Profile - Tarsem Singh

Tarsem Singh

Name Tarsem Singh

Born 6 May 1961

Background Against the wishes of his pilot father, who wanted him to attend Harvard Business School, Singh made his way instead to Los Angeles and won a scholarship to the Art Center College of Design. After graduating he found work as a commercial and video director and travelled extensively.

What’s he up to now? After making his mark with the horror-fantasy The Cell he has completed his second feature The Fall which he says is based loosely on a Bulgarian film he saw almost 23 years ago. He was fascinated with the idea that ‘when you tell a story to somebody, the story you tell, the story that they hear and the story that they remember in 20 years are three different versions. In the 20 years you have put in experiences that were never in the film. You’ve given it a certain benefit of the doubt that never existed.’

What he says about the genesis of the film ‘Basically The Fall is two movies in one. The main story is about Alexandria, a young Rumanian girl (Cantinca Untaru) living and working with her family in the orange groves of 1915 Los Angeles. She has fallen and broken her collarbone and while convalescing in hospital meets Roy (played by Lee Pace), a Hollywood stuntman who had a similar accident and now cannot walk. Roy begins to tell her an epic tale of heroes, villains, action and adventure. The second part of the film gives Alexandria’s view of this fantastical world, populated by people in the hospital who become characters in her story.’

Interesting fact Although he grew up on the output of the prolific Indian film industry, he decided to study film in the States. ‘I could relate to those Bollywood films when I was ten or 12 but after that I did not find them interesting which is why I had to leave. Film school gave me everything, and I did not want to leave. I would go back there in a heart beat – I just absolutely loved and adored it.’

The Fall, Filmhouse, Edinburgh Fri 31 Oct.

The Fall

  • 4 stars
  • 2006
  • India / US / UK
  • 1h 57min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Tarsem Singh
  • Written by: Tarsem Singh, Dan Gilroy, Nico Soultanakis
  • Cast: Lee Pace, Catinca Untaru, Justine Waddell

A little girl (Untaru) meets a paralysed stuntman in hospital (Pace) and the patient proceeds to relate a colourful tale, all influenced by his state of mind. As time goes by the boundaries between fiction and reality blur rather alarmingly. An extravagant, self-indulgent, amazing, eye-catching and confounding work.