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North East director's film debut North East director's film debut.

Byline: Sonia Sharma Reporter

A TALENTED film director is hoping to take Bollywood by storm with his debut movie.

Shakirul Alam, who was born and brought up in Heaton, Newcastle, first started out as a pharmaceutical chemist, gaining a degree in the subject from Northumbria University.

However, he decided to give it all up and follow his dream of becoming a screenwriter and filmmaker.

The 28-year-old, who went to Ravenswood Primary and Heaton Manor School, started off by joining an acting academy, in London, founded by top Bollywood actor Anupam Kher.

At the end of the course he visited Mumbai and started to build contacts. He also received encouragement from Kher, who liked one of his scripts, and Shakirul started preproduction work on it.

In the meantime, he became friends with Gaurav Chowdhary, who was training to be an actor in Mumbai. He learned that his father was a classical musician who played the tabla instrument but struggled to make a name for himself.

Touched by the story, he decided to make a film based on the life of Gaurav's father, Attar Singh Chowdhary. The movie was titled Teen Taal (Three Rhythms) and filming was carried out, with Gaurav playing the role of his dad as well as himself in the present day.

Shakirul then set up his own production company and his friend Jahangir Jaz Ali, also of Newcastle, collaborated as executive producer.

The movie is now complete and will be premiered at the Tyneside Cinema on March 9 and 10. Talks are also ongoing with distributors in India and the team hope the film will be shown on 200 to 300 screens.

Shakirul, whose family run an Indian takeaway in Shiremoor, said: "This is a very exciting time for me. This is what I've always wanted to do.

"I remember writing scripts during chemistry lessons when I was younger. Even though I started working as a pharmaceutical chemist, filmmaking was what I was really passionate about.

"So I spoke to my parents and told them I wanted to go out and spend a few years on this journey, and see how far I would go.

"They were very supportive and I feel really happy now, having completed a movie that I have written, produced and directed, and I'm starring in it as well.

"It feels like I've achieved what I set out to do. This is however just the beginning of my journey. My aim is to make more films in Bollywood, Hollywood and also in England."

Shakirul aims to set up a production studio in Newcastle. He says he loves his home city and wants to stay close to his family and friends.


Newcastle director Shakirul Alam

A still from his film Teen Taal, showing Shakirul, left, and actor Gaurav Chowdhary

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 26, 2015
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