CULTURAL REALITY: A still from the movie Sacch


SCOTLAND SET MOVIE PORTRAYS THE IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE

by ASJAD NAZIR

SCOTTISH politician turned producer Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh OBE has made the leap from parliament to cinema with new movie Sacch, which goes on general release this week.

The ambitious film shot in Scotland aims to bring together British, Pakistani and Indian cultures. Born in London and brought up in Scotland, Tasmina has brought together new and established talent for the romantic drama, including Scottish debutant actress Elysee Sheikh. The romantic drama revolves around two men, unaware they are brothers, falling in love with the same woman, which leads to hidden family secrets coming out.

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh OBE

What led you to producing a film?
When I first heard the script, I felt it was a beautiful story that needed to be told to a larger audience. Movies and filmmaking is something I have always been passionate about. Once we had the right script, it felt right to go into producing the film.

How did you select the subject and why did you shoot in Scotland?
Sacch is the brainchild of my husband Zulfikar Sheikh, and the subject matter is a portrayal of his personal creative take on British culture and its adoption by his Asian community. Scotland is a historic destination with beautiful castles. No Pakistani film has been shot there, which made me want to do it. The stunning locations have added to the feel and character of the film. We also thought it would be a good way of integrating cultures through movies.

How did you decide on the cast?
The cast was the director’s choice. We have a good mix of debutants, as well as experienced actors such as Javed Sheikh and Uzma Gillani. We have the extremely talented Elysee Sheikh starring opposite the equally talented Asad Zaman Khan and Humayoun Ashraf. They bring a sense of youthfulness and hope into the film. There are also the wonderful Fazila Qazi, Ayesha Sana and Nauman Masood. The entire cast was so dedicated and hardworking, we couldn’t have asked for more.

What is your own favourite moment in the movie?
What I love about Sacch is that it is an honest portrayal of the dichotomies, trials and tribulations of the Asian community in the UK. Sacch covers a range of topics as they impact each character’s life and intertwine to bring together a picture of life for so many British Asian families in the UK. There are so many moments that are impactful and meaningful that it would be impossible to pick one.

A still from the movie Sacch

Who are you hoping connects with the film?
Through Sacch, we aim to unify the Pakistani, Indian and British culture, and foster community respect, as well as dignity. We aim to connect with these audiences. Sacch for me epitomises diversity. I hope that, specifically, the Asian community responds to this film and appreciates British culture. I hope this brings us one step closer to bridging the cultural divide.

What is the plan going forward in terms of filmmaking?
Well, this is our first venture into this industry, and it’s a huge playing field with so many creative people sharing important messages. But we’ve seen how our passion for this project has fulfilled us in a way we’ve never experienced before. Hopefully, there will be many more projects to come because films are such a good way to address things that are often overlooked. I feel it is a great privilege to be able to convey your message through art and to be able to change or impact someone’s life even if it is in a small way.

Tell us more?
I really engaged with the process, and it made me want to do more projects like this in the future, seeing as there are so many things left that I feel need to be brought into popular discourse. Hopefully, there will be something new.

What is your own favourite movie?
My favourite movie is Casablanca. I love that era, and the intense
romance and sacrifice for the sake of true love.

What inspires you?
I feel the values of community, respect and dignity are all important. Making sure that there is some progress in the process of achieving these ideals acts as a motivating factor for me. I see all the talented women who worked on this film, and the strength and ability that they brought to the production process, as well as the overall project. It is the stories of others who struggle to get what they want, be it equality between gender, race, ethnicity, among others, that inspire me. It drives me to go out and use the resources I have to make a difference.

Why should we watch the film Sacch?
It is truly such a beautiful story, which is entertaining and thought provoking. It subtly brings to light the cross-cultural divide that still exists in Britain, as well as shows the audience what the immigrant experience is like. My husband feels it encapsulates British culture in the sense that it is the expected way of life of minorities, and it is a project that’s very close to his heart, so we’ve all put a lot of effort into it. The acting is phenomenal. They are all characters and issues that quite a few people will be able to relate to, and that makes it a very engaging film to watch.

Sacch is out in cinemas now