The Crew of The Winter of Love

I am indebted by the incredible dedication that my producer Manjeet Singh showed whilst putting the film together. She managed to pull the production together and made the shoot possible against all odds. We were all unaware of the gravity of her condition and saw Manjeet continuing to work on the production despite having suffered a car accident. She is still recovering from the accidents and is as excited as I am to see the release of the DVD.

It would not have been possible to get the production off the ground had I not met with Ruhul Amin, a fellow film maker based in East London, who introduced me to Koutaiba Al-Janabi and recommended him as my Director of Photography.

Koutabia was very keen to work on 35mm and liked the idea of the project to be shot entirely on location, with no set building. His recent work had been on low budget films so he understood the need to be precise and hit the mark immediately. Of course his creative abilities played an overwhelming part in him coming on to the project.

Koutaiba introduced me to his ‘crew’ who worked with him as a complete unit. A mixture of experienced and in-experienced individuals meant energy and a vibrancy that was needed when working on the edge – which this project was.

The rest of the team included Assistant Director, Matthew Hope who ended up writing an aspect of the script with me; Focus Puller Thomas Theakstone, Gaffer Paul DeFriepas, Sparks Taimur Shuja Akhtar and Yves S Barre, and the soul of the party Clapper Loader Edward Ware made the shoot endurable and memorable. Other key members of the crew who worked relentlessly and with great passion included the sound department headed by Daniel Rosen along side Boom Operator Mark Hargreaves.

I was able to source other much needed individuals to cover the various departments that were as yet not confirmed. Continuity by Zac Rashid, Wardrobe by Abi Ward, assisted by Surina Mangat and Harjit Jatana, Makeup by Lucy Lebow and the Art department headed by the Art Director Amarjeet Kaur Nandhra, assisted by Dandeep Wariabharaj and finally the Props department managed by Mamta Anand meant that we could finally get the show on the road.

Using the Avid facilities provided by Andy Isaacs at a very reasonable rate, Tanya Trohoulia and I set about editing the film.

Post production crew included the talented Julian MacDonald who created the Sound Design and mix and of course the original sound track was created and composed by the legendary Kuljit Bhamra.

When we ran out of money and couldn’t afford the catering by Omi’s restaurant, we had to resort to asking the family. And of course various cooks contributed to the production from Manjeet’s mum through to my sister, sometimes Harjit and at times I cooked for the crew.

I have a great affection for my crew and individuals who worked to make The Winter of Love possible. We were making a film in very difficult and adverse conditions and dealing with subject matters at the time and perhaps even now that were outside of the realms of the mainstream. I think this was recognised by all those involved and the film stands as a testament to their dedication to their craft and passion for making films in this country.

A Throw of Dice

Oops, missed Franz Osten’s A Throw of Dice at Trafalgar Square with a new score by Nitin Sawhney, which is NOT a Bollywood film but a Hindi film and formed a part of establishing Hindi cinema.

A Throw Of Dice (Prapancha Pash) is 77 minutes and was a India/Germany/UK production directed by Franz Osten in 1929. A silent film, the print has been newly restored.

The German-born director Franz Osten was a great influence on film makers in India and made 19 films in India between 1926 and 1939.

A Throw Of Dice formed the final part of a trilogy of Indo-German productions. Franz Osten fell from grace when in 1939 he became a member of the Nazi Party, resulting in his work being destroyed or simply lost.

The screening at Trafalger Sqaure has become a part of tradition where old classics, all silent films, have been fully restored, digitised and backed up by a new soundtracks, such as Battleship Potemkin with a new score from the Petshop Boys and A Throw of Dice seems to have been added to that list – an odd choice given its director’s history and the celebrations of 60 years of India’s independence and it’s subsequent partition. Perhaps a better choice would have Dadasaheb Palke’s masterpeice Raja Hairshchandra, the first full length feature produced in India.


Chechen Sufi Chants

“A wolf asks a dog “why are you chained up”, the dog replies: “That’s how it is”. “I prefer to be free”, says the wolf and walks away. That’s how it is for us. If only for a day, or a year…”

An old man sits in his house, as if from a forgotten age and shares his wisdom. In this clip of the Chechen Sufi Chants if perhaps the most mesmerising footage I have seen of Sufi’s in worship.

It is emotional, frightening, captivating and uncomfortable. In the far distance you can see a large mosque on the hill that dominates the village and to its right are the gallows.

The combination of spiritualism and a firm belief that the Chechen Islamic way is the only way forward is contrary to the beliefs of Sufi’s, confirming that religion is a matter of interpretation and not fact.

Composer Kuljit Bhamra, and the making of The Winter of Love

“All these experiences and memories were re-awakened the first time I read Shakila’s script. What struck me initially was her clever use of imagery in an un-chronological order”. Kuljit Bhamra

Kuljit Bhamra’s original and passionate soundtrack for The Winter of Love left many wanting more from this versatile composer. Since creating the highly original soundtrack, Kuljit has gone on to create music for prestigious shows and films.

The soundtrack for The Winter of Love is due for release on Keda Records.

Here, Kuljit give a personal account of creating the music for The Winter of Love.

