Rama’s Second Thought (A Story)

Dilip was a great musician. He had been lucky. He had a great master who was feted in London, Paris, San Fransisco, Benares and Calcutta. In those days, for an Indian musician in particular, this was rare.

Dilip’s Guru-ji was a rare bird – a genius – both musically and as a show man. Guru-ji knew instinctively what the audience wanted; so much so that, years later, he knew exactly when to retire, when the game was up, when he could no longer play well enough to please the connoisseurs.

I didn’t know anything about the sitar, but Dilip made it sing so that even I could understand its beauty. People said that he was Guru-ji’s finest pupil, the most gifted. But Dilip had a taste for whiskey that matched his talent, and many years later he died of a wretched liver, having abandoned a wife and given up on family life. Guru-ji survived him, the great man. He can’t be blamed for Dilip’s end; he has so many disciples, and the others they thrive – most famously his own daughter, who was accepted back into the fold at about the time that Dilip started to fail. She’s had reasonable success as her father’s daughter, as a real bombshell, and a reasonably talented sitarist.

Dilip’s demise was written by his own hand, not in his master’s.

I remember the time, when once, twenty years before the end, he drunkenly fell and broke a lead crystal glass. It cut his right hand so that his severed thumb had to be carried in an ice pack with him to casualty. We wrapped his hand in blood-soaked cloth to prevent him from seeing the real damage. They sewed his thumb back on and he played for many years, appreciated by Calcutta audiences who know so much about music. But for that hour he was a sitarist without a right thumb, a man without a future. Maybe he saw what was coming. Better to end it now.

A father who didn’t provide. A distracted guru. Nothing could be fixed, everything that mattered: empty. Even the music couldn’t give him the love he had lost somewhere along the way. Didn’t he have faith in the music?

Maybe the music is fine, but the hours in between become the problem: how to make them go. The thrill of performance, followed by the crabbed silence of a dressing room, the linoleum corridors of an anonymous concert hall. The loneliness when you reluctantly stagger home at the end of the night; and then, the physical discomfort of a night’s drinking. A smallish man, he must have felt it – that and so much more.

When we were children, Dilip would read to us. He would read from Amar Chitra Katha comics, which he brought for us when he visited from Calcutta.

He told us the stories dutifully, pointing out pictures to illustrate his telling. They were stories from Indian history and about the exploits of the gods. The Ramayana was a favourite of ours. Hanuman, Rama, Sita and Laxman all came to life in his voice. We were always relieved at the end when, on second thought, Rama thought better of putting Sita’s fidelity through a trial by fire. Saved by that moment’s reprieve, they all lived happily ever after. It was only in my twenties that I was told the story’s real ending. Shattered by her husband’s faithlessness, on his insistence that she walk through fire to prove her virtue, Sita called on mother earth to swallow her up. And so she died, and Rama was penitent – like Henry II at Thomas’ tomb – and it was too late.

Dilip didn’t have the heart to tell us the real story.




Do people still use pencils?

Well I certainly do, and the best, my favourite, the cream of the crop, is the wonderful Mitsubishi Hi-Uni Pencil. It is available in at least 15 different lead grades, is solid and reliable. I was introduced to it by a most wonderful friend of mine, the late architect, artist and professor Cyrus Jhabvala. These pencils were good enough for him. Need I say more?


So far, I have only found these pencils on the brilliant website www.cultpens.com – which I thoroughly recommend to anyone with a penchant for stationery – that most affordable (and practical) of luxuries.

At £2.40 a shot, you know you’re worth it.

Wash Your Face

Our grandparents may have washed their faces with soap and water for seventy years and had great skin, but theirs were simpler times (or so we think). Despite pea-soupers, they did not have to deal with as much pollution (or advertising) as their grandchildren contend with. And many of us use something more fussy than soap to wash away the grime of a hard day.


The question is, how do you distinguish snake oil from the really good stuff when it comes to cleansers?

First off, please note that the right cleanser is probably worth far more than the face cream you use. I admit that finding one that suits you is a very personal matter, and may need the advice of an expert facialist (AKA Abigail James) or dermatologist.

Vagaries aside, there are certain rules of thumb.

