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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Malibuite Explores Indian-American Roots in Independent Film

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Actress Navi Rawat, who was born in Malibu, spent time in her home town to promote her new film, “The Playback Singer,” directed by Suju Vijayan, which recently debuted at Cinequest in San Jose and is just beginning to play on the festival circuit.
In the film, Rawat plays an immigration attorney whose estranged father, a former playback singer from India who was moderately famous for recording songs used in Bollywood musical numbers, who comes to stay with her and her American husband in the U.S.
“It’s about the three characters, how they struggle through a difficult relationship,” Rawat told the Malibu Surfside News.
“I was born in Malibu,” Rawat said. “Right here in Trancas Canyon.
Rawat is the daughter of Raja Ji Rawat  and Claudia Littmann, and the niece of Prem Rawat, the spiritual leader known as Maharaji.
“We moved to London and then the East Coast when I was little, but my uncle’s family, all of my cousins, still live here. My husband’s family lives in Malibu, too. We’re here often.”
Rawat is probably best known for her role as mathematical genius Amita Ramanujan on “Numb3rs,” but she has an extensive resume in television, including a recurring character in “The O.C.” She has also appeared in “24,” “Castle,” and “Burn Notice.”
  Rawat’s film credits include a starring role in the independent film “Ocean of Pearls,” and a supporting role in the  Oscar-winning film “The House of Sand and Fog.”  She is also the celebrity spokesperson for the Moën Company.
Rawat says she enjoys the challenges and rewards of TV and film work equally but that the opportunity to develop an arc over a longer period as a recurring character on TV was a special challenge that she particularly appreciated.
The character of Ramanujan on “Numb3rs was a joy for her.
“It was a pleasure to do a show that focuses on the importance of women studying math and science,” she said, adding that she was pleased to play a character that is a role model for young women. “I’m not good at math,” she confessed. “But I had an opportunity to work with educators all over the country.”
In “The Playback Artist,” Rawat plays Priya, a successful public interest attorney married to a man who left his job as a teacher and is uncertain what direction he wants his life to take.
Priya learns that her estranged father, who she hasn’t seen since she was a child, is traveling from India to the U.S. on a concert tour and wants to stay with them. Difficulties ensue.
“I am first generation American, my father is from India, my mother from German,” Rawat said. “I’ve played a multitude of ethnicities.”
Rawat said that “The Playback Singer” has provided her with an opportunity to connect with her Indian roots.
“I am close to my Dad,” Rawat said. “He’s a big fan of Bollywood, so that was really helpful.”
The past 12 months have been a period of momentous events for the actress. In addition to wrapping production on “The Playback Singer,” Rawat married Malibuite Rawley Nolte, the son of actor and longtime Malibu resident Nick Nolte. 
“We were married in Bora Bora, it was a quiet ceremony, and then we had a celebration at the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito,” Rawat said. It’s been an amazing year. I am very blessed.”

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