“Writing the score and recording the music for the film was a memorable and rewarding experience for me – one that will forever remain fresh in my mind – for two reasons. Firstly, much of the filming took place in my hometown Southall at locations that I used to frequent as a young teenager.

Devil’s Tunnel (as we used to call it) ran under the Southall rail track, creating a pedestrian link between Park Avenue and the old Quaker Oats factory. I remember daring my childhood mates to cycle to the end of the long, cold, damp, dark passage and return. We would congregate at the entrance for hours exchanging idle gossip and daring each other- anything to distract us from actually taking up the spine-chilling challenge. Not one of us did.

I lived in Park Avenue with my family at number 49A from 1968 to 2000. Next door is to the entrance gates to Southall Park. I walked through the park daily on my way to school, and remember passing park benches where those old men gathered and drank from their bottles in brown paper bags whilst playing cards amongst the twitchy pigeons. These very locations are picturised in the film.

In addition, many scenes were shot on location in my recording studio complex and old storage building – which I now live in with my children, having spent five years renovating and rebuilding it.

The second reason is that I was thrilled when the director/writer Shakila Taranum Maan presented me with a script that had nothing to do with Bhangra, Bollywood or any other cliché /comic representations of British Asian culture. I was pleased that having already produced over 2000 bhangra and Punjabi dance tracks, I had met someone who was confident that I could do her ‘serious’ film justice. (I also believed that I could).

For as long as I can remember, I have always had a strong fascination with life – and therefore death. As a teenager, I secretly listened to funeral music and melancholic songs. I sneaked down to our living room after my parents had fallen asleep and enjoyed entering ‘the dark side’ with my headphones firmly on. As a result, my passion for life grew stronger over the years. I decided to live life to the full and began recording the dance music that many people know me for now.

Growing up in Southall, I noticed how many Indian customs, traditions and beliefs fought to find their place in British culture. I watched as questions regarding race, colour and women’s rights came to the forefront of people’s thinking.

All these experiences and memories were re-awakened the first time I read Shakila’s script. What struck me initially was her clever use of imagery in an un-chronological order. I was reminded that ‘time’ itself is a human invention. The ‘past’ does not actually exist in reality, but instead is a concoction of justifications, images and memories threaded together by the mind.

I decided to use lesser-known sounds from rare instruments to portray the necessary emotions in the music score. I searched and found players of little known instruments including the Sarangi, Santoor, Tar-Shehnai and Berimbao (musical bow and arrow from Africa). I felt that the use of these beautiful, yet unusual sounds would transport the viewer to all those places of unanswered questions, analysis, joy, sadness, melancholy and sleepless nights that I experienced as a youth, and that we all encounter at some times in our life.

For me personally, the whole process was an exciting, beautiful and spiritually rewarding trip back to ‘the dark side'”.

You can pre-order your copy of ‘The Winter of Love’here.

[DVD] [Trailers] [Gallery] [Cast & Crew] [Press & Publicity] [Synopsis]

Mehdi Hasan

When Lata Mangeshkar described Mehdi Hasan as perhaps one of the greatest singers, she was making a much needed recognition of an extraordinary talent. She further commented that she had much to learn from him, particularly his ability to take you to the place of the lyrics imparting from his lips.

Mehdi Hasan was born in India into a family which hailed from a great tradition north Indian classical music. Forced to move to Pakistan after the partition of India, Mehdi Hasan perhaps lost out on the global recognition for his extraordinary talent had he stayed in India.

Despite the limited audiences initially, he soon made the ghazal popular and inspired many to sing in a semi classical style and he had a major impact in the Urdu/Hindi speaking world with making ghazals popular in film per se.

Singing the works of Ahmed Faraz and Faiz Ahmed Faiz in Pakistani films, Mehdi Hasan reached international fame.

Perhaps it was the fate of artists of that era who were given begrudging recognition in Pakistan. Unable to embrace its artists due to Pakistan’s Islamic heritage, shunning many and letting traditions such as Mehdi Hasan’s slip away will no doubt leave a deep crevasse in creative expression.


Pavarotti No More

The death of Pavarotti was mourned by the whole world yesterday from the East and West condolences and word of his genius and unusual personality remained the topic of news. And of course his incredible and powerful voice.

Pavarotti was an unusual artist and didn’t consider opera to be just for the elite and went out of his way to work outside of the western world that opera continues to inhabit. His stint at the Beijing Opera brought him many admirers, where he encouraged talent to flourish and ensured that opera did not remain solely within the realms of Europe.

Perhaps his most memorable performances fall outside of classical opera where he teamed up with the pop world and worked with a spate of singers and musicians.

With James Brown he sang It’s a Man’s World

with Barry White, You’re the first, the last, my everything

with Queen, he concluded that Too Much Love Will Kill You.

Le Roi De Lahore

“Lahore” – an opera in five acts by Jules Massenet, a 19th century French composer much admired by Tchaikovsky – wrote over 25 operas, and hundreds of songs. Le Roi De Lahore stands out amongst his works because of its unusual theme. The opera was much admired as was most of his work. The libretto of Le Roi De Lahore is by Louis Gallet.

