This film is part of Free

Surviving Sabu

A budding gay filmmaker clashes with his conservative Muslim father as they work on a film about iconic Indian star Sabu

Drama 1997 16 mins


Funded by the Arts Council of England as part of its Moving Image series of films about ethnic identity in Britain, Ian Iqbal Rashid's debut short deservedly won him various industry accolades upon its release. Its sympathetic depiction of a strained relationship between a budding gay filmmaker and his conservative Muslim father as they collaborate on a film about Indian star Sabu - best known for his contribution to British cinema in the 1930s and 40s - is steered by exceptional performances from Suresh Oberoi and Navin Chowdry.

Generational conflict lies at the heart of the tension: armed with the arrogance of youth and an air of intellectual superiority, Amin seeks to expose his father's idol as a colonial pawn who became the unwitting victim of Hollywood exploitation. Sadru despairs of his son's lack of respect, and struggles to come to terms with Amin's sexuality and lifestyle. The ensuing drama is refracted through images of Sabu in glorious Technicolor, freeze-framed forever in his youthful prime, in marked contrast to the monochrome reality of his fall from grace.