I’m half Indian, so I was always very anxious to reflect what I saw when I went up to Birmingham. I wrote a film called A Touch of Eastern Promise, because when I went there I realised there were loads and loads of Indian people, not probably as many as there are now, but nothing was being done about it, and there weren’t any writers. So Barry was script editor, because I said I wanted to write something, so I did and that was the first thing on British television ever to have an entirely Asian cast. So I felt very proud about that as well. But that also spun on to other things. Michael Abbensetts came and wrote Empire Road, which Peter [Ansorge] produced, and I do think that it was quite new then, but it was very, very apparent in Birmingham – it opened a door really. In a way it’s what Peter and I are still kicking at the same door of thirty years later. It’s a bit sad in a way. But it was rather good that we had that opportunity. So those sort of things I do feel quite proud of. I do think it kicked open a door.
(Excerpt from an interview with Tara Prem recorded in summer 2009 by Vanessa Jackson and Olivia Swinscoe from Birmingham City University).
A Touch of Eastern Promise was recorded in Balsall Heath Birmingham. Michael Lindsay-Hogg was the director, David Rose the producer, Barry Hanson the script editor, Tara Prem the writer. Mike Williams was the cameraman and Oliver White the film editor.
The cast included Dev Sagoo as Mohan, a young Indian boy who dreams of film stars, and in particular ‘Shalini’, who is coming to perform in Birmingham. Jamila Massey played Shalini, Zareen Kamal played Lata, K.S. Matharu played Balraj Kumari, and Charan Kaur Matharu – Mrs Kumari.
As a young design assistant who had been working as a designer for the Asian Immigrants Unit at Pebble Mill, and assisting Senior Designers on a variety of Dramas (including “Penda’s Fen”, I was delighted to be given the task of Designer for “A Touch of Eastern Promise”. It was my first job as a fully fledged Designer in TV. Such a rich subject to deal with. I loved working with Michael, Tara and Barry Hanson. (Whom I had worked with as his designer in the theatre.) We all knew that this was a special project and we all gave it everything we had. Good memories!!!
My Grandfather and Grandmother stared in this Movie (K.S Matharu & Charan Kaur Matharu) as the shop owners and I was lucky enough to see a copy of it last month, which was an amazing experience and a huge eye opener.
I also recognised several other stars of the movie who were not in the credits (2 of my uncles were playing cricket in the first few scenes as children and a few of my grandparents cousins from around Wolverhampton popped into the shop as extras too – fantastic look down memory lane).
I would be most appreciative if someone could let me know who I should get in contact with and how best to go about getting hold of what must have been a revolutionary TV short back in the 1970’s, and another opportunity to see both of my late grandparents in action again.
It was a fun short movie and very ahead of its time. A highly recommended watch for all.
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