Shakila Taranum Maan
Filmmaker | Artist | Activist
Shakila is an award-winning
British Director, based in West London
“As a British Asian filmmaker and artist, it’s a privilege to traverse two worlds. The challenge of constantly having to reinvent myself has meant that I am forced to confront my creative output which constantly helps me to question what I am producing and that it is exactly what I want to do”
Shakila is the first British Asian woman to produce an independent feature film in the UK. She produced The Winter of Love in 2001 which was shot on location in Southall, London. The film opened the Raindance East Film Festival.
Shakila won the Best Art Film at the Asolo Film Festival, in 2000 for her arts documentary Alone Together, a 30-minute documentary on the British artists Rabinder and Amrit Kaur Singh, examining the Mughal style of painting that the two artists work in whilst exploring contemporary British themes such as ‘O’ Come All Ye Re-eds’ which is a portrait of Liverpool football club. Shot on 16mm, the film is distributed by the Arts Council of England.
Her graduation film Ferdous (Paradise) (1990) was picked up by Frameline Distributors in San Francisco, and widely screened in North America, UK, France and Australia. This innovative short film, shot on Super 8, explores the powerful themes of ‘deviant’ sexuality in Islam.
Shakila Taranum Maan has been at the forefront in creating radical and avant-garde British Asian theatre since the late 70s. She set up her first theatre company Sahar Arts in 1978 where she wrote and directed a number of plays including Rani (1979) a Pakistani prostitute who makes it in suburbia and Spirits (1981) a doomed relationship between a young Brit Asian girl and a Rastafarian. She established Southall Asian and African Caribbean Arts Collective 1982, now known as Heritage Ceramics, and went on to study film at the London College of Printing.
As a writer and director, her work includes the cutting-edge collaboration on Bhavani Bhavai (1999 – Watermans Art Centre) with the creation of the character of ‘A woman in Southall’, performed and filmed on Southall Broadway. Bhavani Bhavai tells the story of untouchables and was inspired by a traditional Gujarati folk tale. In 2004, Shakila created and performed The Bride exploring the draconian immigration laws governing spouses entering the UK, when as victims of domestic violence women face destitution due to no recourse to public funds.
Performed under the banner of ‘Made in England’ with Parv Bancil’s company, Firebrand at The Contact Centre in Manchester, The Bride was received with acclaim and violent reactions with some audience members offended by the portrayal of a battered and bloodied Asian woman. Shakila’s other productions as writer and director for theatre include Not Just An Asian Babe (1997), a play exploring prostitution, religion, bi-sexuality, community and business politics, all set in a seedy night club and an abattoir. All Gods Angels (1998) is an intense and feisty monologue of a British Asian prostitute and her personal relationship with God that ends in tragedy in a London bed-sit. Not Just An Asian Babe and All Gods Angels were co-written with Parminder Sekhon and produced by Hardial Rai at Watermans Art Centre.
Her films include A Thousand Borrowed Eyes (1995) on Kathak dancer Nahid Siddiqui. In 2008, Shakila completed Zakhmẻ Dil (A Scarred Heart) for Save The Children Birmingham – Positive Press, a docu/drama on refugee young unaccompanied adults, telling their stories of treacherous journey of survival.
Shakila’s recent project commissioned by Sadler’s Wells ‘Mirror Within’ features Nahid Siddiqui, the renowned Kathak dancer.