  1. Read the ingredients label. Ingredients are listed in order of how much of a particular ingredient is in the product.
  2. Avoid paraffin (aka Vaseline/Petroleum Jelly). It does not remove much, and being as cheap as chips it shouldn’t really find its way into some of the most expensive cleansers around. Shall I name and shame?
  3. Don’t pay top dollar for cleansers the primary ingredient of which is Aqua (AKA Water- as if the Latin did anything to mitigate the oldest scam in the book – see also coin clipping and the watering down of gin).

For me, Live Native Cleansing Balm is miles ahead of any other balm or cream cleanser I can find (I’ve never monitored exactly how long a large jar lasts – at least 3 months being used twice a day, possibly 4). I also rate Dr Alkaitis’s Face Wash. You will notice that both products hail from very “natural” brands – in part because I like small companies and products that are ethically made. Also, being married to a chemist, I am well trained in reading labels (please don’t buy beauty products without doing so), and am happy with the ingredients that go into these goops. Both these cleansers have the virtue of being highly concentrated. In fact, none of Live Native’s products is watered down or emulsified to nullity and Dr. Alkaitis designed his whole range with his wife in mind because (as a chemist) he was irritated by the emperor’s new creams that she kept bringing home.


If you want a list of the products I’ve been through before reaching this point, I’d happily share. I would also be glad to learn about the products you love and find effective, so do comment below with refutations and recommendations. Thanks!

Acid Free Paper – What does it mean?

Acid damage

I am really proud to say that today I have a special guest blog from Lorraine Finch who is an accredited conservator specialising in the conservation and preservation of film, sound and photographs. She has 22 years conservation experience working in museums, libraries, archives and with individuals. She owns and runs LF Conservation and Preservation. In a series of two blogs, Lorraine is going to do some myth-busting about “acid-free” paper and give us some of that vital tool for all discerning shoppers: knowledge!

Cons headshot

OK, you have some important writing that you want to keep. You’ve bought some acid-free, archival quality paper thinking that your words will be preserved for posterity, but will they?

Archival quality suggests that the paper is permanent, durable and chemically stable, and that therefore it will last for a long time. It may shock you to know that “archival quality “ is a non-technical term. It is not quantifiable. At the time of writing, no standards exist to describe how long “archival” or “archival quality” will last.

So, how about acid-free? What does this mean? Acid-free refers to a paper, produced from virtually any paper making material including wood, from which the active acid has been removed during manufacture. Here’s the next shock. Even though a paper may be acid-free immediately after manufacture, over time it may become acidic due to the presence of impurities in the paper or from pollutants in the air.

Seen the term “buffered” or “buffered paper”? This is a paper where an acid neutralising substance [an alkali] has been added to slow down the degradation of the paper caused by acid. A buffer may be added to acid-free paper.

Are you now asking, what can I use? More about that next time …..

Lorraine Finch, Accredited conservator




Being a woman in a “gentleman’s club”

It was just that I had the feeling the art scene belonged to the men, and that I was in some way invading their domain. Therefore the work was done and hidden away. I felt more comfortable hiding it. On the other hand, I destroyed nothing. I kept every fragment. – Louise Bourgeois, 1979

When I was twenty, a friend of my grandparents’ invited me for lunch at one of the members’ clubs on Pall Mall. Women were admitted to the club restaurant and other guest areas, but not everywhere in the club. On my way to the ladies’ room, I took a wrong turn and found myself in a richly appointed, high-ceilinged lounge – a sea of Chesterfields. The odd pool of lamp light glimmered over a bald or grey head buried in a broadsheet. I took a few bold strides into the room. One or two heads looked up from their reading. One old man cleared his throat and blinked. I sensed that I was in the wrong place, and beat a hasty retreat. It was only once I was outside that I read the brass plaque reading “gentlemen only”.

I’m not sure why this memory came back to me today. But I have been pondering the odd ways that gender roles and ambivalence can complicate our creativity, and this story has some resonance for me. Working in the film industry as a woman director has sometimes felt like my foray into the forbidden salons of a gentlemen’s club. My feeling is supported by widely publicised statistics – one survey last year put the percentage of female directors working on features at 5%; another estimate is as high as 9%. Either way, the proportion is unrepresentative of the population.

