Shiv Grewal from the cast The Winter of Love

Shiv Grewal’s rendition of Shammi in ‘The Winter of Love’ (formerly ‘A Quiet Desperation’) takes the viewer into a difficult world of a lonely man.Estranged from his brother and his family, Shammi finds himself on the outside, living a life as a drunk and destitute. The character of Shammi epitomises the question of what is a good person. Here we see an unkempt man, living in his car and sleeping with prostitutes who end up being the saviour of his niece, Preeti. Played with a reserve seldom seen, Shiv Grewal gives a performance of depth epitomising despair.

Shiv Grewal is an established British actor, working on stage, film and television and often on radio playing key roles with depth and conviction.

His most recent production playing the part of Afzal in “The Last Enemy” (2007) is shot at the Castel Film Studios, Bucharest, Romania and in London. Parts of it were shot near the Battersea Power Station. The film is currently in post-production.

Shiv has been involved in British Asian theatre for some years now and has appeared in a number of productions. Bringing his vast experience to the production of The Winter of Love, Shiv’s professionalism helped propel this low budget/no budget feature into some shape.

His portrayal of Shammi’s character brought out the quiet desperation of the character and pin-pointed the defiance within bringing in these striking elements onto the screen – that of an outsider.

Sound Design – The Winter of Love

Sound Design has fast been gathering the momentum of star status within the post production world of motion picture. The importance of sound design to a film is paramount and with the advent of technical progress, the sophistication of its application and creation of sound design is reaching heady heights, ever evolving.

In The Winter of Love, the sound design created by Julian MacDonald is highly original, which is not be confused with the film’s soundtrack composed by the legendry Kuljit Bhamra. Julian has gone on to produce a fascinating world of emotion through sound where the characters in the ‘The Winter of Love’ epitomise a specific group of people suffering a universal truth.

For example, Julian uses nature to bring out Preeti’s character played by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti creating a world where the character longs to escape and Julian draws out her mental state to the forefront; whereas the sound design created for Shammi’s character is that of a wide open world, with dramatic skies and open roads, signify an inner desire of the character to constantly escape.

Julian MacDonald managed to create a world full of complexity drawing out the essence of the script and the film’s final edit; he understood the nature of the movement within the film as that one of being a non-linearity embracing all aspects of past, present and future of capturing a moment as well as the whole.

The Winter of Love and its film language

In ‘The Winter of Love’ (formerly ‘A Quiet Desperation’), film language or creating its own internal language was a key driving force in making the film.Upon reflection, the DOP commented that we had entered the realms of European film making – albeit some clumsy moments, the film’s ambitions to a certain extent were met.

By using a non-linear structure, which at the time of filming was just coming to the notice of audiences, the film tried to make a difference in how low budget films were structured. In hindsight, it might have been easier to go with a conventional structure as the theme of the language was alienation and the outsider, a tall order by any means.

The language of the film really came together on the editing table, where we were challenged to work with a limited amount of material. In total we had shot about 7 hours of footage, working with a ratio of 10 to 1, or is it 1 to 10 – I don’t recall which way it’s meant to be read, anyhow, for every shot we could only shoot ten takes or we would have run out of film stock. Phew!

With Shammi’s character along side that of Preeti, the language of the outsider was quickly established – this was then depicted through shots of lone skies in various colours/moods/shades and close shots of the bodies of the characters which further alienated them from the whole.

For me to decipher the language of the film is a difficult matter as I believe the film uses cyclical motions to travel with each character as the story develops and returns to the present – so the anchor was always the present and rested within the character of Shammi, played by Shiv Grewal; he is the outsider, who once upon a time was on the inside but had the ability to step away, learn about the world and return – it was about showing a broken man unable to maintain himself being and by default becoming the saviour; attaining redemption.

The Winter of Love and The Use of Colour

In ‘The Winter of Love’ (formerly ‘A Quiet Desperation’), the use of colour and choices were paramount to establishing character and the mood of the story.By choosing to make the film primarily in winter and parts of it shot in early summer, the colour and mood were set. Locating the film in Southall also meant a deep influence in the colour tones – ranging from bright pinks through to rustic colours of autumn and winter.

The art direction by Amarjeet Kaur Nandhra meant bringing in her sensibility for the interior scenes of the film. Preeti’s bedroom became a key scene where a particular orange and yellow were used to create a golden light around the character.

