A short film released in 2004
In early 2003 – a twelve year old Pakistani boy crossed the Indo Pak border by mistake.
Jamal, a 12 year old Muslim Pakistani mistakenly crosses the border between India and Pakistan, finding an unusual ally in a Hindu Brahmin, Bhola. Indian soldiers descend on Bhola’s village searching for the ‘terrorist’ who crossed over. His niece, Rani, insists they can’t let a Muslim into their Hindu home. With Bhola and Rani grappling with the consequences of harbouring a Pakistani and their deep-set prejudice against Muslims, Jamal’s only hope is the humanity shared by a people separated by artificial boundaries a long time ago.
“From its tense beginning to its compelling conclusion Little Terrorist is an engaging well-paced story, full of tension and release at all the right places. I’d only planned to watch a few minutes but it drew me in! Keep your eye on Ashvin Kumar – a talented new voice.”
— MICHAEL WIESE filmmaker, publisher
Salim (Julfuqur) Ali was separated from his family at the age of seven. He was found under a fly-over, having spent a few days without food, by the Salaam Baalak Trust. Based on fragments of information provided by him, his family was found in a New Delhi slum, ending a three year search. Even so, Salim choose to continue living at the trust, where he was auditioned for the role of Jamal. Salim also bagged a role in Ashvin’s feature thriller The Forest. Now part of a professional dancer and theater troupe, Salim works in New Delhi.
In a bizarre parallel to the film’s story, the Kohinoor Laangar troupe, the wandering minstrels in the film, were arrested on suspicion of being illegal immigrants from Pakistan. It was the last day of shooting, the winter sun fast slipping away, the film-makers at their wits end as to how to finish the film. But finally strings were pulled and they were released.
That evening, in the atmospheric ruins of a medieval-fort, their music was recorded by sound-designer Roland Heap and became part of BAFTA nominated composer Nainita Desai’s score. What was a cost-saving impulse led to an unexpected fusion of Indian folk and western film score.
Trawling through my archives to prove to YouTube that I indeed own the copyright to my film (grrr!!) stumbled across the actual application form to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, that kicked-off this whole circus.