Unlike Louise Bourgeois, I have destroyed my work. I have trashed drawings, notebooks and whole films (including taped rushes – never film): all part of a complicated relationship I have with creativity, violence and destruction – one which began at an early age – and may have reflected a healthy doubt about my juvenilia. I have also hidden my work. I completely understand and empathise with Bourgeois’ words about the art scene and her reaction to it.

Gender biases and stereotypes are all the more insidious because we internalise them and turn them upon ourselves.

We don’t have to believe the words on the brass plaque.

So you want to go to film school in NYC?

Mythbusting: You need to be rich to go to film school.


But if you’re not, you need to be seriously tough, lucky and imprudent…. Here are some thoughts that may help you navigate this difficult but rewarding journey if you are considering film school in the States.

Graduate film school is a massive investment of time, money and emotion. But not only are there scholarships and bursaries out there to help you, there are also ways of subsidising even the most demanding courses via campus jobs woohoo! There are also loans to help you make up the shortfall. None of this is easy but it does mean that the MFA programmes are more accessible than people think – although they are not for the fainthearted.

Here are some questions I wish that I had asked myself when I jubilantly read my acceptance letter to Columbia’s MFA programme:

  • Can you really afford to spend 3-5 years accruing debt and no savings? Er probably not, but, what the hell! It probably won’t kill you… even if it isn’t what your accountant would advise.
  • Can you face the same wardrobe for that period of time? Seriously.
  • At Columbia, certainly (unless things have changed drastically), you will be footing the bill for 90% of your student projects and this does mean that your peers with access to extra $$$ will be in a better position to make flashy work. But this is not everything, remember: some of the best filmmakers in my year (and throughout film history) were broke.
  • Let’s not glorify poverty. How will you make sure you have what you need in order to thrive? It is really hard to be creative unless your basic needs are taken care of – food, privacy, health and security are really important.
  • Can you face coming out of graduate school burdened with debt? How long will it take you to pay it off and how do you propose to do so?
  • What will you do if your all important thesis film is not a passport to directing/producing/writing professionally? How do you plan to perservere?
  • Are the European schools more able to support and nurture their students financially with grants?
  • A big consideration for Europeans is the fact that the F-1 limits us to campus jobs, which will allow us to earn a fraction of what we can earn back home. So, make a relationship with a temping agency to work in vacations.

If I’d answered all these questions seriously in 2003, I probably would have stayed in London and carried on working. Yet despite the struggle, I am glad I went and braved it through the MFA programme: I came out with expertise, wonderful peers and a serious sense of filmmaking.

I only got through film school thanks to an incredible cocktail of other people’s faith in me, their kindness and my own grit. Figure out your recipe for survival and make it work. Most importantly, don’t give up.

Give Us This Day: Part 2

I am not ignorant of the baked goods on offer at London’s cornucopia of bakeries, but as far as the many chains – both great and small – go, I remain mostly unmoved. I would say however that several branches (and yes they can vary a little from branch to branch) of Le Pain Quotidien, do decent baguettes. They are my go to when I want this french type of bread. I also find their seeded, walnut and rye loaves acceptable.

Poilane’s various loaves are stocked at most branches of Waitrose and I do love their country loaf, their rye bread and their walnut breads. Still, there are times when I sense that those loaves have been sitting on the shelves at the supermarket for a tad too long…. and the whole point of yummy bread is that it should be fresh. If you pop into Poilane’s Elizabeth street (or any other) branch, be sure to buy some of their delicious little biscuits (punitions) and an apple tart which is to die for. But I digress….

Again, if you’re at a supermarket and in need of a loaf, I’d recommend Dr. Vogel’s breads as they do not contain any indigestible additives. I’m also a fan of the Food Doctor’s seeded pittas which are tasty, well priced and more nutritious than most pitta.

Give Us This Day: Part I

The discerning shopper has been on holiday. I apologise for the lull in my activities, but I have not been idle. I will soon be updating the blog with tips and images from Buenos Aires and beyond.