Using Vermeer’s work, the Dutch painter as a starting point, the colours came together very easily – warm lights highlighting the character and not the scene meant that the focus of the story was maintained and enhanced. In both the bedroom scenes and the bath scenes, warm tones were used to help with developing sympathy for Preeti’s character.

Working on low budget meant accepting locations as they were – white walls!! These became a nightmare for the DOP along with the Art Department – adding colour to such spaces became a challenge but we gradually learnt to work with white walls using them to our advantage and at times creating an austere and melancholic mood. This of course was developed into a major theme and became a central character thread throughout the film.

Koutaiba Al-Janabi, Cinematographer of The Winter of Love

Renowned Cinematographer Koutaiba Al-Janabi’s contribution to the independent film, The Winter of Love, was uncompromising. Highly experienced of working on low budget productions and supporting new film makers, meant that filming of The Winter of Love was possible. Below is an extract of an interview with Koutaiba Al-Janabi conducted by Charlie Sen.

What is your background?

I was born in Baghdad, and studied at the Budapest film school and later moved to London. I have worked on short films, documentaries, and I have made a few features, and The Winter of Love (formerly A Quiet Desperation) is one of these low/no-budget feature films that I worked on.

How did you come to work on The Winter of Love?

A few years ago I met Shakila Taranum Maan with a ready script and she was looking for a Director of Photography to work with her. Ruhul Amin (another Filmmaker), from the Bangladeshi community introduced us and we started to work together. At that time I was in the middle of filming with Leon Herbert, shown in many cinemas in London. That too was a no/low-budget film, titled Emotional Backgammon. Shakila saw my work, I saw her work and I felt she came from the East, so did I, and I spent before many, many years in Eastern Europe always working with European subjects and I felt that this was a real opportunity for me to work with someone from the East.

I talked together with Shakila about our backgrounds, how we like colour; how we like the people. And so through these conversations a relationship started between us. From that moment I advised Shakila to explore the history of art and we started to study the old painters and advised her to see the work of the Dutch master, Johannes Vermeer to establish the mood and the relationship of the Preeti, who lived mostly in her bedroom. We started to work with the scenes in the house, for the colour of the location. We had some difficulties, as there was very little money involved. We went to the location a few times, we set up the scenes.

The film is based in Southall, a very well known multicultural area in London. We visited the area many times. Shakila took me to around the area; we worked a lot to prepare this film.

So what kind of look did you go for? What was your and your director’s design?

The starting point was very strange – really it was the East, and the quality of the drama and the story. Plus – a very strange thing happened to me. Always I build the scene – when I first saw Shakila’s face it gave me a lot to move the story. Her face, she doesn’t know this, but Shakila was the starting point. Because I felt that in that period, definitely she worked on this script for many years, and I tried to get something from her face, her hands.

We felt about yellowish, golden colour, as this colour in my culture and her culture was dominant.

How was it shooting in a place like Southall?

I thank Shakila because she gave me the chance. Maybe she liked the first three days of the filming and she let me move on and I moved on – anybody came to Southall who have not been to India will be impressed with the colour, the people, with the shops. Somehow for me, I can feel the similarity with where I came from. I felt I knew the people. I knew them before. I can talk to anybody in the street, I can touch anybody on the street, and I can go to the shops. Somehow I feel this kind of tolerance and the people of Southall were very open to help. This is what helped me to show Southall

So how did you visualise the film?

The framing was open, although Shakila had a very strong visual style she was willing to look at different ways of imagery for the film. Also as it was low budget we understood that we had to treat the 35mm like a 16mm and so that is how it was. As I mentioned before, we didn’t prepare everything so much in advance and the situation was always moving and changing around us. And we have to be creative sometimes we have to be handheld; people sometimes don’t arrive on time. We jump to another scene. The light is no good, everything is changing and we must think very quickly, and this is something, which made the people very tired because we worked very hard. And the crew was very limited.

Being low budget, you must have had a very good team to work with – how were you able to sustain it?

I must thank two people, they worked very hard; Thomas Theakstone he was the Focus Puller and he was the Gaffer.

We got very good support from the producer, Manjeet. She gave us very good confidence and really supported us. Sometimes we did not really have permission to shoot, things like that. The lights we put it in the middle of the road! We made it in a crazy way, in a guerrilla filmmaking way. Manjeet was brought up in Southall and she had a relationship with the people, and this helped a lot.

