Lots of Hollywood types see coming from Chicago as a plus. Hinsdale native Jay Chandrasekhar does too, but not for the usual reasons.
"The thing about people from Chicago and the Northwest suburbs is that they're very cocky. I think that serves us well in the show business world."
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Tinkering with toneBorn Jayanth Jambulingam Chandrasekhar, former Hinsdale resident Jay Chandrasekhar knows how to direct a Hollywood comedy. Take his latest R-rated movie "The Babymakers," now in theaters. The key: It's all about maintaining a comic tone.
"This movie, it hits the tone I wanted it to," he said. "I think it's important to make sure all the jokes fit into the same movie. So, the most serious moments have to fit in with the craziest moments. If something's too goofy, you cut it out. If something is too serious, you cut it out."
Chandrasekhar admitted that people will either like his movie or not. "But I really like it!" he said.
"A lot of people come from small towns, and they come here wondering 'Can I really make it in Hollywood?' When I went to L.A., I knew I was going to make it. There's no doubt about it. Why? Because I'm from Chicago!"
If you've seen the new comedy "The Babymakers," you've seen Chandrasekhar's latest movie, about a couple who can't conceive, and the husband falls back on desperate measures by stealing a donation he'd once made to a sperm bank. It's not autobiographical, in case you wondered.
Long before Chandrasekhar became a founding member of the comedy troupe Broken Lizard and began directing and producing movies such as "Super Troopers," "Club Dread" and "Beerfest," he lived in Hinsdale where his parents, both physicians from India, still reside.
Chandrasekhar, now 44, was born at the old Cook County Hospital, where both Mom and Dad worked on staff. The future filmmaker spent some time in Oak Park before moving to Hinsdale. He graduated from the Lake Forest Academy before heading off to Colgate University in upstate New York. He also spent one semester at Chicago's Loyola University before graduating from Colgate with a major in European history and a minor in philosophy.
Uh, European history? Seriously?
"History is ultimately storytelling," Chandrasekhar said. "I think the more stories you write in life -- and I've written a lot of screenplays, a lot of short stories -- you realize it's your interpretation of events that people read, and they absorb that."
And how does philosophy help a comedian and filmmaker?
"Philosophy teaches you to think big," Chandrasekhar said. "Is this ('Babymakers') just some random movie, or is it a movie about our need to make babies? Or using technology to make babies? You know? The kind of entertainment that works best is in accord with society, right? You kind of have to think about where the country is. The country right now is sort of in a place of political fighting and conflict. When we look back on these days and see the films and books that come out of it, that will be reflected in them."
Let's go back to what growing up in the Chicago area can do for a promising filmmaker.
"To me, this is the best place to live in the world and it's too bad for people who can't live here," Chandrasekhar said. "I think people in Texas have a similar attitude. They're like, why would you live anywhere but Texas? you know?"
Yes, we know. But what's the difference between Chicagoans and, say, people from Los Angeles? "If you hang around people from L.A. they're like used to having their city being maligned. Oh, it's so superficial! People have fake boobs! Nobody's honest! None of that is actually true in L.A. But if you talk to people from L.A., they're like, 'Yeah, yeah, that's true.'
"If you said that to people from Chicago, they'd take your head off! And think you were crazy for even saying that. You know what I mean?"
-- Dann Gire