DETROIT (Diya TV) — When Nipa Shah came to America from India following an arranged marriage at age 21, she never pictured her future 30 years later as an actress and sex trafficking activist.
Her first film, “Paid in Full,” was created in an effort to give her adult daughter, Nikki Shah, a job, she said. Nikki had been tirelessly looking for work in the film industry for a decade in Michigan and New York.
“She wasn’t getting good roles,” said Shah of her daughter. “Most Hollywood films won’t have any major roles for non-Hollywood people. All of the roles are puny, or crappy, or they’re roles that are pretty much degrading and exploiting women. We were 110 percent behind our daughter wanting to get into films, but we didn’t want her to take any roles that exploited her.”
“We were in New York on the subway and I asked her, ‘Do you really want to do this?’ ” said Shah. “And I said OK then, I’ll make a movie for you. Sometimes you say these things and the universe makes it happen.”
Operating as the film’s executive producer, Shah cast her daughter as the lead role of Rani Chopra, a vengeful woman looking to avenge the life of her sister, who was forced into sex trafficking and killed in the process. Her son, Jay Shah, was also listed as a production assistant for the film.
The film also stars Jonathan Bennett, the actor known for playing Lindsay Lohan’s love interest in the film “Mean Girls.” James Russo and singer Ginuwine also starred in the film. “Paid in Full” was directed by Lance Kawas and written by Marc Prey. In all, the film carried a 40-person crew.
Next week, Shah’s film will premiere at a local cinema in Farmington Hills, MI. She rented the theatre for a sold-out red carpet premiere, and the crime drama will continue to be shown at the theatre for a one-week run. Shah is also working on distribution, hoping to promote it through multiple platforms such as Amazon, Hulu and other video-on-demand outlets.
“I spent so much more money than originally planned … my husband calls it an expensive learning experience,” said Shah.
The underlying theme of the film, as mentioned previously, is sex trafficking, “a story that needs to be told,” she said.
“When we talk about sex trafficking, we think India, Nepal, eastern Europe, but this is domestic sex trafficking where these girls have fallen into a situation and they’re imprisoned by these pimps. It’s not just runaway girls … these girls can come from affluent families.”