This first real post back is about that most essential of foods: bread. I’m not going to advocate particular kinds of bread over others; rather I am going to write about breads that are exemplars of their kind.

In terms of principles, I favour breads that contain only the simplest of ingredients, and are generally transparent about what’s gone into their making.

I’ve recently had the wonderful experience of Abu Noor pitta bread (white and brown) freshly baked, while in Bristol. It is fantastic and I thoroughly recommend it, if you can get your hands on it. Fluffy as if home baked and delicious. Bristol is also home to the famous Bertinet Bakery, and their white loaf really is the perfect example of honest English bread.

In London, I am very happy with my recent encounter with the somewhat expensive but very very good Fabrique bakery, in Hoxton. I suggest going early on a weekday to dodge the hipsters. My favourites are the rye and cranberry black bread and their toast shaped loaves of rye bread which are both truly outstanding. IMG_1997 I’m going to commit an East London heresy and say that their bread is far more delicious than those I have sampled at the very respectable E5 bakehouse in London fields. Apparently they supply bread to Fortnum’s so I’m not alone. Fabrique’s croissants are also delicious if not entirely authentic….

Here are some more pictures to illustrate my point. IMG_2006 IMG_2007

Carrying the Cannes

This is not a round-up of all the meetings I had, films I saw, or cards I collected while at my first Cannes Festival; rather it is a moment that I would like to take just to record how saddened I am by my vivid and direct experience of racial and ethnic tension in Provence-Alpes Maritimes. I was singled out to be stopped, searched, and ID-d at least once on every day of my stay.

I sat next to a French-Moroccan man on my flight back and asked him if things were that bad for him. He told me that he struggles to get a table at a restaurant, enter a night club, live a normal life and is routinely ID-d or searched – especially in the last six months. If Al Qaida wanted to ruin our dream of hybridity and tolerance, they’ve done a very good job. They’ve walked straight into the arms of every xenophobe and racist around, and given people an alibi for their prejudices. And genuinely, it is the diaspora who pay the long term price.

I used to be proud of my accentless French, but now I find people treat me with more respect if I speak with a heavy English accent like a rosbif – I guess at least that way they know I am a tourist. But that is cold comfort for French Arabs who want to lead normal lives.

About Bubbles

Bubbles is a short film about a child’s experience of witnessing domestic violence, starring international star Shabana Azmi. Set in London, it portrays life in the South Asian diaspora from a small girl’s perspective.

Written and directed by Nasheed Qamar Faruqi, the film also features Bhasker Patel, Dolly Ballea and Christopher Simpson. The little girl, Bubbles, is played by talented newcomer, Yasmeen Siddiqui.

The film was produced by Ashwin Desai, photographed and co-produced by Sam William Mitchell and edited by Yann Heckmann. Patricia Grigorescu did the Production Design.


