Many years ago at one of the film festivals I met a very talented young guy. His name was Asif Kapadia and his directing debut was shown at the festival. The film I’m talking about is ‘Warrior’.
It is a visually striking film which in my opinion was never understood and appreciated properly.
The plot was inspired by a Japanese story about a young boy, Samurai’s son, who looses his life to save his father. The father is hiding in a crowd of people and witnesses his son being decapitated.
The story moved and captivated Asif who started working on a script with Tim Miller. At the beginning the Japanese story about a Samurai was supposed to be just an opening scene of a film, but when they started working on it the first version of the script expanded to 35 pages. At first it took place in Japan but for many reasons it made more sense to Asif to change the location into India. First of all Japan was more expensive, it was easier to find money to make a film in India. Secondly, Asif had already made a film there (short film ‘The Sheep Thief’), had some contacts and experience of knowing what to expect, and India always had a massive film industry. The funny thing is, Asif was working at the time on his own script. In the meantime he started working on the script for ‘Warrior’ with Tim Miller in his own words ‘not for money, but for our own pleasure’. When they finished, they felt satisfied with their work. So they sent it to the producers. And from there it went really quickly – they sent the script on Thursday and on Monday two producers got back to them saying they wanted to produce it. It was just before Christmas so as Asif said ‘Maybe people were in a good mood. I was in the right place at the right time’.
The making of the film wasn’t the easiest. The crew suffered from malaria, being stung by scorpions, bitten by stray dogs.
When they were about to start shooting in one village, one local said that if the crew starts filming there, he’s going to commit suicide. So in a few days they had to build a new set – a replica of the village. The advantage was, they could burn it afterwards as it happened in the script.
The crew spent a biblical 40 days on the desert, every single day cleaning and dusting the camera and lenses from a few hours of sand. Somehow miraculously there were no scratches on the film. It was also really hot (45C), but as Asif and Roman said, they were very lucky to have an amazing crew around them. In the UK people sometimes complain about the weather, food, everything, the Indian crew were really enthusiastic and energetic, and as soon as there was a break in shooting, they took out their instruments and started playing (!).
The story shows the journey of a warrior – from serving a warlord to his awakening and decision to never kill again. It takes him from a desert to the Himalayan mountains.
It is beautifully shot by Roman Osin. It has dream like sequences. The way it’s filmed and the lighting of the scenes shows the emotional and spiritual points of the film. It’s a visual masterpiece.
When many years ago I interviewed Asif Kapadia, he was joking that I mainly came to London to interview Mike Leigh and he was just filling my spare time. I told him that I strongly believe that some day he will go to the Oscars and be recognized. That time has come. Asif became really successful after directing ‘Senna’. Yesterday his new film was released to the cinemas – ‘Amy’. And even though I haven’t seen it yet, I believe in Asif’s talent. He treats his protagonists honestly and with tenderness. He is a very intelligent, talented artist, who also happens to be very humble. So please, show your support, go and see ‘Amy’. You might discover something new about Amy Winehouse.
I thought that with the Warrior I should introduce you to something suitable geographically. I was given this recipe by the best home cook I know, Zaida. I changed it just a little bit (replaced water with more tomatoes, because I’m a tomato kind of girl.
2 tsp oil (or coconut oil)
1 onion finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin seeds
chilli powder (I add just a pinch, depends how hot you like it)
1 tsp turmeric
1 can chopped tomatoes or 5 chopped fresh ones
200g cooked chickpeas (or rinsed canned ones)
1. Fry onions until light brown.
2. Add garlic, turmeric and cumin seeds, fry for 4-6 minutes. Add tomatoes and chilli powder. Cook until turns into thick paste.
3. Add chickpeas. Cook for 3 minutes, add coriander. Serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt (optional).