Gary Tanner films tabla player Dalbir Singh Rattan
Image Source: BlueBell Films
Gary Tanner films tabla player Dalbir Singh Rattan
Chris Leggett

Member Article

Creative film tackles mental health taboos within South Asian community

A creative film exploring mental health within the South Asian community has been delivered by a Birmingham film production company as part of a campaign to challenge taboos.

BlueBell Films created Healing, a mix of evocative stylish images, music and poetry, to provide an attention-grabbing take on the sensitivities around discussing mental wellbeing for Warwickshire County Council.

The film was a creative response to a brief set to explore the issue with the South Asian community. It mixes stylish images of traditional South Asian culture with a poem outlining the community’s challenges including alienation, isolation and the often present desire for people to appear as strong “as a lion”.

The film’s release comes after BlueBell Films was nominated for five 2021 Royal Television Society Midlands Awards. Based in Vyse Street, in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, BlueBell Films bills itself as a “bespoke high quality production company” which makes “imaginative and emotive content” for clients.

Healing, released as part of World Mental Health Day (Sunday Oct 10), was based on extensive research by the BlueBell team, including interviews with members of the South Asian community.

Director Bhulla Beghal said the Warwickshire County Council brief had allowed BlueBell to explore important themes in their film. He said: “I’ve done many projects in the past which have elements of mental health, and the South Asian community, but this was the first time I could directly explore the two.

“I wanted to be creatively collaborative to stretch my wings as a director and work with other specialists in their field. I thought it would be great to work with a poet, so the workflow was experimental.

“I approached poet Jaspreet Kaur, who I saw perform at the 2019 Asian Women Festival in Birmingham and goes by the name Behind the Netra. She stood out to me when performing because she had a sweet, delicate, positive style which matches my filmmaking. I extracted snippets from the interviews I conducted, which she transformed into a poem to be visualised in the film.”

Bhulla worked with long-term collaborator Dr Karan Jutlla, the dementia lead for the University of Wolverhampton who specialises in mental health, dementia, cultural cohesion and the South Asian community. Dr Jutlla is also a trained contemporary dancer.

The BlueBell team included Bhulla’s sister Sajni Beghal, production coordinator Francesca Piccinin and director of photography Gary Tanner who worked extremely closely with Bhulla on developing the look of the film. BlueBell filmed in Camden Street Studios, a converted car showroom in the Jewellery Quarter.

The experimental film utilising dance and music by tabla player Dalbir Singh Rattan, the team created a story around the embroidery of the sari, which resulted in the final film.

Cllr Margaret Bell, portfolio holder for Adult Social Care and Health at Warwickshire County Council, said: “Asking for help shows great strength and courage. We want to encourage those who may be struggling with their mental health to reach out and seek support, and for those around them to be there to listen, without judgement.

“This creative short film ‘Healing’ was produced to highlight the importance of community support, and, along with the information available on the Dear Life website, show residents that they can get the help and advice they need, whilst breaking the taboos that are so often felt when talking about mental health in the process.

“You are not alone, there is help out there and we would encourage anyone struggling or in need of advice to reach out and use the support available to them.”

The film’s release comes after BlueBell Films was nominated in five categories for the 2021 Royal Television Society Midlands Awards for its film work for hospice charity Compton Care.

Bluebell submitted five entries and was nominated for every submission, including Digital Creativity, Short Form, Promotional Content, Craft – Production and Craft – Post-production.

Bhulla said: “We are immensely proud of the work we have produced for every client and the Compton Care project was one that meant a lot as it looked at the taboos around end of life planning within the South Asian community. BlueBell Films truly is a team effort so to be nominated for five awards speaks volumes about the efforts of everyone involved.”

The Royal Television Society Midlands winners will be announced in an online ceremony on 21 November.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Chris Leggett .

Our Partners

Top Ten Most Read