With economic liberalization, India and its’ people have grown and changed immeasurably – its much talked-about, “aspirational” Middle Class masses, the country’s growth engine, have taken on previously-unseen hues.
Nowhere is the influence of that Middle Class – and the upheavals they weather – more apparent than in Mumbai, India’s teeming, vibrant and cosmopolitan capital of culture and commerce.
Now a new independent film by a London-based filmmaker is set to shed light on this mass of people and the trials, tribulations and joy they experience through the microcosm of one of the city’s most famous old streets.
The film, titled ‘Samuel Street’ is written and directed by Londoner Aliakbar Campwala – the man behind the unusual and insightful ‘The Invisible Subtitler’.
It will be screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival 2016 which gets underway next month.
The street, located in the southern part of the main Mumbai peninsula, has long been a bastion of the conservative Middle Class and is home to people from across the socio-cultural spectrum.
‘Samuel Street’ revolves around a handful of these characters – a young man who returns to India from overseas to find a country changed beyond imagination; a mother who holds on steadfastly to her traditional values in a rapidly changing world – their lives intermingling with that of a female prison officer living in the UK.
At the centre of those characters is that of the mother who is played by the veteran Indian actress Sarita Joshi whose previous credits include such films as ‘Guru’, ‘Dasvidaniya’ and ‘Gangoobai’. Newcomers Saif Thakur and Anne Adams take up the other central roles.
The film explores themes such as identity, culture, family and the individual isolation that is often the experience of many a big-city dweller.
Filmmaker Aliakbar Campwala
“It’s a film that is a warm, comical and nostalgic journey that is also dashed with surrealism and realism. I wanted to focus on the city dweller and the challenges they face, in particular the elders of Middle Class India”. Campwala says.
But while the characters are integral to the story, ‘Samuel Street’ is ultimately an ode to Mumbai, one of the world’s greatest cities and one which continues to enthral millions.
“Making a film in Mumbai has been one of the most toughest aspects of filmmaking in my career as you have to go through a lot of social stereotypes and barriers to create something completely different from normal that can also appeal to communities worldwide”, Campwala adds.
The Mumbai immortalized in innumerable films and books has been given yet another hue with the film’s soundtrack, composed by New Yorker Rishabh Rajan and which combines the best of East and West to pay tribute to Mumbai – where the crossroads of the world meet.
‘Samuel Street’ will have its world premier at the Cannes Film Festival on 14thMay 2016.