Devi, Utpal Biography

biography of Devi, Utpal

Sandi Higgins
17 March 1981, USA
5' 7"
Her childhood dream as an Irish-American kid growing up in the New Jersey suburbs was to become an Italian movie star. Sophia Loren, Anna Magnani, Giulietta Masina, Marcello Mastroianni, Federico Fellini... they struck her as ambassadors of a place that seemed more soulful, more daring, more in-love, and as a young woman Sandi Higgins wanted to go there. There are many roads to Rome, so to speak, and Higgins found her path to the Movies through Performance, Photography, Writing and Music. She made her break into the film industry while she was an exchange student in France. Higgins was taking philosophy classes in Paris when NYU connected her with an internship at an independent film company associated with Wild Bunch distributors. There she assisted producers 'Rita Dagher' (qv) and 'Fernando Sulichin' (qv) on a slate of international co-productions, including controversial documentaries by American director 'Oliver Stone (I)' (qv) and independent films like _Love Liza (2002)_ (qv) and _Spun (2002)_ (qv). Before graduating from New York University, Higgins took an extended leave of absence from school to stay in Europe. During this time she studied classical theater in France and Commedia dell'arte in Italy. She became proficient in French and Italian. She also fell in love and wrote a lot. Much of her writing from this period was published in her poetry book, Tramping The Water Street Between 2 Cities (2002). Writer and director 'Anthony Minghella' (qv) read her book after they met on set of _The Interpreter (2005)_ (qv) and suggested she turn some of her poetry into songs. After her job on the very successful Canadian documentary _The Corporation (2003)_ (qv), Higgins's next big break came out of the blue. _The Interpreter (2005)_ (qv) was the first Hollywood film to shoot on set inside the United Nations and it was also set inside a model of Higgins's apartment, which served as the home for the title role played by 'Nicole Kidman' (qv) under surveillance by the character played by 'Sean Penn (I)' (qv). Higgins met the heads of the film when they came to her apartment during the pre-production location scout and she seized the meeting to ask for work and get on board. Working on the camera crew for director of photography 'Darius Khondji' (qv) and landmark American director 'Sydney Pollack' (qv) was an amazing opportunity that also marked a very challenging time. Months before _The Interpreter (2005)_ (qv) began shooting, Higgins's best friend from university, Kemdi Amadiume, a record-breaking athlete and rising musician, suffered a rare attack of multiple sclerosis that rendered her blind and paralyzed and had asked Higgins to record her fight for recovery. Throughout the production of The Interpreter, Higgins was stretched between Hollywood sets and hospital rooms, the United Nations and nursing homes. After two brave years battling for rehabilitation and health care, her best friend passed away in the hospital. She had held up the camera to document the battle; after her friend's death she felt like she would never hold a camera again. Heartbroken and grieving the adjacent losses of several loved-ones, she spiraled into some major soul searching. Gradually, Higgins got tuned in to the positive vibes of Indian music and it transformed her life like nothing before. Her appreciation and study of Indian music brought her deeper into Indian culture and steered her professionally into the desi film, media, and art community of New York. Initially, she connected with Indian music through kirtan, bhangra dancing, qawwali, film songs, and ultimately, the classical tradition of Raag and Taal. She became magnetized by the language and rhythms of Indian percussion and began studying tabla and voice, learning in the traditional way to approach music as a practice for the soul, as important as meditation for the mind and exercise for the body. Higgins then traveled through India, Europe and the USA to attend major Indian music festivals where she interviewed the artists and musical representatives to learn more about the tradition of Raag and Taal, a very rich and complex oral heritage that reaches back thousands of years. Her personal journey and extensive research culminate in her documentary, Ten Beats in Jhaptal (working title 2010). From her experiences and exposure working in the USA, India, and Europe, Higgins created her own company, E 10 ST Productions, to build projects that energize the stage, page, and screen through bridges of multicultural creativity.
E 10 ST Productions © 2010

-   Acting is her first love though she became very interested in Photography in her teens and has been developing on both sides of the camera ever since.

-   Her east village apartment in New York City appears in _The Interpreter (2005)_ (qv) as the apartment of the lead character played by Nicole Kidman. It was during the early location scout of her apartment that she met the production and talked with the Cinematographer about her photography and asked for a chance to work on the film.

-   She's always asked where she's from because of her unique accent.

-   Speaks French and Italian; she's currently learning Hindi.

-   She worked on organic farms in the north and south of France.

-   She studies voice, tabla, and dance and is very passionate about Indian Music (classical, devotional, and folk).

-   She has been a film presenter and French interpreter for the Tribeca Film Festival since 2005.

-   Prior to attending New York University to study Film, she considered entering a monastery to study Buddhism and made a pilgrimage to Tibet before her last year of high school, trekking through the Nepal Himalayas with her sister and a Sherpa.

-   Her older sister Lori is a painter and artist's rep who, as co-founder of Higgins Harte International Galleries, represents the fine art of great talents, such as legendary actors Anthony Quinn and Tony Curtis.

-   Attended Northern Valley Regional Highschool in Old Tappan, New Jersey where she was at the same time president of the student council, co-captain of the debate team, co-editor of the literary magazine, assistant director for the all-school musicals, and recipient of their Outstanding Filmmaker award.

-   On the last day of filming _The Interpreter (2005)_ (qv) at the United Nations she played the part of a French Delegate in the General Assembly and can be seen for a split second in the film's alternate ending on the DVD.

-   She auditioned for the famous Scuola di Teatro del Piccolo Teatro in Milan in 2005, performing an excerpt she selected from Dario Fo's comedic monologue "La Mamma Fricchettona". Director Luca Ronconi complimented her performance in Italian but did not accept her into the school. Instead, she returned to New York City and developed her audition piece, along with 2 other monologues by Dario Fo and Franca Rame, into her first one-woman show "La Fricchettona" off-off Broadway 2006 (reviewed with much acclaim in the Italian-American journal 'America Oggi').

-   Is of Irish-Scandinavian descent.

-   Vegetarian since age ten.

-   Writer - "Tramping The Water Street Between 2 Cities" a book of original poetry (limited edition privately published in 2002 Paris, France)

-   Production Designer - "Go Fida" Fiesta car commercial for Ford Motors India; Directed by Kunal Kapoor; Featuring Abhishek Bachchan (filmed in NYC 2005)

-   Actress - "Earth Signs" a solo performance of poetry by Forough Farrokhzad, part of the Theaterlab show: Subliminal Reports (Off-off Broadway NYC 2006)

-   Actress - "La Fricchettona" a one-woman show of 3 monologues by Dario Fo and Franca Rame: A Mother (Una Madre), The Rape (Lo Stupro), and an excerpt from La Mamma Fricchettona. Performed in English & Italian by Sandi Higgins; Directed by Orietta Crispino; Translated by Ron Jenkins and Sandi Higgins; Presented by Theaterlab and E 10 ST Productions (Off-off Broadway NYC 2006)

-   French Interpreter - Interpreting for Isabelle Caro on CBS Paramount's Entertainment Tonight/The Insider edition of "The Anorexic Actress: an exclusive interview with Isabelle Caro" (2007)

-   Videographer - Zee TV, Showbiz India (2007-2008)

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