Tirath Padam is the lead actor in the
Kenya-Danish film Subira which is scheduled to be released end
The film has
received the highest Kalasha nominations (13) and is a strong
contender for the Oscars 2019.
Premiere date is locked down on Friday, December 7th,
Here is an exclusive
interview of Tirath Padam and his experiences so far in the
Kenyan theatre and cinema platforms.
Interview: Subira (Tirath
When you read the
script of Subira what was it that made you do this movie?
heart, the soul of Subira’s story felt timeless and deeply
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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 ?
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
I can’t wait for you
all to see the film.