As the film was made on 35 mm and we had huge equipment. Tom, and Gaffer Paul DeFriepas and I – I can’t remember all the rest of the people, we all worked very hard. And you can see the quality of the picture. We never let any scene go without lighting it well.

Were you able to get support from the industry?

With my relationship with Panavision, Shepperton and after Adrian Waterlow met with Shakila and read the script, they tried to encourage her and they gave her a very good deal which helped us a lot. We need to thank Adrian as he helped us to get the equipment, and Harry Rushton at Bucks Labs who helped us so much and really took the project to heart, he further helped us to get the footage from Fuji through Roger Sapsford. We got a few lights from Lee Lighting.

I am very proud of this film, and I hope somehow, somewhere the film gets some luck and is shown.

This was clearly a low budget film, how was it on a day to day basis?

This was a big thing, Shakila and Manjeet, they put this thing together and they tried. They got support from the crew and from me to realise this dream – it seems to me that the dreams of low-budget films in this country there are problems.

I think this was made five years ago carrying the subject about tolerance and personal struggles. And this is a big issue around us and always will be. And all the crew, actors worked beautifully, enthusiastically, everybody when they saw the film they realised the quality of the picture. I believe this film will never die because everybody put their heart in to this film.

This film was shot in very small rooms, small locations, Manjeet and Shakila’s friends, council flats and so on. Every location in this film carried the energy – and the human touch. We made two sets, the scene with Banger and his wife and she set up the shed where Shammi and his older brother drinks – but I think this was half a set as we used a really shed so in reality we only made one set. All the film was shot in real locations.

How was it being in Southall, as part of a community?

With this film I believe and we believed that we went into the heart of the community. I do believe that the East is East. And that is very clear when you go to a place like Southall.

We worked very hard to present the mood of the light, and working toward the colour of the Art Director, Amarjeet Kaur Nandhra, who had put in lots of effort.

As the DOP of this film, I am very proud of the night scenes, of the shadow scenes, abut the colouring of the film, the quality of the colour. And all this I think it is a little bit in the European style. It is not a Bollywood film, absolutely not. A Bollywood film you need money. Somehow we made a European film.

I think the film shows the struggle of the community. But the problem is with low budget film you need some support to survive, need some distributors for such a film to survive.

We showed the harshness, the difficulties, the suffering of the immigrant community. I think this film will show either the beginning or an end of this kind of film being made here in this country. I also think that this film shows the energy of the Asian community and all the community was very positive with us. And through all this – a kind of tolerance between the communities, and it was fantastic to work with the people in the heart of it.

What is your overall feeling of the project?

I think this is the best that I have touched, because of the atmosphere, the quality of the picture. This is when the Director of Photography can work and is able to voice their thoughts and have input. I feel that everything is there in this film.

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.

An Extract from the Screenplay

When I started to write the screenplay for The Winter of Love (formally ‘A Quiet Desperation’) I was looking for not just story in the classical sense but I wanted to create a visual language that the film could inhabit – something that was truly its own language; body and soul. Rumi’s famous saying of “it takes the raw to know the ripe” kept coming to mind. Although it was something that I had read 15 years prior to putting pen to paper, visually this image really stayed with me because you knew its essence was pain coupled with joy. I wanted to be able to illustrate that sense through framing; through the use of prime lenses; in the editing; the lighting; through its essential movement and with as little dialogue as possible. Shammi’s (played by Shiv Grewal) world of prostitutes, memories and the need to get away all added to how the film naturally came together: to that of a non-linear structure. At the time of writing and indeed the final release, very few films were so structured. Now, I am pleased to say that the ‘non-linear’ has become a style in its own right that audiences have embraced.

Below is an extract from the screenplay of The Winter of Love, it is one of my many favourite ‘Shammi’ moments that the character traverses. The scene appears almost half way into the film:

INT. BROTHEL – NIGHT — PRESENT

Shammi enters a terraced house. A MAN stands at the bottom of the stairs, blocking it. As he walks up to the man, Shammi takes out some cash and hands it to him. The man counts the money and puts it in his pocket.

MAN

The end bedroom, upstairs. 30 minutes only. Understand? Understand?

Shammi nods his head, swaying. The man lets Shammi past, clicking his stop watch. He observes him walk up the stairs, pushing Shammi up as he sways, loosing his balance, then pulling himself along the banisters; we then see Shammi walking along a dark corridor pushing against the black and red of his surrounding, grappling with broken plaster on the walls for support.

