British-Pakistani Bus Driver Hopes His Phone-Shot Film Will Inspire Youth

British-Pakistani Bus Driver Hopes His Phone-Shot Film Will Inspire Youth
Asif Raja receives the Best Actor and Director awards for his phone-shot film ‘Ehsaas’. Khatana

British-Pakistani Bus Driver Hopes His Phone-Shot Film Will Inspire Youth

Manchester: A British-Pakistani bus driver, who now proudly calls himself an award-winning actor-director as well, hopes that his latest media-related achievement and hard work will encourage youngsters to come forward and take interest in the entertainment industry.

Asif Raja has already inspired many others by creating an award-winning, Bollywood-style (as dubbed by the British media) feature film using just his mobile phone.

Ehsaas (Urdu for feeling/realisation), his phone-shot flick, was filmed at various locations around Yorkshire, over an eight-day period, on a Samsung S8+ phone and with zero budget.

Some drone shots were also used in the film, with its post-production taking three months and a trailer launched July last year.

A resident of Huddersfield, Yorkshire, and a presenter at the Asian Music radio station, Raja said his film was received well by the audience and has bagged two local magazine awards for best director and best actor.

“I was recently interviewed by BBC Leeds [BBC Radio Leeds — a local radio service for the West Yorkshire county] and articles about my film were published in various news outlets. I am getting very good feedback.

“As a director and an actor, it has been a wonderful experience for me and I hope to take this further,” he said, adding that intends to produce bigger and better projects in future.

“I used local, British-Pakistani talent in the film … actors like Rafiq Butt, Abdul Shakoor, Khwaja Amjad, Tehmina, Kiran Khan, and Fareed Butt, [all of whom] are very talented.

“They are working on different projects but were never given proper chance to showcase their talent.

“Another actor in the film is Mehmood Sultan, who has worked in Pakistan and English films,” Raja explained. Sultan, 66, had his first big role in the movie Actor In Law, wherein he played a judge.

Raja now looks forward to releasing his unique film in Pakistan later this year.

“I am already working on some of my future projects.

“I want to work with artists of any age, gender, [and] from all communities and backgrounds to promote community cohesion as it will surely give opportunities to local artists to stage their talent”.

Written and directed by Raja himself, the romantic thriller is based on the story of online fraud and stock trading, and features a Bollywood-style song as well.

The film sticks true to its name — Ehsaas — and makes the audience root for the protagonist, who struggles to recover the money he loses due to a fraud.

Despite including a romantic side-plot — a mandatory element for every subcontinental film — the hero becomes the voice of justice and righteousness while the villain is on a power trip.

Owing to the zero budget, expenses incurred during post-production were supported by local businesses. Yet, Ehsaas has some amazing scenes that any Bollywood director would love to have.

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