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Coastweek -- A Kenyan- Danish Co-Production in conjunction with Kaaya Films - production stills from Subira Feature Film 2018 to be released in Mombasa on Friday, December 7th.
Kenyan Danish Co-Production Subira is
a Strong Contender for the Oscars 2019

Coastweek -- Tirath Padam is the lead actor in the Kenya-Danish film Subira which is scheduled to be released end November.

The film has received the highest Kalasha nominations (13) and is a strong contender for the Oscars 2019.

Subira’s Mombasa Premiere date is locked down on Friday, December 7th, 2018.

Here is an exclusive interview of Tirath Padam and his experiences so far in the Kenyan theatre and cinema platforms.

Interview: Subira (Tirath Padam)

When you read the script of Subira what was it that made you do this movie?

Originality and heart, the soul of Subira’s story felt timeless and deeply relatable.

It is a beautiful metaphor of the human condition and life that captured me from the first time Director Sippy Chadha narrated it to me.

I was captured by Subira’s little quest  for self-discovery, adventure and was immediately sold at the idea of being part of a film with a rich cultural and society bound context, it adds the perfect flavor to a simple and yet universally true story like Subira’s.

It felt very right and almost divine!

What was the audition process like and how did you make it to star in the movie?

I went on roughly 4 to 5 audition sessions before I bagged the role of Taufiq Jan Mohammed in Subira, the feature Film.

Each time I left the audition room filled with huge anxiety and my fingers crossed.

It has been my childhood dream to star in a film, and I really wanted this.

Speaking about a divine force again, I was very lucky, attending an acting workshop at the time and got scouted by a local Kenyan personality, Mr. Robert Agengo, who very casually connected me with director and writer Sippy Chadha.

The audition process was very personal and comfortable:  I found myself reaching into my own life experiences with my own father to be able to portray the character of Taufiq whose relation with his father is a major anchor in his story.

I also recall the day I met Vibeke Muasya , a Danish producer on the film, who instantly reminded me of the magic of acting when she said that I should treat the audition like “playing a game” and brought me to absolute ease and comfort.

The hope for the film was shining through both director and producer and felt anxiously exciting.

You played Robin Hood, with local theatre company Aperture Africa Productions recently, how different was that character compared to the one you are playing now ?

The difference is huge !

Playing Robin Hood on-stage was a physically demanding and challenging role where I had private sessions of training in combat, archery and vocal training all in preparation to play the outlawed hero who suffers a challenging background which moves him to becoming a bandit who serves a greater cause.

It almost felt like I was playing a part in an epic storyline and worked hard physically to be able to portray the cheeky, strong and witty character that Robin Hood was.

Taufiq in Subira on the other hand was emotionally, mentally stimulating and demanding!

It forced me to look within myself for true and honest emotions that I could portray realistically and delicately for the magic of cinema and film.

Taufiq felt very real to me, like a human being I could know and talk to, someone whose struggles I deeply felt and understood, in today’s day and time.

Trust me, it was a mental and emotional journey playing Taufiq and I shall remember it for the rest of my life.

Which one of the two characters would you like to play again, given that one was a play and the other is a movie ?

I would love to play Robin Hood once again, the thrill that came from playing that character was so enjoyable and fun, and it felt amazing every single time I zip-lined on to stage and met an excited and awe-filled audience, purely magical.

However, as I go forward in my career, I want to be able to play more characters like Taufiq where I step into an original character and make it my own with a deeply rooted emotional experience.

That’s where the flavour is.

I definitely want to do more film, and TV too.

Tell us about your character ?

So I play Taufiq Jan Mohammed in Subira, the feature film, who is the son of a wealthy and demanding father and struggles to find his voice under his father’s dominance.

He is a modern and young Kenyan-Indian man who works to further the family business and is introduced into the story for the purpose of an arranged marriage.

But he chooses love and instant attraction towards Subira, the star of the story, instead of a planned and organized marriage proposal against his father’s wishes which sets the platform for him to own his decisions and become a man of his own.

He is nonetheless very cultured and respectful with the common mannerisms of a young, educated Muslim man living in Nairobi today which makes his little rebellion in the grander story of an adventurous young Muslim woman the sweeter to watch.

Does the movie Subira in anyway hit home? 

It is a story rooted at home, from home.

It delicately showcases parts of Kenyan culture that may not be fully visible to a newcomer in Kenya.

It exposes the subtle nuances of Swahili life at the coast in Lamu cleverly put in contrast with the fast paced city life of Nairobi all shown to the audience through the raw and relatable characters in the film.

Furthermore, it exposes the Kenyan-Indian and possibly interracial cultures and which very true and regular to a Kenyan-Indian like myself.

That’s the other fantastic thing about the film, it felt just like home and I couldn’t help but fall in love with it so much.

What other projects are you currently working on ?

I am currently back on stage working on Aperture Africa’s new musical extravaganza: Cinderella the musical in which I play Prince Topher, the charming love interest to Cinderella.

It is something I am very excited about.

I have also been recently cast in an amateur community theatre production with Karengata Amateur Dramatics Society (KADS) who have this time taken up the bold venture of producing a favourite Broadway hit musical !

My character is full of fire and a different challenge which I am thrilled to start working on ! Dance !

How would you describe yourself ?

Too serious for my age, sometimes melancholic and always excited, or maybe too excited, about life in general.

A lover of coffee, music and meaningful conversations with human beings.

I am now really taking the time to take care of my overall wellness in terms of body health and mental health and love the finer things in life all too well.

Was acting your first love, how did you start ?

Stories, stories being told was my first love, and yes acting is a very big part of telling stories.

So yes, acting was my first love, from the age of 4 years old with home video evidence of me dancing away to classic Bollywood songs and cleverly copying all the small actions and mannerisms of the actors I love to watch as a child.

That’s where is begun, as a young boy , dreaming and imagining myself into a world away from my own reality but that felt very real and true to me.

My high school, Saint Mary’s School Nairobi, as an institution, really helped me understand and solidify my love for acting and performance.

There were so many avenues for me to be truly myself, amid many struggles and learning curves that helped me exercise and explore the actor within me.

Apart from acting what else do you do ?

I love writing; it is something I am looking forward to devoting my time and life to in the near future.

I am also a trained hair stylist and hair consultant and have been working my hours for the past three years cutting, colouring and styling hair for many!

I drive around Nairobi A LOT! If that counts.

The Crew, the Cinematographer, and the Producer are from Denmark and the Director is Kenyan-Indian. What was it like for you to work in a co-production ?

It was a constant delicate balance of efforts that the team worked towards gracefully and with passion.

The director and writer Sippy Chadha was very sure and clear of her vision which made it very easy for everyone to be on board with her.

Her passion was immense, and the Danish members of the film, who are highly experienced workers in the industry of film helped to transform that immense passion into a memorable shooting experience.

The cinematographer Talib Rasmussen was particularly an absolute joy to work with; I loved the thrill and silent but almost spiritual communication we had going on throughout the shooting experience.

He captured my performance and has brought me to life in ways I’ve never imagined.

A great deal of credit goes to his skilled and delicate camera work.

Working on the production also felt and remains to feel truly international and interconnected which is something I pinch myself about every single day.

I can’t wait for you all to see the film.

Remember: you read it first at coastweek.com !


 

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