Honour directed by Shan Khan, is a film about a family who enlist bounty hunter (Paddy Constantine) to kill their daughter. The family sets Constantine on Mona (Aiysha Hart) for rejecting the traditions of her conservative parents by running away with her lover.
First time director Shan Khan and first time actor Shubham Saraf, attended the 14th Belfast Film Festival to present Honour to audiences and answer some questions.
The most important question posed was about honour killing itself. We asked Khan and Saraf if the hiring of a contract killer is a realistic premise in modern Britain? The answer, yes, and it will cost you £8,000. Both Khan and Saraf spoke of the research they conducted in order to execute their roles on this project. Khan who wrote and directed Honour, investigated the reality of engaging a contract killer; “Asian families are now hiring your local…extremist to kill their sons and daughters….that’s multicultural Britain. That’s the perverse symbiosis where the interfaces of our cultures…where one culture hires another culture to kill its own children. That’s modern Britain…. It absolutely true, this is now what’s happening, right down to the facts, it’ll cost you £8,00….”
Shubham Saraf who plays Mona’s younger brother Adel, spoke to us about the impossibility of attempting to get into the mindset of someone who is prepared to commit, or organise an honour killing; “I thought it was kind of impossible, however hard you try to get into the mindset of someone who can actually pick up a knife, or strangle, or shoot their next of kin, you know someone that they’ve grown up with and love. So what I did was just try to focus on the scene and just play what happens in the scene.” Apart from this challenge, Saraf spoke about his own personal challenge in acting in his screen debut. For Saraf it was saying lines: “I turned up the first day and I couldn’t stop quivering. The first day of the whole shoot was my biggest dialogue scene… so I had to jump when no one was looking and take really deep breathes, and then eventually, over the course of the whole shoot, I felt myself relaxing…and growing into the role, that was the greatest reward.”
Shan Khan’s father owned a video shop and so Khan has grown up surrounded by film, this is what drove him to want to give British Asians a cool film. Khan had always wanted to make a film with the issue of honour killing at its core, but said that it was the reality of contract killers being employed to kill family members that made a thriller on the subject viable. With regards to the film’s reception by the British Asian community, Khan admits that it’s early days; “If one is completely honest it’s a very Liberal audience that’s seen it thus far, so in that regard, even with that it’s been well received, but I think once the film gets out into the ghettos…then we’ll tell…and if isn’t then you can come and visit my grave.”
Commenting on how difficult it was to get the film made, Khan said he was pleasantly surprised that even in the midst of the recession, with a subject matter like honour killings, and with a first time director, he was able to raise the 2.5 million, though he admits sacrifices were made. For example he warns against describing your film to financiers as a genre thriller. It was Khan’s experience that as soon as he mentioned that word thriller, it was latched onto and the concept was boiled down until it was a thriller. If he could go back, Khan admits, he would do this differently.
In terms of his film featuring in this year’s festival, Khan emphasised how important film festivals are for films like his. He grew up attending festivals and appreciates how festivals take films like Honour to film loving audiences; “You rely on them to spread word of mouth for a film like mine, I’m not Captain America: The Winter Soldier or anything like that, so we can’t open in 400 screens. So film festivals give us a platform where we can certainly air our goods”.
Here’s our interview with director Shan Khan:
and with actor Shubham Saraf:
For more videos with directors, actors and guests of the festival visit our youtube page: