“The film is intense and in some parts, you will find comedy"
Dark, daring, decisive, and delightful best describe the independent film, Doorman (2021), headed by a dynamic team from India, the UK and beyond.
Made in the times of Brexit, Doorman is a story of a Black man who struggles for his legal right to reside in the UK.
Whilst his Mrs and child are stuck in a French refugee camp, the film also touches on the stories of other immigrants.
In addition, the film focuses on the Windrush scandal. The principal filming of Doorman took place in London, UK.
The distinctive aspect about Doorman is that it features a cast reflecting diversity with links to several countries. These include India, Africa, Italy, the UK, and France. The film stars good local actors from the capital.
A festival release was not an option for the film, with the COVID-19 pandemic kicking in.
Hence, the filmmakers opted for a digital release on Amazon Prime, particularly to give the film a wider reach.
A Property Investor reviewing the film on Amazon Prime positively highlighted the lead actor and the narrative, writing:
“A brave and captivating performance by Tayo and the team. The story needed to be told.”
DESIblitz exclusively caught up with Team Doorman during the London shoot of the film, with exclusive thoughts from the director, producers and cast members.
Acclaimed actor and screenwriter Pradhuman Singh made his directorial debut with the indie film Doorman.
In charge of affairs, Pradhuman said the film went as per schedule, with a “prolific team” working under him.
In reply to a question about why directing, he told us that it was an inevitable smooth transition. He also spoke about how he came to team up with Rahat and the process.
“It came natural after writing, should I direct a film. I met Rahat…and he told me this incredible story, which he eventually directed.
“And I loved It and that’s how we became friends and we decided we must collaborate. So he said, ‘you should normally write and also direct.’
“And I said, ‘if I want to make my first film as a director, I want to do it with people equally passionate.’
“So, I wrote the story and the screenplay. I pitched it to Rahat. Rahat really liked it. And so I said, ‘OK let’s go’.”
Despite admitting he was a little nervous, Pradhuman gave credit to the entire team. This he says made “life easier” for him.
Prahudman says working with all the actors was enjoyable, especially with him being an actor himself. He also felt by taking the director’s chair, he had the chance to let the cast naturally shine:
“It’s very fascinating for me, as for how directors direct their actors more than anything else.
“You know to bring out performance. And a lot of times I would think, if I was playing this particular character, I would play it differently. I would have done this and that.
“And the whole idea of finding conviction, helping the actor to understand the character mood is very satisfying. It’s exciting for me.
“Seeing these characters that you’ve written and performed in front of your eyes you get overwhelmed.
“It’s like… I’m the director and the audience and I’m seeing it happening unfold right in front of me.”
He states with resource limitations, being more “dynamic” and “on the edge” was also exciting. Pradhuman went on to tell us that his favourite scenes came at the start and finish:
“[It’s] where the main character Obi is starting his journey. And in some sense, would also be ending the journey in the film.
“But it’s going into a greater journey of happiness. I think… both those scenes are incredible… because they captivate what I wanted to talk about.”
He mentions that he first discovered his creative talent when performing school theatre in 12th grade. He voices that it is during that time he came to meet filmmaker Abhishek Sharma.
According to Pradhuman, after doing a workshop and theatre with him, the two had the chance to work together.
This was for the cult classic film, Tere Bin Laden (2010) also featuring Pakistani star-singer, Ali Zafar.
Contrary to his surname, he is not of a Punjabi, but in fact a Rajput background. Having said that, he learnt the language at a school in Patiala.
Watch an Exclusive Interview with Pradhuman Singh here:
Tayo Oyekoya plays the lead role of Obi in the film. He is a hard-working person who delivers parcels. Obi arrives in the country eight years before Brexit.
He apparently does not get his visa after falsifying his documents. His family is based in a French refugee camp.
This is the second time Tayo is featuring in a film involving Rahat Kazmi, after starring in the unreleased Just 13.
Tayo told us that the link to Brexit is what attracted him to this film:
“It was an interesting story. The whole idea of, immigrants coming into the country. The character’s journey, how he learns to deal with the trials and tribulations of assimilating into society.
“You know, getting a job, a place to live and sending money to his family abroad.”
Whilst it was challenging, Tayo felt he was able to connect with the struggles of his character. Additionally, this role was very different to what he had done previously.
Being very fond of his character, Tayo says:
“I liked the guy as well because he’s very calm, relaxed individual. He’s a martial artist.”
“So, he’s very capable physically, but because of his situation, he’s very relaxed and avoids getting into trouble and flies below the radar.
