Damaged Movie Premier
By Paul McKenzie
Local Indian film making talent Kabir Singh, gifted son of Sydney Indian local community identities Lucky and Balbir Singh, has done the Australian film scene proud. He co-wrote alongside the mutli-award-winning film director and writer, Summer Bodhi Nicks as well as acted in a leading role in the highly anticipated Australian film, “Damaged” which is produced by an Australian production company “Long Road Productions” and directed by first time director Maha Wilson.
‘Damaged’ follows the endearing tale of a friendship that spans over 7 (actual) years, we follow Brendan (Nicholas Burton) as he journeys through India to find an old friend, Umer Rizvi (Kabir Singh), who he shared a prison cell with for a month in Australia.
The film is largely flashback based and shows audiences exactly how Brendan, the main protagonist, came to end up in prison after a string of events from his childhood. Ultimately, Brendan’s path is a result of becoming involved with the “wrong crowd”. “I would say that the film’s objective is to communicate to its viewers that you must embrace the cards you have been dealt, and use them to turn your life around. It deals with really-Australian themes like mateship and overcoming adversity, but I think the Western Sydney setting is something we don’t see a lot of in Australian films” says director Maha Wilson.
Through an inspiring story of comradeship, redemption and triumphant over adversary, Damaged is ultimately about the choices we make and the vastness of their effects.
It’s ‘Shawshank Redemption’ meets ‘Into the Wild’.
Maha Wilson spoke to online platform “Talk Acting” and expressed that the idea of staying on the right path and learning to stay away from the “wrong people” is something I really wanted younger people to take away. I wanted them to understand that there are alternatives to violence and drugs. These themes and this idea of reaching out to younger Australians is somewhat a rarity, I believe, on the Australian scene. The diversity of casting is also something I really wanted to push. The movie’s actors come from Australia, the Middle East, India, South Africa, Italy and generally all around the globe. It’s important to show a true reflection of our beautiful country.
Damaged has this unique blend of darkness and light and overall its message is really powerful; no matter what life throws at you, positivity can help you overcome it—and no, it’s not done in a cheesy way! Not to mention, a female is behind all this.
While the story of Damaged has taken twists and turns in the past four years; one thing remains the same—at its core it is a story about creating beauty from chaos, playing the cards you’re dealt and using positivity to turn your life around. It’s about making choices to better your life. I want to show young children that one wrong choice can have a domino effect on the rest of their lives: but ultimately you can turn this around!
Kabir and co writer Summer Bodhi Nicks are quickly climbing towards international success with their recent endeavour ‘Shambhala’ (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/tiff-jonathan-rhys-meyers-joins-822101) starring international Hollywood sensation Jonathan Rhys Meyers, in which Kabir also plays alongside Pallavi Sharda, Akshay Kumar, Devika Bhise and Sudhanshu Pandey. The Hollywood production, produced by the same team behind the recent success, ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’, which stars Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons, and the cold-war spy thriller, ‘Damascus Cover', also starring JRM and John Hurt, is set for production in Spiti Valley in October through to December this year. The team will then go on to write and direct two successive feature films, one entitled ‘Kiss Me Life’ and ‘Looking for a place called Home’.
What made you decide to get into film making with acting and writing?
I decided to pursue acting upon migrating to Australia as a young teenager. Acting was at first a vent – an experiment which turned in to a burning passion that took my pursuits around the world – from studying in New York’s prestigious Lee Strasburg’s Actor’s Studio to the Sydney Theatre Company and beyond..
Were you encouraged by your mother and father ?
Obviously our parents, whether we know it or not, have a large influence on our lives so ‘yes’, they have always encouraged me, even when they didn’t think they were. I’m eternally grateful to them for this and especially my sister Shaizy Singh who has always believed in me even when nobody else did.
What did you want to achieve out of the film ? Are you happy with its completion, success and achievement ?
Whenever I and Summer team up for a project, we want to portray a message that adds to the positive nature of the human conditions, we want to inspire, we want to tell a story, a good story and for it to be meaningful. Summer and I quoted Carlos Castaneda in our film ‘Kiss Me Life’ and it basically says, if it doesn’t have a heart, it is of no use. We stand by that. If it is of no good use to the world, then it should not be used. I think ‘Damaged’ itself has a positive and inspiring message for the world so ‘yes’, we are happy with the outcome.
Did living in suburbia Sydney help bring ideas to the film project ?
Each experience in our lives shape us and it is these experiences and inspirations that we draw from to impart the performances required to bring our characters alive and give them a sense of truth, so the audience believe them. I’ve always said that each experience, no matter where you are, that builds our inspirations.
Any more films planned in Sydney?
Yes, another feature film to look out for in which I play one of the lead role’s is called “One Less God”. It was shot in Sydney and Nepal and is directed and written by Lliam Worthington who is an Aussie. It is based on the Mumbai 26/11 attacks and it will be in a cinema near you in 2016.
Do you see this as foundation stones with Australia-India relations with film making, with local talent?
I wouldn’t like to pigeon hole and reduce our country’s relationship to it just being about entertainment, but hopefully ‘yes’. Media is a very powerful tool. I hope that it opens people’s perceptions the world over, that all people are essentially the same – we live, we repel pain, we move towards happiness, we love and want to be loved and yes, and ultimately, we all aspire enlightenment and release from suffering as a premise for a good life and by the virtue of being human, that we all deserve these things.
Actors Kabir Singh (as Umer) and Nicholas Burton (as Brendon) in movie “Damaged”.