Bubbles: Credits

Yasmeen Siddiqui in Bubbles


Cast in order of appearance

Yasmeen Siddiqui as Bubbles

Shabana Azmi as Nani

Bhasker Patel as Nana

Christopher Simpson as The Young Man

Dolly Ballea as Adult Bubbles

Sarandha Tyagi as Nani’s hands

Written & Directed by Nasheed Qamar Faruqi

Produced by Ashwin Anil Desai

Co-Producers Sam William Mitchell, Nasheed Qamar Faruqi, Shilpa Mankikar

Director of Photography Sam William Mitchell

Production Design by Patricia Grigorescu

Edited by Yann Heckmann

Make-up by Alexa Riva Ravina

Costumes by Nasheed Qamar Faruqi

Assistant Director – David Labi

Set Dresser – Victoria Visco

Gaffer – Theo Milford and Damian

Camera Assistant – Matt Choules

2nd Camera Assistant – Ollie Martin

2nd Unit Camera Assistants – Bob Pipe and Andrea Bellini

Location Sound – Mustafa Bal

Boom Operator – James Friend

Second Unit Location Sound – Dave Sohanpal

Tailoring by Shamraj, and Courtesy of Shabana Azmi and Bhasker Patel

BUBBLES a short film by Nasheed Qamar Faruqi, starring Shabana Azmi

Credits by Pierangelo Pirak

Sound Design by Gernot Fuhrmann

Stills Photographer – Sahil Lodha

Festival Coordinator – Shilpa Mankikar

Production Assistants – Namrata Goyal; Hugo Bronstein; Okianthos; Ollie

Ms. Azmi’s Assistant – Namrata Goyal

Ms. Siddiqui’s Chaperone and Tutor – Amina Gillani

Catering by Fresco, Westbourne Grove; Ashwin Anil Desai; Hugo Bronstein; Alyssa

Tisne and Sulma Yaneth Benavides

Cameras from Filmscape Media and Pixipixel

Lenses from Pixipixel

Lighting from Filmscape Media, Theo Milford and Sam William Mitchell

“Chaabi Kho Jai” by Laxmikant Pyarelal Performed by

Lata Mangeshkar and Shailendra Singh from the

Soundtrack of “Bobby” by Raj Kapoor (1973)

Courtesy of Saregama Ltd.

Footage from “Bobby” by Raj Kapoor (1973)

Starring Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia

Courtesy of R. K. Pictures Pvt.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or

dead, is purely coincidental.

© Bubbles, 2014

Special Thanks for Supporting our Kickstarter Campaign

To Hugo Bronstein; Nadia Fazal Jamil; Kiran Rao; Amina Gillani; Omar Fazal Jamil; Latitude CRS; Ram & Lalitha; Kanchan Desai; Dr. Saroj Auplish; Natalie Wulfing; Adeel Shafiqullah; Shakir Z. Karim; Shewaram; Yasser Phool; Bente Haulund Madsen; Catalina Bronstein & Adolfo Bronstein; Perland Properties Ltd; Katie Fiszman; Nasser Aslam; Arunkaka; Keith Varms; Rashmi Sirdeshpande; Radhika Piramal & Amanda Meade; Alex Peeters; Shakuntala Kalla and Nadia Fazal Jamil.

Thanks for Supporting our Kickstarter Campaign

To Pablo Bronstein & Leonardo Boix; Zahra Mani; Shama Goyal; Himani Gupta; Asma Mani; Julien Domercq; Norbert Morawetz; Sue Tripp; Surrinder and Sudesh Kumar; Amelia Power; Yashodhan Jambhle; Mariana Ziadeh; Richard Stephens; Nasreen Rehman; Pranav Nadkarni; Joshua Bernstein; Emily Grace Randall; Allison Cook; Pierangelo Pirak; Hattie Bowering; Ana Kamath; Mary P. Murphy; Rajan Parrikar; Jay Shah; Zain Masud; Mira Gratier; Buku Sarkar; Nikhil Shah; Saad Iqbal & Charlene Perilla; Rajan Patel and Freddy Foks.

For Patrick Chabal, 1951-2014

Bubbles… More about the cast


_MG_6119Shabana Azmi

An of icon of international cinema and leading actress of the Indian New Wave Movement (also known as “Parallel Cinema”) Shabana Azmi has appeared in over 120 Hindi films in a career spanning five decades, winning a record five National Film Awards and four Filmfare Awards for Best Actress. Shabana’s notable films include Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977); Shyam Benegal’s Nishant (1976), Junoon (1978), Susman (1987) and Antarnaad (1991); Mrinal Sen’s Khandar (1984), Genesis (1986), and Ek Din Achanak (1989); Gautam Ghose’s Paar; Aparna Sen’s Picnic (1989) and Sati (1989); Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth (1982); and Vinay Shukla’s Godmother (1999). Shabana also starred in John Schlesinger’s Madame Sousatzka (1988), Roland Joffe’s City of Joy (1992), Blake Edwards’s Son of the Pink Panther (1993) and Ismail Merchant’s In Custody (1993). Her recent films include Midnight’s Children (2012) and The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2013).


Yasmeen Siddiqui

Yasmeen Siddiqui was born in London and haslived in the UK and Dubai. She will be beginning senior school in 2015. Thisis Yasmeen’s first role in a film.


Bhasker Patel

Bhasker Patel was born in East Africa and lived in India and the UK. He is a regular in the cult UK serial Emmerdale. Bhasker has also appeared in a number of features including Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Kidulthood. Bhasker will be appearing in Oliver Stone’s forthcoming Snowden.

