Follow us on: Twitter, Facebook RSS

Skip to main content

All in Good Time

Event Q&A Transcript

Question 1

What drew you to Ayub Khan-Din's script? (Nigel Cole)

There are lots of different types of films and I think that they are all great. I love action films, I love big comedies, I love animated films – I love them all. But I make a particular type of film that is kind of there to make you laugh and then in the second half to make you cry and for reason, and I have never been able to work out why, I like to do both. One of my favourite things is to sit in an audience and to hear the audience laugh and enjoy themselves and then when they are least expecting it to start to feel something, and feel something about these people and the story there are watching. I thought that this script was a rare example of a script that had both, it is funny. Was it funny? (Audience: yes.) Was it moving, did you feel something for these characters? (Audience: yes.) That’s what I am after – I want you to feel something. I don’t want you to sit there just saying ‘yeah, alright’. I want you to feel the fun of it and then I want you to feel the sadness of it. Finding scripts that have both of those things is quite hard so when I find one I grab onto it.

Question 2

How important was it for you for this film to a modern version of the original play with a British Asian family? (Nigel Cole)

This has a long history this play. It was originally a play in the West End in the 1960s so 50 years ago and it was set in a white, Northern, working class family in Lancashire and that became a film called The Family Way which was very famous in the 1960s, it has Hayley Mills who was a child star and this was her first grown up role and was very successful and then years later the National invited Ayub Khan-Din the writer to re-write it set in an Indian family. It was important to me and I think that it makes it more special and more interesting the fact that it has been reset in an Indian family but to me what is important was that the piece worked really well and I want to keep that and capture that and not screw it up really. I thought the play, whether that was the original play or the play that Ayub wrote for the National had a wonderful effect on the audience and I think what was important to me was to get that right and to make a new version that was equally good. And I think a lot of the time, I think before we starting making it I was worried about making a film about an Indian family because as you may have noticed I am not Indian and I thought what do I know about that culture or what it’s like to be part of an Indian family in the North of England but I soon stopped worrying about that because what is important about that film is that it is about a family and as long as you believe in the family and you believe in the relationships and we’ve all got dads, or miss our dads or wish we had dads – everyone has been through that and I think that was what was important to get right. And the cast and some of the crew helped me through some of the detail of Indian culture that perhaps I might not know and that turned out to be relatively easy. So what was important was getting a sense that this was a real family living in a real house and a real place.


Question 3

How did you approach the difficult relationship your character has with his father? (Reece Ritchie)

I mean the scene that I shot in the whole film was the argument scene between Atul and his dad downstairs in the middle of the night which as you saw was quite a long complex scene. I think there is a danger of over preparing something. Sometimes you have to just get on with it. We discussed quite a bit but I don’t think we overworked any rehearsal or discussion on what we were going to do with it. I think on the day it was quite fresh. So in terms of preparation I think reading the script because the writing was so good and obviously he wrote East is East and the material was there for us to play with and Harish [Patel] is just so funny. He is such a good actor and he is really good to act opposite as well.

Question 4

How did you two approach the intimate scenes in the film? (Reece Ritchie and Amara Karan)

Well, I felt like when you understand the whole story and characters and the whole piece altogether then I didn’t really worry about – I mean I worried about all the scenes equally and I just wanted to make the scenes make sense and have be great equally. So actually it was really wonderful because it was a very relaxed atmosphere on set. Everyone was so at ease and comfortable so I didn’t feel awkward at all really. I was just grateful to be coming in each day and working each scene regardless of what it was and trying to do the best I could and work with everybody as they were all really focused on the work. It was so professional that I felt comfortable.

We were just thrown together. It’s funny because as actors you never get much time to prepare things. We were just put together in a room for 4 or 5 days in a basement rehearsal room. Not just, the director was there as well… chaperoning. We had a laugh on set with the bed breaking and stuff like that because it just didn’t want to break and then collapsed just before we fell on it so there was lots of fun with stuff like that but its not as romantic as it looks. You know it looks all romantic and intimate because it seems like it is them in the bedroom but if you turn the camera round there are like 50 blokes with lights and cameras and all that. They put music on afterwards which makes it kind of dreamy but it is not like that on the day at all.

Question 5

Nigel has been described as an actor's director. Can you tell us a bit more about what that means and what Nigel is like to work with? (Reece Ritchie and Nigel Cole)

In terms of this term actor’s director which you hear some actors say and I think what actors mean by that is that there is a short hand when you’re on set because obviously its all about getting things done as efficiently as possible and as accurately as possible. Its important that you and your director know what one another is talking about. If I say to Nigel do you want this a bit more pacey and we don’t know what another means then you are wasting time and there’ll be confusion and anger on set. So in terms of Nigel he is an actor’s director because you can talk actors language to him and he’ll talk it back to you and everyone knows what they are doing. I think he’s definitely an actor’s director, with this kind of subject as well because there is emotional stuff and close up family drama…

I really like actors and its really funny how some people in the industry don’t seem to like them sometimes – they find them kind of annoying and think they get in the way. I think what people don’t understand unless… Put your hands up if you’ve done any acting before? It’s scary isn’t it? What did you find scary about it? (Audience – stage fright). Yeah and why would you be frightened? Because you think you might make a complete idiot of yourself and that people will be looking at you thinking they aren’t very good or making a fool of themselves. It’s embarrassing, it’s scary. When you look at people looking at photos of themselves when they come back from holiday or when someone shows you a photograph on their phone you see the agony people go through when they see what they look like. Actors have to do that all day long, they rely on that for their living and their income. It’s scary, difficult work and I am always incredibly grateful that I have talented people who are prepared to go through that agony and are prepared to risk embarrassing themselves. I just want to be there to help them and catch them if they fall and be grateful to them. I think there are very few people who understand how difficult and scary acting is others than those who do it. There are film directors who don’t really care about actors who would really rather just shoot cars or something but I don’t really understand that because those people on the screen, that is what it is all about.

Question 6

Why did you set the film in Bolton? (Nigel Cole)

It always was, way back in the original play. And what I think is important is that the house is one of the characters in the film isn’t it? It’s really important this house, they are stuck in this house and they can’t get away from his parents, they are on top of each other, the walls are thin and in the north of England, particularly in Lancashire and those areas they have those little tiny houses and long rows of terraces so that all felt quite important that it was that kind of place and that kind of house. And those backyards that you see quite a lot of – there is a tiny little backyard and then an alleyway and then another person’s backyard it just means that everybody can hear everything, everybody can see everything. I think it was really important to set it in a town where everybody knows everybody else’s business and in London that’s not true. There are so many of us in London, it is just a bit too anonymous.