An Original Screenplay
By Azeem Khan
Key Themes: screenplay, drama, fiction, bipolar disorder, psychiatry
Hidden Colours is a controversial drama screenplay tracing the life of Adam, a free-spirited young Asian man struggling with bi-polar disorder, who finally comes to terms with his mental illness.
Isolated and living alone in his council flat, having discarded his meds, Adam rapidly goes to pieces over the course of a few days, and has a massive nervous breakdown. The psychiatrist and social worker cannot help him in time, and Adam finds himself ‘sectioned’ under the Mental Health Act in a hospital.
Adam’s Asian Muslim family are ashamed of his mental illness, and try to keep it a secret from their other relatives. This is not helped by the fact that Adam’s father Ali is a Conservative councillor running for election locally, who even bribes a local journalist to keep his son’s secret safe.
Ali and his wife Ruby hire a ‘Pir’, or Muslim holy man, to try and cure Adam of his mental illness. It transpires that the ‘Pir’ and his Assistant are soon ‘exorcising’ Adam of his bi polar disorder with violent beatings, in a deserted house in South London. Adam, once again alone and terrified, has no escape, and nothing he can do to help himself.
Upon return to the psychiatric hospital, the nursing staff is shocked by Adam’s wounds, but neither father nor son speak a word about how these injuries came about. The police are drafted in and an investigation takes place, in which the ‘Pir’ and his Assistant are arrested and convicted. Meanwhile, Adam has made a recovery of sorts, due to the help of a friendly black nurse called Theo, who helps him in art therapy and music therapy in the hospital.
Three months later, Adam has totally recovered from his bi polar breakdown, having been discharged, and is on a speedboat cruise down the Thames with his family. He flirts outrageously with an attractive woman on the speedboat and discovers that she is not who she appears to be. She is in fact even ‘crazier’ than Adam was. Adam is left with the hollow feeling that this wild world contains few so-called “sane” people, and questions his place within it.
About the Author
Azeem Khan was born in Peshawar, Pakistan in 1965, and is the founder of Azko Films. He began his career as a copywriter and film director of TV commercials, after graduating from film school at Manchester Metropolitan University. Working with J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather in the Indian Subcontinent, he produced ads for Pepsi, Philips Whirlpool and over 30 other clients.
On return to the UK, Azeem worked in BBC Radio 4, producing a unique documentary portrait of Derek Beackon, the former BNP councillor, before producing and directing a range of television documentaries for the BBC and ITV. He was also a journalist, writing articles for the Asian Times and Eastern Eye.
Among his credits, he introduced Jeff Mirza, then the only British Asian stand up comic, to an ITV audience in Soft Target, in a do-or-die gig at Essex’s Circus Tavern. He made a biographical documentary on Cat Stevens, aka Yusuf Islam, also producing the music promo video to the artiste’s first single in 17 years away from pop music, which aired on MTV and GMTV. He also gained access into Pentonville Prison in Faith Inside, for an exclusive BBC2 documentary which investigated the unparalleled spread of Islam in the jail.
Post 9/11, Azeem worked for BBC2’s First Sight, in investigating key London Muslims and their links with the U.K. This resulted in a documentary film about Shazia Mirza, the hijab-wearing stand-up comic, for BBC2. In 2002 Azeem was runner up at Channel Four Television’s Sheffield Pitch Prize for Documentary.
Azeem directed a documentary about Gulgee, Pakistan’s leading artist, shortly afterwards.
In 2008, he wrote and directed ‘Open Secrets’, a semi-autobiographical drama about the stigma and shame of mental illness in an Asian family, starring Saeed Jaffrey and Valmike Rampersad. The film won the Best Film prize at the 6th Buffalo-San Black & Asian Film Festival, held at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton, London, in 2008, as well as having official selection at a number of other film festivals. In April 2009 Open Secrets was screened on the Community Channel on Sky and Virgin.
