Little Italy is a romantic comedy movie about two groups having a pizzeria rivalry. Vas Saranga plays Jogi who is an exchange student from India, clueless and enthusiastic. Saranga’s character heavily looks up to the main character Leo played by Hayden Christensen. Emma Roberts also plays in this romantic comedy. Saranga reminisces about the preparations for this film and talks about his personal experience with acting.
ATM: How has practicing for Little Italy transformed you as an actor?
VS: It has put me back in touch with my comedy roots. I have done a lot more drama in the recent years than comedy. I started doing sketch comedy. This was always my first love. I never got the opportunity over the time in my career to do comedy.
ATM: What is your favorite pizza to eat?
VS: I am into vegan pizzas. They have become more common. I love the Mediterranean style vegan pizza. This is made very salty, less olives, broccoli, onions, and really heavy on the vegetables. I like thin crust and edgy pizzas.
ATM: Explain how people can learn something out of life from Jogi.
VS: They receive big laughs from the antics my character gives. There is a lot of heart in this comedy. I add an extra comedic relief on top of the already expected comedy. My character is really out there and crazy. I like to see my character as punctuating these scenes.
ATM: What does being an actor mean to you?
VS: To me, an actor is a storyteller. The writer puts the story on paper from their mind. The producer oversees the entire project and works with all the departments. The director is the lens and it is the movie that is playing in their minds. The actors are the physical connection to the audience. No one sees the director or producers working hard behind the camera. The actors provide their life, body, and life experience. Using myself to tell a story that I believe in.
ATM: Why do you think there was a cultural difference in entertainment compared to Canada’s film industry? Express the difference in how you felt while coming over to the United States as a Canadian born actor.
VS: It is so much bigger in the United States. Canada has their homegrown production. We have our own style to storytelling. It is very similar to American’s style, but other parts such Hollywood, New York, and Atlanta have a really big film structure. Hollywood is larger than life when you are a Canadian. Working on American productions that were shot in Canada gave me that early pace of the American entertainment industry.
ATM: From your very first audition for a professional acting role, did you ever think the mindset of an actor would keep growing inside of you?
VS: I really had the hope. I maintained focus in building my career in the trajectory that it has gone. Once you get on your first television or film set and it was thrown into things, you hit the ground running. You have to focus on that project at once. You have to experience tunnel vision. Between projects, you tend to dream more about what is next. 95% of auditioning is what working as an actor is all about. It is about working on these auditions and showing directors and producers what you have to offer. It has been a slow and steady journey. If you set yourself too much into the future, then you lose sight of where you are. Where you are right now is the most interesting thing happening.
ATM: Express what the conversation between you and a real-life Jogi would have?
VS: I would say set your goals higher than just delivering pizzas. In this film, you will see that making pizzas is very artistic. There are skills to have unique and delicious pizzas. Meeting Jogi I would say keep working your way up the ranks until you own the place.
ATM: Explain the narrative you receive from your family about your acting career.
VS: I have a younger brother that acts as well. So, we have two actors in the family. My sister is a doctor. My family is east Indian. Traditionally, their values were a little in the direction of academics. They have been supportive and watch all my stuff.
ATM: When did film become your nonhuman true love?
VS: As a young child. From watching E.T., Jurassic Park, The Godfather, and The Matrix. I had never thought a movie could do things like The Matrix. I was instantly interested in life in working in this industry.
ATM: Aside from acting, what makes you an animal lover? Did you in fact grow up with a pet?
VS: I did not grow up with them. In the last ten years. My wife was the animal lover growing up and got into loving them.
ATM: Do you ever think about how animals perceive this world?
VS: All the time. I always wonder what this world looks like from their point of view. They are so low to the ground and has a perspective of looking up at us. Do you they see us as their owners, friends, or parents, or masters? It is fascinating to think about it. The feeling they give humans is very interesting to me.
ATM: They think we are giants.
VS & ATM: (Laughs).
VS: I would be scared being their size. I would probably run away from everyone.
ATM: Through all your previous acting jobs on shows such as ‘Handmaid’s Tale,” “Orphan Black,” “Salvation,” “The Girlfriend Experience” and “Flashpoint,” how did this shape you as an actor?
VS: I am versatile and work in both comedy and drama. I have worked in other genres such as horror and science fiction. I am a lover of films. I want my personality to come put on screen. I want to see that I connect well with the audience.
Saranga plays alongside Emma Roberts and Hayden Christensen in Little Italy. His character is a funny and young character that only wants to deliver pizzas. Saranga shows us that there is more to life than just making pizzas. Little Italy hits the American theaters in September 21, 2018.