With the permission of the filmmakers, I am delighted and honoured that British South Asians in film is able to premiere Isher Sahota’s wonderful short film, The Saint Of Southall (2020), a magical-realist parable about the power of faith.
Written and directed by Sahota, based on a short story by Israel Zangwill. Aleena and Rohit, played by Mona Goodwin and Small Axe: Red, White And Blue’s Assad Zaman, are a young couple living in a shared house in Southall, West London. Living with Kulwinder (Kulwant Sahota), her wheelchair bound grandson Amar (Jahan Anand) and Tejinder (Bhasker Patel), amongst others, it’s Tejinder who believes he has seen a divine apparition whilst out on a walk. Coinciding with the religious festival Vaisakhi, upon hearing about the vision Kulwinder is adamant that the resonance of the sighting on such a holy day will heal her grandson. But has there simply been a misunderstanding?
The Saint Of Southall is beautifully shot, captures a community and town in an extraordinary way - almost like a dream - and I adored Goodwin and Zaman’s performances. There’s a real intensity to the characters of Aleena and Rohit, as if you’ve joined them at a crossroads, with their relationship drawing you in. As a fan of the Harwant Bains's penned Wild West (1992), I must admit to also geeking out over Bhasker Patel returning in a film where Southall is very much a part of the narrative, strikingly depicting the South Asian community living there and celebrating their identity.
Since watching Sahota’s short film, Jinn (2017), in early December, I was incredibly excited to catch the trailer to The Saint Of Southall afterwards - wanting to know what else the director had written. Jinn, which is also available to watch online, and The Saint Of Southall work wonderful well watched together and I’m very proud to be able to support Sahota in having his film premiere on the site.