During 2010 Azeem wrote, produced and directed 5 short films: Crazy in Love: the Secret Life of Azeem, Lithium, Afghan Girl, Disorder, and Pakistani, British & Proud. All were screened at international film festivals, including Kinofilm Manchester European Short Film Festival, Leith Short Film Festival, and Tongues on Fire. His first novel, ‘The Nature of Flames,’ and his first feature length drama screenplay, ‘Hidden Colours’, are due to be published by Chipmunka.
INT. LOUNGE: ADAM’S DIGS - DAY
ADAM, a good-looking and intense British Asian in his early 20’s, stands peering into the LENS of a home video CAMCORDER. He holds the camera with his arm outstretched, lining up a SHOT of HIMSELF. Adam has the attributes of a geek, albeit with an inner tenacity, and wears a dirty-looking T-shirt and track suit bottoms, his feet bare. He has not shaved for three days, and looks tired.
He presses the red ‘record’ button, taking a SHOT of HIMSELF standing there, looking self-consciously into the lens. He then turns the CAMCORDER around and films his LOUNGE, recording his surroundings, as if for posterity.
Adam’s lounge looks like a horde of Eurasian wild boar live in it, and he probably cannot remember the last time he used the hoover. CDs of Oasis and Nirvana and Coldplay litter the carpet, along with plates of stale food from previous nights, and take away kebabs and empty bottles of whisky and vodka, and dozens of chucked away fag ends and crumpled up boxes of red Marlboro. An old analogue television sits in the corner, the picture flickers with some awful daytime TV programme, the sound on MUTE.
Adam places the CAMCORDER on the table, which is littered with gas and phone bills, letters from the Council, DWP letters, and months-old copies of The Independent, along with a Mayfair porn mag.
Suddenly, as if inspired, Adam INVERTS the CAMCORDER, whilst it’s still switched on, and peers through the VIEWFINDER at the hellish orangey-reddish image of the LOUNGE, the SOFA opposite UPSIDE DOWN. And now, in the VIEWFINDER, Adam magically sees an UPSIDE-DOWN IMAGE of an obese 22 stone WHITE WOMAN with glasses on the sofa...
Adam grins manically in reaction to this, and gives ‘the finger’ to his hallucinatory image of the fat White Woman in the viewfinder.
CUT TO: ADAM’S FANTASY:
INT. THEATRE/PODIUM - NIGHT
He is being presented with an award for ‘Best Film’ at SUNDANCE by none other than Francis Ford Coppola, on stage, the FLASHES of the photographer’s CAMERAS blinding. It is the happiest day in Adam’s life, and he grins inanely.
CUT BACK TO REALITY -
IN ADAM’S LOUNGE:
Adam needs a nicotine hit, so he lights another Marlboro Red and inhales, feeling so good inside, smiling in heaven, ecstasy smiles on his face, and the filter tip smells like expensive perfume, he can’t ever get enough. Marlboro Reds will see him through. He has a good sniff of the aroma from the Marlboro filter tips in the red and white box.
INT. BATHROOM: ADAM’S DIGS – DAY – SOON AFTERWARDS
Adam comes into the bathroom and sees his masterwork shine like a dream exhibit at the Tate Modern...
...All along the edge of his dirty BATHTUB are lined up the contents of his WALLET. Banknotes, credit cards, debit cards, Redbridge library card, DVLA driving licence, Pakistan Overseas Identity Card, Blockbusters card, receipts from shops, postage stamps, Ramblers Association card, Tesco clubcard, Nectar card, AA membership card. Oh, and of course, his British passport. It’s all there, partly in the bathtub and partly lined up on the edge of the tub.
His First Direct debit card is lying at the base of the water in the TOILET PAN. Adam surveys the scene, filming it all with his eyes, recording it in his mind for posterity.
It’s like a Charles Saatchi artwork. Even Tracey Emin would be proud of this. Adam’s breathing is shallow and fast, and he feels nervous. He realizes he has got to hold it together, and lights up another Marlboro.
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 03 March, 2011.