“But once or twice, he’s forced to lose his temper, to deal with certain unpleasant characters and situations.”
Tayo is a real-life martial artist as well. So, combining acting in this film was a real honour for him. He enjoyed working with the whole team, especially on a professional level. He considers Rahat as a very good friend.
Having worked with the producers before, Tayo reveals that he had a very short auditioning process.
Jitendra Rai and Joanna Finata
Besides being a co-producer of the film, Jitendra Rai of Rian Rai Productions has a pivotal role in the film.
Jitendra says it was during the shoot of 2 Band Radio (2019) that filmmaker Rahat Kazmi had a conversation with him about Doorman:
He discloses more about his official character, Manav Rai in the film, saying:
“I am playing a character of an immigration officer, which is a good interesting character. It has a good graph.
“That guy is an immigrant himself. But someone picked him up and he goes to a rank where now he is playing an immigration officer.”
He mentions in the film, he is responsible for a “coveted operation” during the Brexit period. Despite his character’s background, he is somewhat of an opportunist:
“He takes up this task very seriously because he was an immigrant. And now he wants to be part of this British society.
“So, his own aim is that somehow be accepted here [England].”
However, according to Jitendra, by having an “Indian identity….he cannot be part of this society.” Despite setting up his own production company, he sees his future as an “actor”.
Joanna Finata is an Italian born actress who portrays the role of Georgia in the film, Doorman. Interestingly her character is also Italian as she opens up more about it:
“She’s a quiet broken character because she’s trying to get her son back who now lives with her ex-husband. And she’s trying to do her best to get him back. But she is going about it the wrong way.”
She got the role, after knowing from Tayo that the producers were “looking for some actors.”
According to Joanna, Tayo sent her showreel to the producers, who then had a “long conversation” with the actress.
Joanna told us following a meeting with the filmmakers and also talking to them she really liked the character. Hence, this is how she became part of the film.
Joanna is a former student at Film School in Italy as well having undertaken studies in the UK and the USA. She went from dancing to acting which has become a “passion” for her.
Award-winning filmmaker, Rahat Kazmi is one of the prime producers for Doorman. He also plays the character of Waseem from Pakistan who is desperate for British citizenship.
Portraying a taxi driver, he has a very personal and emotional touch to his role. Rahat expresses more about his interesting character, stating:
“He’s a sharp a shrewd guy. There’s a dialogue for him when there’s his introduction scene.
“When the other character says, ‘if there is death or him, you should choose death instead of this guy,’ because he’s like a mess. But at the same time, this guy has an emotional journey.”
Rahat adds that Waseem ties the knot with a woman for citizenship as in he gets into a “contractual marriage.”
However, he says, despite falling in love with his wife, the feeling is not mutual. Rahat points out this is because his wife knows that Waseem only decides to marry her for “greed.”
Parallel to this, Rahat mentions the Italian character of Georgia (Joanna Finata) who is Waseem’s boss. In the film, there is a scene of Waseem driving Georgia to meet her family.
Rahat told us, they connect with each other on the journey, especially as both express feelings about their personal lives. Rahat sums up the scenario of his character in relation to a wider sense:
“It’s more about, how, in search for a better future from Asian countries…we lose our present.”
Similar to other roles, Rahat said he made preparations for his character by working on “observations.” Citing the example of playing a Pakistani cab driver in this film, Rahat said:
“I would go and see how the cab drivers behave and how they feel. And I would talk to them.”
He also explains the inner element and learning to prepare from others:
“I think it should come from inside. So, like I have worked with, some legendary actors, like Raghubir Yadav and Saurabh Shukla. I use to meet Naseer Saab as well.
“I was always very curious to know how they prepare their characters because they are so perfect in their characters.
“So, I remember Raghubir Yadav telling me that ‘I keep reading that script multiple times… like I read a novel.’
“So when you read it like five, six or 1ten times, then you start seeing that character. It’s kind of a process to get into the skin of that character.”
Rahat has a good track record of producing films, alongside Tariq Khan and Zeba Sajid, with many of their movies travelling to worldwide film festivals.
Rahat claims the directors that he works with have complete autonomy. Though, he acknowledges his interest lies more in the script:
“I am quite involved in the script unless the script is complete and casting is complete. Then, when it goes to the floor, there’s no work for me. So, then I can work on another script.”
Thus, Rahat conveys, “we are all very open-minded people” consisting of a selected group of people.”
Similarly, Rahat states that he and the other producers had all faith and trust in Pradhuman for Doorman, giving the “reigns in his hands.”
