The director of a new British-Hindi movie was stumped this week after its storyline about cricket match fixing played out on the world stage – for real.
Assad Raja was ”totally baffled” by the comparisons between the Pakistan betting scandal and his new flick, ‘Pusher’.
The movie, which stars Bollywood beauty Mahima Chaudry, tells the story of match fixing during the 1999 cricket World Cup.
But in a bizarre twist, the same storyline allegedly unfolded earlier this month when Pakistani players were accused of spot-fixing.
Reports claimed the fast bowler Wahab Riaz received £10,000 in cash from an undercover reporter. Three of his teammates were also quizzed.
Yesterday Raja said: ”The co-incidence is spooky. I was amazed when the spot-fixing allegations came to light – they surfaced during the same week as Pusher was launched.
‘The stroyline was based on real allegations about the conduct of the Pakistani team in th eactual 1999 World Cup Final, where the team collapsed mid match.’
According to critics, Pusher has been hailed as the film that will change the face of British cinema forever.
Based on the Danish cult classic of the same name, the movie has been described as a “hard-edged, urban crime film that pulls no punches” in its depiction of drug dealing within and around the Asian community.
It tells the story of Salim (Raja), a small-time drug dealer in London, and the various deals he makes with the capital’s underworld, and with illegal bookies during the cricket World Cup.
According to reviewers, it is ”more frenetic than Slumdog Millionaire” and is “a mold-breaking new direction for Hindi-language cinema in the UK”.
Despite a budget of less than £500,000 – a fraction of the cost of Hollywood movies – the storyline attracted attention from a number of high-profile stars including Mahima Chaudhry.
Actor-writer-director Assad Raja hit upon the idea of making the film – told over seven days – following his own frustrations as an actor in the UK.
He said: “As a British Asian, I found it extremely difficult to get a decent role in British films, TV shows and even on the stage. I kept finding that most roles were extremely stereotyped and limited to such things as ‘corner shop keepers’ or ‘token Asian family’ in a predominantly white-dominated soap.
“I wanted to challenge this by making a gritty British film that just so happens to be in Hindi. Making something very realistic in terms of character behaviour as well as the violence was very important for me as nothing like this has been done in Indian or so-called Bollywood cinema ever before.
“Pusher isn’t just for Hindi-speakers, it’s made for mainstream audiences to watch with their popcorn and coke in their laps. The feedback I’ve had from test screenings has borne this out.”
Pusher hits the big screens across the UK on October 15. Go to: www.pushermovie.com