Riz Ahmed to create ‘Englistan’ a BBC British Pakistani Drama

Riz Ahmed has written a BBC Two drama revolving around a British Pakistani family. Called ‘Englistan’, the drama uncovers themes of identity and integration.

Riz Ahmed stars in 'Englistan' a BBC British Pakistani Drama

"Englistan is the story of the birth of multicultural Britain as seen from the inside"

Popular actor and rapper Riz Ahmed has teamed up with BBC Two for a nine-part drama that centres around the daily lives of British Asians.

The series, called Englistan, will follow three generations of the Latif family.

Each episode will feature parents, Jamal and Fatima Latif, their three kids Ashraf, Asim and Razia, and their three grandchildren Zahed, Ayesha and Naseem.

The series is Riz’s first self-penned TV drama.

Set over a number of decades, the drama hopes to reveal a new and ‘untold story’ of Britain through the eyes of this Pakistani family.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Ahmed explains: “Englistan is an untold British story with universal themes and resonance.”

The purpose of the series is to uncover the immigrant perspective of daily British life, that many ethnic minorities living in the UK will be all too familiar with, even for those born and raised in the country.

As a Pakistani Muslim family, the Latif’s will experience the rise of modern-day British multiculturalism. They will endure periods of political uncertainty, religious intolerance and economic challenges that emerge throughout the years.

BBC Drama controller Piers Wenger tells Hollywood Reporter:

“Set against the familiar backdrop of the late 20th century but from a point of view which feels entirely new, Englistan is the story of the birth of multicultural Britain as seen from the inside.

“We are honoured to be working with Riz on this epic, deeply personal story.”

The drama will also hone in on the disparity that seems to exist between English and ethnic identity, and what it means to be one, the other, or even both in the UK today.

Riz adds:

“It’s the story I always wanted to tell, and it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to do so.”

“I’m excited to be working with [BBC Studios executive producer] Esther Springer and all the team at BBC Studios,” he says.

The Rogue One actor is no stranger to speaking out about issues of representation on the big screen. But he is also a keen activist when it comes to showing solidarity with ethnic minorities in Britain.

Interestingly, the star of HBO’s The Night Of released a mixtape, also titled Englistan which explores themes of mixed heritage and national identity.

More recently, in the midst of immigration issues at the heart of Brexit talks and also the Windrush scandal, this feeling of belonging or not belonging has never been more relevant for members of the BAME community.

What’s more, with race and identity becoming progressively topical, British Asian dramas and storylines are also more visible at the BBC.

If Adil Ray’s Citizen Khan, Adeel Akhtar‘s Murdered By My Father and Guz Khan’s Man Like Mobeen are anything to go by, it appears that the BBC is increasingly eager to diversify their TV content.

Englistan appears to be yet another example of how different ethnic groups struggle to integrate with English culture, and it promises to be insightful viewing for both Riz Ahmed fans and the wider TV population.

Ahmed will next be seen in the Marvel film, Venom, which releases in October 2018.

Aisha is an editor and a creative writer. Her passions include music, theatre, art and reading. Her motto is “Life is too short, so eat dessert first!”

Image courtesy of Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

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