First performed in Paris in Theatre Opera, Lahore was an ode to Sita imploring the God Indra to save them from the invading Muslims led by Sultan Mahmoud. Commenting on the performance, Tchaikovsky, wrote in a letter that; “His opera, however, seduced me for its formal beauty, simplicity and freshness of the ideas and style, as well as for the richness of its melodies and the elegance of the harmony”

The extraordinary expect of this Opera is its confused narrative whilst attempting to be modern – Islamic characters are mixed up with Hindu gods such as Indra. Louis Gallet cleverly uses Sita who is played by Joséphine de Reszké as the protagonist, whilst Indra by Menu, Kaled by Fouquet, Timour by Boudouresque and Alim by Salomon. The creation of the role of Sita is credited to Joséphine de Reszké. A highly divisive piece of work, Le Roi De Lahore works within the tradition of orientalism – a romantic view of India – the mish-mashing of time-lines, the opera explores the invasion of Mogul empire and the demise of Hinduism. 

Perhaps Le Roi De Lahore should be revived so that we may view the mind of the European artist at that time, their perception of historical facts – Timor’s character or Alim for that matter skips a few thousand years evoking the god Indra, above all using Sita as the protagonist. Nevertheless, it was exciting to come across the fact of Le Roi De Lahore by Jules Massenet.

“Act I-Scene I – Before the Temple of Indra in Lahore, groups of men and women press against the temple gates, imploring the God Indra to save them from the invading Mohammedans who, led by the Sultan Mahmoud, are imminently expected to appear before the city. Timour, the High Priest, seeks to reassure them, saying that even if the King does not take the field against the invader, Indra will send them his aid. As the people enter the temple, Scindia, the King’s minister, approaches Timour. He has fallen in love with his own niece, Sitâ, and asks that she may be released from her vows as a priestess of Indra so that he may marry her. When Timour refuses – for only the King has the right to remove a priestess from the temple – Scindia, racked by passion, jealousy and anger, reveals that he has been told that each evening Sitâ is visited by an unknown man as she tends the altar. Timour is incensed, and promises that if she has broken her vows she will be punished. He agrees to allow Scindia to see her, but adds that he will be at hand, ready to appear if she should show sign of guilt. Scindia continues to be torn by conflicting emotions, one moment hoping that Sitâ may prove innocent, the next wishing her dead if she should be found guilty”.

John Adams, a Composer of Our Times

John Adams should be considered one of the great composers of our time. An American, Adams is best known for outstanding original and unusual compositions, amongst them Harmonium; Nixon in China; The Death of Klinghoffer; I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky; Doctor Atomic (about Oppenheimer) and A Flowering Tree.

For me what stands out is his interpretation of the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Emily Dickinson was a woman who lived during the 19th century in America and was thought to have looked after her parents as they aged. She left behind over 1500 poems written in books she created, many were left on scraps of paper. Invariably she lived a very conservative and regimented life. Despite this, Dickinson wrote some of the most romantic and erotic poetry to come of out America during that time, creating her own style and language, which even after her death took many decades to be accepted.

John Adams somehow understood and stepped into her shoes and created a masterpiece in his interpretation of ‘Because I Could Not Stop for Death’ and ‘Wild Nights’.

Energetic, surging, and at times immediate, Adams takes you into the world of Emily Dickinson’s words. Adams commented on ‘Because I Could Not Stop for Death’ stating that “the ‘placing’ of the speaker – in a slowly moving carriage while the sights and sounds of her life gradually pass her by – created an irresistible opportunity for a slow, disembodied rhythmic continuum”.

In addition to the work of Emily Dickinson, Adams has also interpreted the work of the 17th century poet John Donne. Donne’s ‘Negative Love’ is a great rendition of the fear of losing love. Adams composition takes you slowly into the poem, a very masculine sound, unlike that which he created with Dickinson’s poetry which is immediate, fragrant and secretive, like the night. Donne’s poems have a vastness of space and require time to enter it. ‘Negative Love’ has a ‘rolling’ thunder sound echoing the openness and his love of creating imagery as a metaphor for nature. And this is what brings the two poets together, their similarities and use of known patterns whilst maintaining their own original style and metre.

Because I Could Not Stop For Death
By Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played
At wrestling in a ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We passed before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ‘t is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ head
Were toward eternity.

Wild Nights
By Emily Dickinson

Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile – the Winds –
To a Heart in port –
Done with the Compass –
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden –
Ah, the sea!
Might I but moor – Tonight –
In Thee!

Negative Love
By John Donne

I never stoop’d so low, as they
Which on an eye, cheeke, lip, can prey
Seldome to them, which soare no higher
Than virtue of the minde to’ admire,
For sense, and understanding may
Know, what gives fuell to their fire:
My love, though silly, is more brave,
For may I misse, when ere I crave,
If I know yet, what I would have.

If that be simply perfectest
Which can by no way be exprest
But Negatives, my love is so.
To All, which all love, I say no.
If any who deciphers best,
What we know not, our selves, can know,
Let him teach mee that nothing; this
As yet my ease, and comfort is,
Though I speed not, I cannot misse.