DUBAI // An emotive film about family and love starring a new crop of Dubai-born-and-bred actors will hit the big screen next month.
Set in the UAE, Persiakkaran looks at the generation gap between the industrious, elderly Indians who made this country their home and their spendthrift offspring.
The bilingual film will be released in the Malayalam and Tamil languages.
Born and educated in Dubai, Adil Ibrahim plays a radio disc jockey in the South Indian film, which stars the well-known Malayalam actor, Mukesh, and is directed by an award-winning Indian director, Ashok R Nath.
“It came as a big surprise when I was selected in the auditions. I never thought I would play one of the leads,” said Ibrahim, 26, an alumni of New Indian Model School and an engineering graduate from Bits Pilani in Dubai.
Like 34 of the other faces from Dubai who have played small parts in theatre, short films and advertisements, this was his big feature-film break.
“It took me time to understand what the director wanted and I was slow to pick up stunts, emotional and song sequences,” Ibrahim said.
“The biggest challenge was how to get into character, understand camera positions. The film was about learning lessons quickly.”
Ibrahim was a DJ before setting up a production and media company in Dubai, and he is the face of youth in the film.
“The younger generation is more extravagant, throwing around credit cards and money without knowing their value,” he said.
“The movie shows how the older generation struggled for the sake of the family and how removed the younger generation is from this.”
Mukesh plays a wealthy industrialist who works for the poorer sections of society.
The director believes the film reflects the reality of many families who left southern India’s Kerala state for the UAE in the 1950s.
“This is a contemporary issue,” Nath said. “Each and every family in Kerala has at least one Persiakkaran. This is an old word and has nothing to do with Iran but was the name for anyone who took up a job in the Gulf. For them, the UAE is their home.
“The message I want to convey is that love and family are important and relationships should not depend on money. The story is based on three generations: the elderly who first moved here, the second are the middle-aged who struggled for their family, and the youth who only bother about themselves and their enjoyment.”
It is the fifth feature film for the director, who won an Indian film award for his debut, Sabhalam, in 2003, which looked at the ties that bind a married couple.
In auditions last June for his new venture, more than 250 people queued up, of which 80 were selected and 35 shortlisted.
Scenes were shot in Dubai Creek Park, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai Dolphinarium and in Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Sharjah in October last year.
“I wanted it to be real so I decided it was fine to select completely new faces,” Nath said.
“They needed some guidance and I had to explain to them how to show emotion but they caught on fast. They are good actors and have given brilliant performances.”
It was a dream come true for Sudhakshina Shivkumar, 20, who glimpsed elements of herself in the fiery young character she plays.
“I, too, speak my mind and have a bit of an attitude, so this made it easier to act,” said Shivkumar, a business studies graduate from Manipal University in Dubai and an alumna of Indian High School.
“Still, the whole movie was a challenge because every little thing was new. There were so many people on the set, the camera, the lights, people prompting you on your dialogue, everything was overwhelming.
“The movie has a strong storyline, songs and romance, so now we only hope people here and in India will relate to it.”