Powell & Pressburger and Empire + Surviving Sabu (PG)

Black Narcissus is one of Powell and Pressburger’s richest films, layered with subtext. Often approached through the lens of melodrama or the woman’s film, this event will attempt to unpack Black Narcissus in terms of race, Empire and the screen actor Sabu and discuss the film in a new post-colonial context. The event will include a screening of Rashid Iqbal’s short film Surviving Sabu (1997).  

Led by Andrew Moor, Reader in Cinema History at MMU and Omar Ahmed, UK-based film scholar and co-curator of HOME’s Not Just Bollywood.  

Surviving Sabu (PG) 

Dir Ian Iqbal Rashid/GB 1997/16 mins 

Navin Chowdhry, Suresh Oberoi 

Funded by the Arts Council of England as part of its Moving Image series of films about ethnic identity in Britain, Ian Iqbal Rashid’s debut short deservedly won him various industry accolades upon its release. Its sympathetic depiction of a strained relationship between a budding gay filmmaker and his conservative Muslim father as they collaborate on a film about Indian star Sabu – best known for his contribution to British cinema in the 1930s and 40s – is steered by exceptional performances from Suresh Oberoi and Navin Chowdry. 

Generational conflict lies at the heart of the tension: armed with the arrogance of youth and an air of intellectual superiority, Amin seeks to expose his father’s idol as a colonial pawn who became the unwitting victim of Hollywood exploitation. Sadru despairs of his son’s lack of respect and struggles to come to terms with Amin’s sexuality and lifestyle. The ensuing drama is refracted through images of Sabu in glorious 

Part of Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds of Powell + Pressburger, a UK-wide film season supported by National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network. 


1 hour and 15 minutes