Though, Rahat points out particular shoot footage each day was up for discussion between the filmmakers and the director. This was more to identify any gaps or improvements.
Rahat and the core collective group hope to make more good films in the future, which reflect their slogan:
“Local stories for the world.”
With a global creative team, Rahat’s dream to grow further is a reality. Rahat and his team are clear on the platforms they can reach – be it through distribution routes or online streaming services.
Watch an Exclusive Interview with Rahat Kazmi here:
Tariq Khan is one of the major producers of Doorman, along with acting in the film.
His character Tariq is of an ordinary man who works in the meat sector. He has a close relationship with the main protagonist. Tariq reveals more:
“In this film, there is the character of a butcher. I am playing that. The butcher has a friend from the Black community (Obi). He has a close attachment to him.
“The butcher visits Obi’s house as well and helps him with his problems.”
Tariq said with the film having a Brexit topic, a particular group of people will connect to it:
“It has relevance to individuals who come from outside of the UK and working in England. This also applies to people from the Pakistani and Indian communities whether they work or run a business.”
Whilst the genre of the film is drama, Tariq says it is a bit of a mix bag:
“The film is intense and in some parts, you will find comedy and jokes. The film shows the life of a normal person.:
Tariq also tells us that every character he plays has a connection with his “heart”. In other words he plays each and every role with the same spirit and soul.
In addition, Tariq points out that every filmmkaker tries to make a good film, with Doorman being no different.
He says a filmmaker wants his film to reach the audience, adding:
“It is then up to the audience to decide what they think of the film and whether they like it or not.”
Tariq confirms that they have several other projects in the pipeline, featuring Bollywood stars. He also mentions film shootings will carry on taking place in Kashmir as he is from that region.
Furthermore, Tariq states that he will continue to produce films, as well as act in them when the opportunity arises.
Rocky Jaiswal and Ritu Rajput
Rocky Jaiswal has an important responsibility with this film as his production company Far Better Films is a co-producer of the film.
He also plays a small role in the film, but one of significance. He divulges a little with a riddle:
“The part I am playing is kind of significant. It was a friend who actually once a friend to our protagonist and then not really.”
“So it’s kind of the times that you know change the effects our protagonist faces.”
In reply to a question about how his involvement came about with this film, Rocky said:
“With Rahat, we have produced another movie called Lines. So, we have come together, and we are going to produce a lot more movies.
Being part of “a group of companies”, this is how Rocky became involved with what he describes as a “beautiful concept.”
Ritu Rajput who initially had no plans for acting eventually came into this field after doing some modelling.
From auditioning in Side A & Side B (2018) to making her debut in Code Blue (2019), Ritu spoke to us about her character in Doorman:
“I am playing a mute girl. She enjoys her life, she parties, she goes around, she’s having friends.”
Ritu went on to talk about what she had learnt from Pradhuman Singh:
“I had learnt a lot from him. I always look up to him.”
She also mentions, he was instrumental in giving her key advice about character building and making an “emotional graph.”
Zeba Sajid is one of the key producers of Doorman, along with being responsible for costume design.
She says prior to any overseas shoot, all the planning is done ahead of their trip:
“We do the pre-production work very well before reaching any places.”
She also said that with co-producer Jitendra Rai being in London that itself was a huge asset. This was with respect to addressing any challenges or problems.
Zeba told us despite the budget of the film being in between, the emphasis was on the idea itself:
“We try to work on the concept basically. The concept should be very strong enough.
“And If it is good enough, the film, whether it’s a small budget film or a big film, it definitely is going to work.”
Viewers will have to watch the film and decide for themselves if the film has substance or not. Though Zeba does allude to the fact that it is a film, catering to a “western audience.”
Even though she has over fifteen years of costume designing experience, for Zeba, it was a natural transition to become a producer:
“Basically I am from a film background. My uncle himself has been a very big known Bollywood producer. So, that is basically in blood.
“So, I always wanted to be a producer, but I thought let me start something of my own… Let me get into designing first and then gradually get into it.”
Her producer uncle is Salim who has made over a dozen Bollywood films as a producer.
Zeba confirms that with the film being the “baby” of Pradhuman Singh, she was following the director’s call as per the overall look in terms of costume designing.
Viewers will have to watch the film to appreciate the dazzling performances and deep messages behind it. The 1 hr 22 minutes feature film is in English, Hindi and Punjabi.
Doorman is available to watch via popular streaming site, Amazon Prime Video here: