BUBBLES is a film about a child’s shocking encounter with the adult violence; it is also about how violence is like a fog that seeps into family life and infects everyone. There are no easy answers in this short film, but I hope that it will move and provoke audiences to think about violence in new ways – especially when we know that 275 million children, across the world, witness an act of domestic violence every year (Source: UNICEF).
When I started to write the screenplay for Bubbles, it was early in the morning and I had just woken from a strange dream. In the nights that followed, I had successive dreams, which added to the haunting images of my first. As I wrote these dreams down, image-by-image, sound-by-sound, I saw that they were connected and that my imagination was trying to communicate something to me through these seemingly disjointed fragments.
These fragments have been beautifully translated to the screen in collaboration with my wonderful cast and crew. DP Sam Mitchell has done a gorgeous job creating a nostalgic and cold beauty in digital anamorphic and the actors have given wonderful, profound and humane performances. Shabana Azmi (Nani) is an international star and it was a delight to work with her. I was also delighted to work with Christopher Simpson once more. He makes a moving and nuanced turn as the Young Man, while Bhasker Patel plays his angry and imposing father fantastically. I am especially excited about showing our young star – Yasmeen Siddiqui’s performance to the world. It is Yasmeen’s first time in a movie, and her performance is remarkable.
After writing the script, I understood quickly that Bubbles is our anchor: she is an eyewitness and captive in this fragile and claustrophobic home. Bubbles watches the classic 1973 film Bobby. Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia sing a seemingly playful number of sexual desire and fantasies of violence: she can’t understand them, but she is somehow captivated by Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s playfully brilliant score. The song captures and recapitulates the tension between inside and outside that is at the heart of this little film: You and me locked in a room and no one can get in. But can we get out if we want to?
This is a film as much about exclusion – not being part of the outside world – as it is about a little girl’s haunting encounter with violence at home. It is never clear whether it is the house full of marooned North Indians who are rejected by London, or whether they have successfully barricaded themselves into a world of their own fashioning: a world of paan-daans (betel nut boxes) and Hindi films. Bubbles bears witness to a reality of exclusion, isolation and patriarchy lived by countless people.