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Mumbai Love Story

Isabel Sadurni

Set in the aftermath of the 2008 attacks, this fictional narrative film, MUMBAI LOVE STORY (working title) tells the story of KHALIL, a tough, ambitious Muslim street orphan on the verge of adolescence, who lives and works in the sprawling outskirts of modern-day Mumbai. In this chaotic adult world, young Khalil struggles to make a better life for himself and his younger brother, SAMIR. One morning when bicycling to their jobs in the factory, they take a short-cut through a Hindu neighborhood an

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"If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children."                      --Mohandas Gandhi

The film's objective is to tell a story that will act as a catalyst to entertain, inform and add to the larger dialogue surrounding Muslim-Hindu, Muslim-US and Islamic-global tensions, and to translate historical conflict into humanist love story accessible to a broad and diverse audience.

Although there are many films addressing the Muslim-Hindu conflict, they are usually restricted to adult points of view. MUMBAI LOVE STORY activates a child's perspective to make the story unique, relatable and accessible to the under 25 market. We are positioning the film to serve the U.S. as a primary target, though the youth market of India, representing over 50% of India's 1.21 billion population seems an obvious home for the film. We welcome the opportunity to introduce the project to a possible funding or production partner as well as individuals relating to the Islamophobia and inter-faith conflicts.  

Facts behind the story include reports such as a Columbia University survey, which found that seven percent of public school-going Muslim children are physically beaten up. The survey also found that 28 percent had been stopped by police. This attitude towards the faith of 1.5 billion people worldwide is destructive in any culture.

Producer, Isabel Sadurni from New York, in the U.S.A  and Producer, Hari Mina Bala form Mumbai, are proud to actively collaborate in telling a story that balances real-life Muslim-Hindu hostilities with an authentic evocation of childhood where the young protagonists come to represent agents of peace and tolerance.

MUMBAI LOVE STORY has received the support of a New York Foundation for the Arts Opportunity Grant as well as letters of interest for screening and distribution from The Asia Society, New York and U.C. Berkeley's Center of South Asia Studies Educational Outreach Program.  Producer, Dinaz Stafford (Vanity Fair, The Namesake) and Director of Salaam Baalak Trust and screenwriter Sooni Taraporavela (The Namesake, Salaam Bombay!) have agreed to serve as consultants to the project (read our wonderful letters of support at www.isabelsadurni.com). Judy E. Menon, Assistant Director of the Consulate General of India and Cynthia F. Johnson, Cultural Liaison for the U.S. Department of State have shown interest in inviting the film to serve as a vehicle for dialogue within diplomatic circles.    

Funding will provide crucial travel, research and development funding to develop the script in collaboration with local Mumbai children of Salaam Baalak Trust. While in Mumbai, we will also speak with local South Asian industry representatives, crucial to advancing the film through final phases of script development and into production.  We will take every advantage to build bridges with local community leaders, companies, incentives programs, crew, equipment facility houses to enable a fully financed production that represents a collaboration between US and South Asia in every sense.

We believe the emotionally engaging characters and visual storytelling with an underlying message of love overcoming religious intolerance in MUMBAI LOVE STORY fills a need for an entertaining vehicle for dialogue confronting the destructive forces of the Muslim-Hindu conflict and Islamophobia.

The film, told through the eyes of a child suggests both a perspective free from prejudice and a resilience that we believe will inspire both children and adults alike.

Phase I :Research, script development in collaboration with children of South Mumbai.

An invitation from Dinaz Stafford, Co-Founding Trustee of Salaam Baalak Trust, filmmaker, psychologist and long-time collaborator of Mira Nair  supports my creation of this project throughout. (see letter of collaboration in Gallery).

In developing the screenplay, I will lead a month-long filmmaking workshop at SBT. The workshop, called YOU AND ME will draw from the Mumbai street children’s real life-experiences and serve a platform for (re)imagining relationships between the children and their peers, neighbors and environment. Micro-films (30 secs or less) by participants will be screened as a community celebration and will be available on-line.The children will serve as models for the screenplay’s characters.

 My ability to embed myself with the children at SBT, to listen to their personal stories, dreams, fears and fantasies will allow me to better empathize with their perspectives, to better understand local issues and to represent the children’s lives with authenticity and compassion. It will ensure that the characters in MUMBAI LOVE STORY are not caricatures or stereotypes of Muslims or Hindus and will allow for complexities to reveal themselves, complexities that Westerners can relate to.

 In keeping with SBT’s mission of developing a holistic environment in which the children can empower themselves and integrate into society as productive citizens, the children in the workshop will learn technical skills in filmmaking and photography as well as gain confidence and positive identity formation through the filmmaking as an artistic vehicle for self-expression.