Abdul Hafiz has always loved the movies.
Now the 60-year-old pharmacist and father of three from Huddersfield has put his money where his heart is and co-written and produced his very own feature film.
Raagni, which translates as ‘Melody’, is a 90-minute musical romance that also considers the dark influences of radicalisation.
In that respect it sits outside the standard Bollywood product and hints at Abdul’s fascination with the output of American filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese.
But it’s not Abdul’s first brush with the movies.
“I did a movie about 15 years ago called Ek Chhotisi Love Story, which was a big hit in India. I’ve always loved films and I’m particularly influenced by The Godfather and people such as Scorsese and Tarantino.
“Some scenes in the new film relate to Tarantino or Scorsese, especially the violence. Another inspiration is Scarface, with Al Pacino.”
Abdul took more inspiration from Bob Fosse’s 1972 classic Cabaret, in which Liza Minnelli performs songs against a backdrop of Nazi thuggery.
Abdul is keen to present his production as a film rooted very much in the present, and with relevances to the modern world.
It focuses on Amber (Zoha Rahman), a violinist who joins a music academy in London where she meets fellow student Armaan (Shakeel Akhtar). But Armaan’s older brother Rizwan (Diljohn Sidu) disapproves of his brother’s vocation and of music, which he considers “haram” (forbidden).
Rizwan is also seething with fury over the fate of detainees in Guantanamo Bay. Thus the scene is set for a confrontation that reflects current concerns over radicalisation.
Directed by Latif Quereshi, Raagni was shot in London and is primarily in English which, says Abdul, may be tricky when the film is distributed abroad.
“My ambitions are to get the film screened throughout the UK. I’m then looking at India and Pakistan. There may be a small problem there as it’s mainly in English.
“We are looking at the UK release in February or March next year and I very much want to play the film in Huddersfield. If there is only one screening in the country it will be here. It’s my home town.”
Abdul is coy about how much Raagni cost to make but he is already planning his third feature, a comedy. And he hopes to shoot all or part of it in the north, using local people as extras and maybe giving local talent a chance at a central role.
What’s more he’s got the full backing of his family – wife Raana, sons Saqib, 31, Saim, 28, daughter Mariam, 34, and her husband Naveed, 37. None of them appear in the film.
“Apart from moral support they are not in the film. And that’s good enough for me. I am happy with that.
“At the moment we are putting all our efforts into this one.
“But I’d love to give somebody a break. That would be brilliant.”