MY SON THE FANATIC is a contemporary love story set against a comic clash of generations and culture.
Parvez is a taxi-driving man of the world who loves all things English - especially the local prostitute Bettina. Schitz is a pleasure-seeking businessman visiting from Germany who has his own plans for Bettina. Minoo is Parvez's long-suffering wife and Farid is Parvez's seriously searching teen-aged son. Fundamentalism meets western hedonism over the kitchen table of an Asian family.
While Parvez works long hours for little money, his friend and fellow immigrant Fizzy has amassed a fortune as a restauranteur. Parvez's work as a taxi driver takes a different turn when he picks up Schitz one day from the airport and shows him the local town.
Parez’s son Farid is beginning to act strangely, dumping his white fiancée and selling his possessions. Meanwhile Schitz becomes a regular and demanding customer of Parvez and an equally demanding client of Bettina.
Parvez discovers that it is religion and not drugs that Farid has turned to and becomes increasingly estranged from his wife Minoo. His assumptions about the world are being turned upside down and in the midst of his turmoil he finds tenderness and love in the most unexpected place - with prostitute Bettina.
Farid tricks his father into offering hospitality to a religious Maulvi from Pakistan and then lets the exploitative Maulvi gradually take over their home.
Schitz also exploits Parvez's good nature - encouraging him to "start to enjoy himself." He asks Parvez to arrange a sex party for him and local businessmen with Bettina and her colleagues.
Meanwhile, the Maulvi and Farid's fanatical friends begin a campaign to rid the local streets of prostitutes. They taunt and threaten the girls and their customers. Parvez finds himself literally caught in the middle between his son and Bettina.
Father and son have a huge row. Farid leaves home and Minoo decides to return to India.
Parvez is left alone and without his family. What will the future hold for him and Bettina?

Director's Statement

MY SON THE FANATIC is the story of a man in a state of great crisis. As Parvez, our protagonist, becomes alienated from his family following his son's move into fundamentalist Islam, he finds himself falling in tone with Bettina, a prostitute. This is a move, as Parvez well knows, fraught with danger, particularly for someone who lives in, and is dependent to a very large extent on, the local Pakistani community.
Hanif Kureishi has written the story almost entirely from Parvez's point of view; we learn of events and decisions affecting the lives of the characters with Parvez. For me, therefore, the story is as much about Parvez's state of mind as about the things that befall him. Therefore the style of the film is guided by what is going on in his head. As, for example, he becomes increasingly estranged from his family and his home becomes a less welcoming place, the lighting and colours become colder.
With the arrival of the Maulvi, Parvez becomes a stranger in his own house and this is reflected in the way he is positioned awkwardly within the frame. Similarly, Parvez's size and position in the frame reflect his status as he is 'bought' and humiliated by Schitz. Also, as Parvez becomes increasingly confused by what is happening he is lit with less direct light whereas other characters within the same frame are lit normally.
The lighting, composition, colours and costume also reflect Parvez's view of the other characters; changing as his perception of them changes. Red is the most important colour in this film, both in its range of shades and in its total absence in certain sections. Mostly, the colour red, in differing shades, is associated with Bettina (rich and vibrant) and Minoo (dark, almost brown].

The treatment of the sound in the film follows exactly the same philosophy. It works hand in glove with the other elements, adding another layer by its careful and often subjective use.

Director's Biography

MY SON THE FANATIC is the second feature directed by Udayan Prasad. His first BROTHERS IN TROUBLE also starred Um Pari and was released by BBC Films in 1996.
He has also directed a number of films for television. FEMME FATALE for BBC Films [1992] starred Simon Callow and Gould Pleasence and HUHING LOTE starring Peter Bowles won a Golden Gate Rward for Best TU Feature at the San Francisco Festival [1993]. He also directed 102 Boulevard Haussmann starrinq Ran Bates which won a Golden Globe Award for Best TU Feature at the San Francisco Festival [1991) and was nominated for a GRETA as Best Single IU Drama [1991), THEY HEUER SLEPT (Screen Twol starring Edward Fee [19901 and HERE IS THE HEWS starring Richard E. Grant [19891.
Prasad came to the UK from India at the aqe of eine, and subsequently went to art school in Leeds and the National Film and Television School. After graduating, he male a number of documentaries, including 9 COMER Of R fOREIGH FIELO [Channel Fond, abgilt a Pakistani community in Britain, and !HUISIGLE IHK for Arena, an insight into authors from the sub-continent writing about the British way of life. lt was during work an this docurnentary that he came across the work of Rbdullah Nussein and his nouel The Return Journey, which inspired his film BROTHERS IN TROUBLE.
Prasad currently has a number of projects in deuelopment, including an adaptation of a tope de Um. nouel. LOST IH 0 MIAH011 set in 16th Century Italy written by Adrian Mitchell and produced by Stephen Garrett for Kudos Productions.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Udayan Prasad

Written by: Hanif Kureishi

Produced by: Chris Curling

Cinematography: Alan Almond

Editing: David Gamble

Production Design: Grenville Horner

Costume Design: Mary-Jane Reyner

Make-Up & Hair: Penny Smith

Original Score: Stephen Warbeck

Cast: Om Puri (Parvez), Gopi Desai (Minoo), Akbar Kurtha (Farid), Stellan Skarsgård (Schitz), Rachel Griffiths (Bettina)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 1997