This Brampton Filmmaker’s Short Film Tells a Coming of Old Age Story Through Food

Published May 25, 2019 at 5:30 am

Getting old is something that affects all of us. Now a director from Brampton has made an award-winning short film about what it’s like to accept old age in the diverse culture of the city.

Getting old is something that affects all of us. Now a director from Brampton has made an award-winning short film about what it’s like to accept old age in the diverse culture of the city.

Forbidden Tikka Masala is a comedic/dramatic short film created by Brampton filmmaker Rahul Chaturvedi. The film takes place in Brampton and is “a coming-of-old-age story that follows a devoutly religious vegetarian who finds a new lease on life after mistakenly eating chicken at her retirement party.”

The film features Canadian Screen Awards nominated Balinder Johal staring as Gayatri, a very religious vegetarian Indian woman who mistakenly eats chicken at her retirement party. She is thrown into disarray when she can’t get the taste out of her mind.

On top of adjusting to her new retired life, Gayatri struggles to find her place in her family’s hectic schedule. Resolving herself to her new cravings, Gayatri’s search for the chicken recipe takes her on an adventure that will forever change her.

Director Rahul Chaturvedi came up with the idea for the film through his own experiences growing up in Brampton.

“I was inspired to write Forbidden Tikka Masala after witnessing the struggles of ageing women in the South Asian diaspora trying to adjust to the fast-paced and often fragmented life in a new culture and the loneliness this brings,” said Chaturvedi.

“In my hometown of Brampton, an area with a large South Asian population, I’ve witnessed the struggles that ageing immigrant women face as they enter a new stage of life. Having grown up in a strictly vegetarian family, I had always been fascinated by the story idea of a devout vegetarian person trying a taboo recipe and realizing that they enjoy it. The merging of these two thoughts prompted me to write a story where a retired immigrant lady finds strength and liberation in the unlikeliest of places – a chicken recipe.”

The short film has made the rounds at many prestigious film festivals, most recently including the New York Indian Film Festival. When asked about his reaction to screening his film at the festival Chaturvedi was very excited.

“For our scrappy little film to play along with some amazing films is amazing, to begin with,” said Chaturvedi. “The entire experience was unreal, and I was able to meet many people that inspired my film making.”

Some of the movies that inspired Chaturvedi’s film making include Apocalypse Now and Singing in the Rain.

“The great thing about film making is when I’m making films I understand my favourite films and scenes a lot better,” said Chaturvedi. “These days I’m watching a lot of Indian filmmakers as well.”

So far, the film has won two awards at the Toronto Short Film Festival including Best Comedy Short and Audience Choice. Chaturvedi isn’t a stranger to accomplishments, as he has already won the Toronto Reel Asian’s Pitch Competition in 2016 and was selected one of ReelWorld Festival’s Emerging 20 filmmakers in 2017.

When asked about what message he wants the audience to take from the film, Chaturvedi says he wants to inspire people of all ages to try new things.

“I made the film to appeal to both generations, boomers and millennials,” said Chaturvedi. “When it comes to my parent’s generation I feel that after a certain age women stop feeling that they can have new passions. I deliberately made a character that had just retired and felt her life had stopped in order to show what it’s like to break one’s own boundaries.”

Forbidden Tikka Masala’s next film festival screening will be at the Houston Asian American Pacific Islander Film Festival (HAAPIFest).

Photos courtesy of the Forbidden Tikka Masala team

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