FADE OUT:

FADE UP:

INT. BROTHEL – DERELICT ROOM — NIGHT

Shammi stands in a trance looking at a PROSTITUE. The back of the prostitute’s legs cut through the frame and we see Shammi through her legs. He slowly starts to undo his trousers and the prostitute starts to swing her hips. Seductive music blares out of the speakers. Shammi as if in a trance, undoes his trousers as the prostitute gyrates to the music.

A crash-zoom brings a terrifying sound of a woman screaming.

FLASH CUT TO:

INT. FOOT TUNNEL — DAY

A very young Shammi and Yasmin walk hand in hand, through a back-alley leading to a tunnel.

Unknown to them, three men are waiting.

As they near the foot tunnel, one of the men grabs Shammi and throws him to the ground. Another throws Yasmin to the ground. He starts to kick her in the stomach.

EXTREME CLOSE ANGLE – Yasmin lies on the floor — boots fly into the frame, stamping and kicking her head.

Shammi tries to fight the two men off, and in his confusion he doesn’t see how badly Yasmin has been hurt. She lays on the ground, still and lifeless.

The three men run off.

As Shammi tries to get up, he sees that Yasmin unconscious.

He calls out to her. When she doesn’t respond he screams. The scream continues blending into the darkness.

CUT TO:

EXT. SOUTHALL BROADWAY – NIGHT – PRESENT

…Shammi running, to escape the memory, the screams and away from the prostitute.

CUT TO:

INT. SINGH RESIDENCE – UPSTAIRS CORRIDOR — DAY

All the doors are closed; with bolts and hooks – it’s deeply melancholic, almost haunted.

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

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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.

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The Actors in The Winter of Love

Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad impressions – trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel. From all sides they come, an incessant shower of innumerable atoms; and as they fall, as they shape themselves into the life of Monday or Tuesday, the accent falls differently from of old; the moment of importance came not here but there.
Virginia Woolf

It is often difficult to encapsulate the process of being on set and working with actors. Actors are wonderful creatures; deeply trustful and willing to take on anything thrown at them. Of course there are exceptions to this statement. I was fortunate to work with a group of actors who gave so much for so little; Shiv Grewal, Gurpreet Bhatti, Dev Sagoo, Shakher Bassi, Pravesh Kumar, Hardeep Singh Mangat and Badi U Zaman. They would come on set – be completely aware of the difficulties vis-à-vis lack of funds and were thoroughly professional.

I used the quote from Virginia Woolf because I knew so little about what would be involved in working with a group of up to 50 to 60 people on a daily basis – and that they all looked to me for direction. The actors in particular I was very excited to work with. The Winter of Love (formally ‘A Quiet Desperation’) was my first feature film that had been solely financed by myself and my Producer. And the actors were fully aware of this and respected the production even more so because of the financial constraints.

When Virginia Woolf writes “the moment of importance came not here but there” I feel that this encapsulated much of what transpired during the shoot.

Shiv Grewal, playing the lead of Shammi returning to his brother’s funeral played by Dev Sagoo was a god send. He played it how I had imaged it – with restraint and an internal world that Shammi rarely stepped out of.

Some aspects of the characters trajectory weren’t developed fully and that was down to the writing and finally my direction – in hindsight this was due to not having enough experience of the needs of the character and what is truly required for them to come to a culmination of sorts which ever way life takes them. Shammi’s lost love (played by Anita Massi) alas was one such casualty – but the sequences of his memory of her whether at a brothel or on a rainy day on Southall Broadway, are my favourite in the film and Shiv plays this with great depth and a lacerated heart.

Dev Sagoo as the respectable but flawed elder brother as ‘Paji’ is at times frightening – when he discusses his daughter with his ‘helper’ Banger played by Shakher Bassi, he casually hints at ‘doing away with the boy’, who in this instance is played by Pravesh Kumar, Preeti’s love interest.

Preeti is of course played by the talented Gurpreet Bhatti. Gurpreet Bhatti was extraordinary whilst on set – her rendition of Preeti and her willingness to explore difficult moments – like the washing scenes in the bathroom – a cleaning ritual that Preeti developed after being abused by Banger – required great courage. She brought pathos and humour to an otherwise difficult character. The scenes between Dev (who plays her father in the film) show a young woman who just wants to ‘be happy’. Paji confronts her and tells her that she can’t survive in the outside world that she has a weak mind and that she uses bad language. When Preeti challenges him – he says that she uses words like ‘bollocks’ – this brings a smile to Preeti’s face and breaks the otherwise tense scene. Gurpreet’s interpretation of Preeti hit the mark.

Both Shiv and Gurpreet understood the element of time within the film’s structure and how I wanted to use it – their characters and in fact the entire film has a non-linear structure and it came naturally for the telling of this story. Preeti’s belief that Anil visits her at their favourite meeting places are dreamlike and Shammi seeing his lost love in swaying fabrics brought a melancholy to the scenes.

Shammi’s relationships with his brothers – Paji and Chacha Malli played by Badi U Zaman are that of distance. The sequence of washing Paji’s body in the funeral parlour where Shammi has to assist Sonu (played by Hardeep Singh Mangat), Paji’s son are played perfectly by Shiv. His brief drinking sessions with Chacha Malli (played by Badi U Zaman) are playful but melancholic – a trait that ensures Shammi’s ultimate fate; that of being alone.

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

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The Journey of Film in Southall

Shooting “The Winter of Love” (formally ‘A Quiet Desperation’) in Southall was paramount to its manifestation. Without Southall – the film would be meaningless. It was not just the question of the story being played out in the streets of Southall – but enmeshed in it was my long standing relationship with the town.

My connection with films in Southall goes back to the heady days of the three cinema’s on South Road, leading up to the Green starting with Liberty Cinema, with Century in the middle and the Dominion Cinema towards the end. Our journeys to these cinemas were with our parents – larger than life images of Hindi film stars; great movies such as

Pakeezah,

Sholay,

Hanste Zakham,

and Amar Akbar Anthony

played havoc on our imaginations as children. Southall like many small Asian communities throughout Britain created a hub and buzz around Hindi Cinema and made it popular outside of India and brought it to its present day success in Britain and generally in the West – a success that British Asians should be given a full credit for.

With the demise of the cinemas and the rise of video’s that collective viewing soon disappeared along with the closures of the three cinemas – the Dominion Cinema was bought by the Indian Workers Association who renamed it The Dominion Centre. An act of pure charity, the cinema was bought by the IWA with a view that the centre would be funded by the local council and service the entire community regardless of race or gender. As part of the purchase, the IWA in their wisdom demolished a state of the art building and replaced with a monstrosity designed by what can only be described as a creatively deprived architect who created a building without a heart and soul as well as acoustics! But the users and the people of Southall embraced the building as their own and now it operates as the only secular community building in Southall.

Many creative individuals since have emerged from Southall. A key inspirational figure in making a marking on the film and theatre scene was Harwant Bains. And film for a brief moment seemed to have returned to Southall. His ‘Wild West’, shot in 1992 caused a stir amongst the local community as well as nationally. The story is set in Southall where a young Pakistani sees himself as a cowboy and has ambitions of fronting a country and western music band – his dream is to go to Nashville. A zany caper, ‘Wild West’ gave many of us inspiration to create and produce our own films.

Since then a number of documentaries have appeared on television covering various issues around Southall; “A Fearful Silence”, about the work of Southall Black Sisters on domestic violence in Asian communities produced by Azad Productions; Acting our age directed by Gurinder Chadha and a powerful and moving search by Melanie Sykes for a sense of belonging in her Melanie Sykes Southall Stories directed by Fatima Salaria.

Deeply inspirational, Southall has been an example to British Asian communities through out the British Isles and many communities in Europe. My decision to shoot and locate ‘The Winter of Love’ (formally ‘A Quiet Desperation’) in Southall stems directly from a sense of deep belonging to a place that has influenced and shaped my outlook on life.

Southall means many things to many people. Acting as a town near a point of entry (Heathrow) it has traditionally sheltered all immigrants coming into its borders; Jewish refuges from the second world war; West Indian settlers from the Windrush; Pakistani and Indian settlers in the 50’s and 60’s; Ugandan Asian’s escaping Idi Amin’s regime along with Kenyan’s and Asians and most recently Somalian’s.

Southall’s ability to absorb a diversity of life is a testament to its openness and embracing nature. Perhaps we will see many more stories coming from Southall with a Somalian; Polish, Jewish or Irish slant nestled within universal themes.

Visiting Bill Cooke & Terry Tkachuk website, the Southall Film Studios History Project confirmed its place in the creative history of British film making.

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

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