the seedy tamasha scene of the Pune street—remarked that he must be a native.

In truth, Dhanendra hails from Balaghat, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, and he earned his fluency with Marathi only after coming to Mumbai seven years ago and deciding to master it.  That same dedication can be seen in Dhanendra’s performance as Rajesh, a character he says he “enjoyed immensely, as he is completely opposite of me as Dhanendra.”  Dhanendra also states that for him, the best part of shooting Breakdown was acting opposite Rob Tepper, whom he credits with making him a better actor.  “I learned so much from Rob,” says Dhanendra. “All the time, he would surprise me with his performance.”

Brayden Yoder – Director

Brayden Yoder spent five years in Pune, Maharashtra at the Film & Television Institute of India, where he first learned to practice his craft in film direction. His first film, Stranger on a Train, gained acceptance to several festivals in India, Europe, and the United States, to include the River to River festival in Florence, Italy, the Oregon Independent Film Festival in Eugene, and the International Student Film Festival of Hollywood. Before moving to the subcontinent, Brayden lived in Sydney, Australia, where he studied screenwriting as part of a creative writing program at the University of Technology, Sydney. Born and raised in Hawai’i, Brayden decided to pursue a career in film after first serving as a U.S. Army officer in Germany and Iraq, experiences he credits with exposing him to the wider world.

Satchit Puranik – Editor

Satchit Puranik is a Mumbai-based film- and theatre-maker, whom for several years has been a regular player in Bombay’s extensive theatre scene, while amassing a myriad of impressive credits in India’s feature film industry.  As a film actor, Satchit most famously co-starred in the ensemble comedy The President is Coming, directed by Kunaal Roy Kapur and based on the play of the same name.  His other notable film credits include co-directing the Ram Gopal Varma Films production of Mr Ya Miss, as well as co-editing the recent indie feature The Ship of Theseus, directed by Anand Gandhi.  As a theatre actor, Satchit has performed in several prestigious festivals around the world, to include the U.K.’s Globe to Globe Shakespeare festival, Singapore’s Esplanade Theatre Festival, Pakistan’s Rafi Peer Theatre Festival, France’s Strasbourg Theatre Festival, and the Fast Forward Festival in Braunschweg, Germany. Since 2011, Satchit has enjoyed a continuing relationship with the Frascati Theatre company in Amsterdam, through his Dutch collaborator Marjolijn van Heemstra.  Together the duo have crafted two well-reviewed productions, Family ’81, and Mahabharata, a creative interpretation of India’s great founding epic, which they still perform on a regular basis across Europe. Along with his various other commitments, Satchit is presently directing the casting for Chaitanya Tamhane’s upcoming independent film, Court, which recently won the prestigious Hubert Bals fund award for screenplay and project development and will be shot in India in early 2013.

Zoheb Ahmed – Music Director

Growing up surrounded by both Hindustani and Western classical music, it’s little wonder that Zoheb Ahmed eventually found his way into the Indian film and television industry a music director. For the past six years, Zoheb has crafted countless advertising jingles, background scores, and full songs, which have earned him a reputation in Bollywood as a brilliant, disciplined, and professional composer. His most recent feature score can be found in Sharat Katariya’s 10ml Love, a 2012 Hindi comedy adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Zoheb is currently hard at work on two upcoming features to be released later this year.

Before turning to music directing, Zoheb made his name as a talented singer, first noticed in 2003 when he won the intercollegiate special competition of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, India’s version of American Idol. Zoheb’s success as a vocalist led him to travel the world for several years as the lead singer of Bharati, an international stage production that features Indian culture through music.

Zoheb gained his musical education in the Indian state of Chattisgarh, in his hometown city of Bhilai, where he learned Western classical music under his father, Iqbal Ahmed. Zoheb later came to Bombay, where he studied Hindustani classical music under the renowned Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan. Zoheb’s keen understanding of both Western and Indian tonality made him a perfect collaborator for Breakdown, as one who could help illustrate the “clash-of-cultures” theme through music and sound. Of working on Breakdown, Zoheb says that the project is “a journey to find the roots of Maharashtrian folk music” and “to discover the traditional and spiritual values held in the interior of the state.”