Christopher Simpson


Christopher Simpson is an actor with a wide ranging creative practice that includes writing, directing, mask and teaching. His work on screen includes White Teeth, Brick Lane and Spooks. On the stage, Christopher has played Pericles at the National Theatre.

Dolly Ballea

Dolly is a London based actress and model. She has appeared in episodes of Holby City, Midsummer Murders and Eastenders.

Bubbles, A Synopsis



Bubbles is a tense and atmospheric short film about a little girl who witnesses an act of horrible violence at home, and how it drives her to despair and obsession.


Living in London with her South Asian grandparents, Bubbles sits watching Hindi film songs on the TV. Around her, the family is stifled by an atmosphere of thinly veiled violence – a shouting grandfather; a grandmother (Nani, played by Shabana Azmi) obsessively chopping betel nut; an uncle washing obsessively. Uncle (Christopher Simpson) and grandfather (Bhasker Patel) are at each other’s throats. And in spite of Nani’s attempts to protect Bubbles, when this violence is unleashed, the child sees too much and her world changes forever.


Bubbles: Key Crew



Nasheed Qamar Faruqi (Writer & Director)

Nasheed is a London based filmmaker of Pakistani parentage, who’s made several short films and music videos. Before gaining her MFA in Filmmaking from Columbia University’s School of the Arts, Nasheed worked for Merchant Ivory Productions. She was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, where she read English. Nasheed is an Arts Council of England Fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme 2015/2016.

Website: http://www.nasheedqamarfaruqi.com

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2489922/?ref_=tt_ov_dr

Ashwin Anil Desai (Producer)

Ashwin Anil Desai works for Arise Pictures, a global film finance and production company with offices in London and Los Angeles. Ashwin holds a Masterʼs in Social Science from the University of Chicago, and an undergraduate degree in Politics and Economics from the London School of Economics, where he spent the majority of his waking hours directing and producing for the stage – from Rabindranath Tagoreʼs Red Oleanders and Brechtʼs Fear and Misery of the Third Reich to Ben Eltonʼs Gasping and the hit musical Guys and Dolls. In 2010, he wrote and directed a brand new, one-off musical, TIMELESS!, which played to an audience of over 1,500 at Sadlerʼs Wells Theatre, Islington.

Yann Heckmann (Editor)

A recent NFTS editing graduate, Yann has edited more than a dozen short films, with an emphasis on drama. Along with technical expertise, Yann boasts a profound grasp of dramatic narrative. His graduation film Manila Dreaming won the 2014 One World Media Student Award.

Website: http://www.itsacut.com

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3486942/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr6

Sam William Mitchell (Cinematographer)

Since graduating from the NFTS, Sam has worked on a range of commercials, promos and short films. He has also shot two features. His array of commercial clients include: Red Bull, Christie’s, the Tate, Monocle, Samsung, Moët and Chandon, Sony, Motorola and Google. Sam has a flair for narrative work and an ambition to continue working on dramatic features.

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1624002/

Gernot Fuhrmann (Sound Designer)

Since graduating from the NFTS, Gernot has done the sound design for more than forty features and television programmes, ranging from The Deep Blue Sea (Davies, 2011) to March of the Dinosaurs (Thompson, 2011). He has also worked on several award winning shorts. Gernot combines sharp technique with sensitivity and creative flair, bringing dramatic stories to life.

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2370539/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr10

Bubbles: Our Charity Partners

Asha Projects, UK Asha is a South Asian organization that works to end violence against women and girls. If you are experiencing violence – or know a woman who is – please contact them for confidential advice and information. They offer secure temporary accommodation. http://www.ashaprojects.org.uk

Awaaz, USA Formed in 2011 and based in San Antonio, Texas, Awaaz (meaning “voice” in Hindi and Urdu), is a non-profit organization that advocates peace, promotes healthy relationships and assists families to break the cycle of violence. Awaaz focuses its efforts on supplementing and complementing existing services and acting as a bridge between these services and the people who may need them. http://www.awaazsa.org

