film
Boys Will Beeba Boys

Director Deepa Mehta and actor Randeep Hooda chat about their new movie Beeba Boys

Posted: 09.10.15

In stark contrast to her previous female centric movies, Deepa Mehta’s latest offering is a homage to the boys - The Beeba Boys. Based on real incidents it gives an insight into Indo-Canadian gang warfare, a crime that exists but is rarely reported. The film stars Randeep Hooda as gang leader Jeet Johar whose aim is to take over the Vancouver drugs and arms scene from the competition, the older and longer-serving king pin Robbie Grewal (Gulshan Grover.) Sleek, sharp and stylish, the movie challenges stereotypes of Sikh, Punjabi men and with its bold masala mix of violence juxtaposed against family life, it is an entertaining fast-paced thriller. The film had its European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, where me managed to nab Deepa and Randeep for a few words…

Beeba Boys is the first gangster movie to be made by a female Film Director in 40 years…what made you choose this as a project and what did the female touch bring to the genre?

Deepa: I had no affiliation to the genre but when I heard the story of these actual true characters of 2nd and 3rd generation Punjabis I was fascinated. These guys had no affiliation to gangs in the homeland, unlike the Mafia which has roots in Sicily – this was completely independent – with Indian men using the gangster lifestyle to make a statement. I have always loved the films of 1960’s Japanese Director Suzuki and later films like The Godfather but my own concerns were more about gangs connected with immigration and assimilation. I wanted to make a film that was a dramatic film about gangsters and not a gangster film that was dramatic.

Randeep: I don’t know if you know this…but Deepa is actually a real gangster! I have had many gangster stories sent to me, usually they involve a couple of guys fighting over a woman and gang banger stuff with gooey ketchup blood but this film is different as Deepa has brought the family into it.

Being based on real events, should this film be viewed as entertainment or did you plan for it to have a wider message?

Randeep: Movies are ultimately entertainment and within that if you can get a point across while having a joy ride and emotional ride, then great, but it’s not a preachy lecture film - it has a lot of humour in it.

Deepa: I feel the same this isn’t standing on a soap box and giving a message, message films are boring but if a film can take you on a dramatic ride, whether it’s through entertainment, drama or through a love story and at the end of it, it can make you think, then that’s the icing on the cake.

We need to talk about style…it’s a seriously stylish movie in terms of costume…


 

Deepa: When Jeet says ‘if you want to be seen you need to commit to being seen’ it’s not only what you do in your actions to gain respect you also have to look the part. There was two ways, the stereotypical black gangster trackpants or the casino route with silk shirts but I thought why not give them their own style. The Beeba Boys are like meteors in the sky that flash by and then they’re gone and in that flash they need to be seen.

Randeep: I was shocked when I saw those short pants I kept saying to Deepa ‘ how am I mean’t to feel tough wearing this stuff?’ but I saw the point. It’s not just style but also Punjabi culture which is very colourful even the women with their suits and bangles it’s a colourful mindset. To get into character I walked around Toronto in a blue suit and I’d go to the cinema and people would say funny suit but then they’d be ‘wow man where did you get it from?’. I almost feel like the costumes are ahead of their time, more 2017 than 2015.

Where will this film sit in your careers?
Deepa: For me personally I can’t look at it objectively for another couple of years it’s still too close to me. In many ways even though I’m starting on a new project I know that it’s a watershed moment for me, perhaps this film is the most important film of my career – I don’t know where it’s going to take me but it’s definitely important.

Randeep: It’s definitely a great step for me I have crossed the Atlantic and gone to North America to work – seen their work ethic the way they approach things, even getting the accent right. It was a step away from what I do back home. I’m very happy and proud that I did it, how it will shape up in my career graph or history only time will tell but this is an experience I cherish, my summer in Canada.

Beeba Boys directed by Deepa Mehta is showing at The BFI London Film Festival on Thursday 8th and Saturday 10th October 2015. For more details and to book tickets visit www.bfi.org.uk/lff. It is on general release from 16th October.

See our review of Beeba Boys here

Momtaz Begum-Hossain
 

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