My Choices, India My Choices is an organisation based in India, that has been created to give women Choices: To allow women to live a life free from abuse. At My Choices our mission is to stop domestic violence by training and employing local women (PeaceMakers) who work within their community to create meaningful change in victims’ lives. We believe that domestic violence can be stopped by healing and reconciling families in a peaceful manner and will resort to further action only when such an option is no longer available. http://www.mychoices.asia

The Domestic Harmony Foundation, USA The Domestic Harmony Foundation (DHF) is a community-based, non-profit organization created in response to the social, emotional, and psychological needs of a growing South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Muslim community in Long Island. Although DHF works mainly with Muslim women who are victims of domestic violence, these services are available to individuals irrespective of creed, culture, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. http://www.dhfny.org

Mai Family Services, USA Mai Family Services was established in 1986 to provide assistance to Asian Indian families and individuals in need. Since it was formed, Mai Family Services has expanded to offer services to all South Asians in Michigan. http://www.maifs.org


Bubbles: My Director’s Statement

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).

Bubbles Still

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.

Wedding Dress

I had my wedding dress made by Elise Rodolphe on Boulevard Raspail in Paris. Her shop is called Au Fil D’Elise. Elise is lovely, as is her dressmaker Ander. Before starting her couture line, Elise collected and sold vintage clothes and fabrics, so there’s a real sense of history about her designs.

My dress was made to measure; I had three or four fittings, and Elise still has my toile should I want to have a replica made in the future (provided I defy the way of all flesh…). The dress itself is made of red Calais Lace with a red silk lining. (A picture of the dress itself will follow soon…)

Even if I include the three trips to Paris, the whole enterprise was excellent value compared to anything I could have found off the peg or had made with equal skill in London. Definitely a worthwhile adventure!

Elise has a range of dresses in her collection. All of them are very elegant and classic.


Thanks Mariam for the picture!

Citrus Fruit

Blood oranges, bergamot lemons and your more humble varieties: we are generally happy with our deliveries from riverford.co.uk – I would not say the same of their veg boxes which sometimes feel punishingly full of unappetising cabbages. We’ve also been underwhelmed by their clementines.

All the supermarket chains are hit and miss when it comes to citrus fruit. A good batch can be followed by a disappointing one in the space of days. I’d always suggest that you ignore the packaging and pay attention to the variety as well as the supplier and farmer behind the fruit you buy. This information can generally be found near the barcode, and once you find a batch that you enjoy, make a mental note of that supplier in anticipation of your next trip to the supermarket.

Alternatively, it might be worth developing a good relationship with your local grocer, if you have one. Zena on Moscow Road (now sadly closed) used to keep Sicilian blood oranges for me because I had an open dialogue with them about this winter highlight.

I’d like to remind you that citrus fruit is at its best in European winter, and that (November to February) is the time to enjoy it at its best if you live in London. Of course it is available out of season as well, but you can’t expect the same standards and sap from jet-lagged fruit.

If you live in the United States, or have family and friends there, I find that Harry and David’s wonderful boxes of navel oranges make a marvellous gift or selfish treats.


My vote – after copious trial and error – goes with Tisserand’s mild lavender soap bars. It is a good middle ground between the bog standard supermarket brands and the ridiculously expensive varieties. Apart from smelling lovely and being genuinely gentle and non-drying, these soaps are pleasant to use and have a good price point. Finally, Tisserand don’t use any artificial perfumes (which I hate) or SLS in their products, which is positive. I order mine on subscribe and save from Amazon.




Shall I write a hymn to Postcard Teas?

I would if I had a poetic bone in my body.

Instead I’ll just say that this calm little shop on Dering Street is a delight. And as long as I can afford it, I will devote myself to their Earl Grey and Bold Breakfast teas.

I’m not a snob about greasy spoon tea or PG Tips, but this is a different drink altogether and puts me in mind of how precious a commodity tea was in earlier times. And reassuringly enough, you can make a very satisfying cuppa from certain of the brews available here.

They also have a wonderful selection of accessories and green teas etc. I’ve never been a fan of green tea… But maybe one day, I’ll branch out.

The owner and staff are thoughtful and helpful too.

Hot Chocolate

There are a lot of nonsensical products out there, that promise a good hot chocolate.

Don’t do it.

And I’m not going to recommend taking out a mortgage so you can buy Valrhona or unicorn tears. Instead, I’m just going to recommend that you use Green and Black’s Cocoa powder (no sugar added).

I’ve used it for almost 12 years now, and it goes down well.

One spoon of Cocao and one spoon of lovely soft brown sugar for every cup of milk. Obviously, you need to make a paste before adding most of the milk but it’s not rocket science and barely more complicated than tipping boiling water into a sickly powdered milk drink.



Shepherds (who have branches on Gillingham Street and Curzon Street as well as Rochester Row) make the most attractive and best value diaries on the market in London.

They come in two sizes and each diary is covered in lovely hand made chiyogami paper and hand bound. At £24 and £30 a go, I think they blow their near competitors out of the water. In my mind, aesthetically, and in terms of quality, only something from Smythson’s or Pineider would really compare, but you can have one of these for a fraction of the price. And if you want to treat yourself, you can also get a matching pencil (I’ll write elsewhere about pencils) or some origami paper…. 


Bubbles: Press Links

Here is some of the coverage we’ve already had:

Elle India Name to Know May 21st, 2015

The Friday Times, April 24th-30th 2015 “What the Eye Doesn’t See” Maheen Pracha in Conversation with Writer-Director Nasheed Qamar Faruqi.

Ebuzz Interview, January 26th, 2015 (please note, there is currently a small error on this page. I wrote and directed Bubbles; Yann Heckmann is the editor).

Times of India, August 31st 2014

Contact us on jungleesaticloud.com to find materials for media professionals.


Picture Lock

We’ve locked picture on Outside/Bubbles. I have a strange empty feeling, that is only mitigated by anticipation for the sound mix and grade. It has been a long and rewarding journey to reach this point and I am so grateful to everyone I have worked with. So much to say, so many people to thank, so much further to go…..

My Father’s Son… or Memory Lane

Sorting through photos of our shoot in 2007, I thought I’d share some of my faves….

Tom Havelock, Christopher Simpson, Alex Sayhi and Nathalie Richard rehearsing (Photos Courtesy of Jane Burke)
Tom Havelock, Christopher Simpson, Alex Sayhi and Nathalie Richard rehearsing (Photos Courtesy of Jane Burke)
Nathalie and Chris study their scores
Tom shows us how its done – and it is revealed that Mme. Director does not hold a tune (that’s why actors are better).
“Yes, Monsieur Gendarme, we have a permit to shoot outside the prison (what prison?)”
Girl Power: DP Macha Kassian, Director Nasheed and Continuity Melanie D’Orange

Outside …. OR Bubbles

After an invigorating Kickstarter Campaign – which amazed me for the generosity and groundswell of support we garnered – we completed the shoot of my latest short film Outside (now called BUBBLES) last month. I am currently working with Editor Yann Heckmann to cut the film and am really excited about getting it out into the world as soon as possible. Here’s a still from the shoot. The movie is about a little girl (played by newcomer Yasmeen Siddiqui) witnessing a horrible act of domestic violence.

Shabana Azmi on the set of Outside  (Photo Courtesy of Sahil Lodha)
Shabana Azmi on the set of Outside (Photo Courtesy of Sahil Lodha)

Ten Years Later

Ten years later after the Iraq War began, I wake to hear Radio 4’s Today programme commemorate the event. I am shocked and appalled by the level of Orwellian newspeak inflicted on me. As if to disavow British involvement in the atrocity, they refer to an offensive started ‘by the United States and its allies‘. John Simpson’s reporting makes things a little better, with his human touch, but I can’t help but hear in his report an effort give us an upbeat image of what the prospects are for Iraqis ten years on: ‘The glass here is actually half full… time now to turn the page…’ Easy to say. I don’t share such disregard for the longevity of trauma and violence. Nor can I excuse the propagandistic attempts to distance ourselves from British involvement in this brutal war.


There are wounds that never heal; scars that are stubborn; memories that will not fade or be forgotten.

I have dreams which return: night after night, the same images.

God transformed Lot’s wife (did she have a name?) into a pillar of salt because she looked back. The unconscious is made of salt – buried, a crystalline past.