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Prasad, Udayan (1953-)


Main image of Prasad, Udayan (1953-)

Udayan Prasad was born in Sevagram, India on 4 February 1953, but emigrated to Britain with his family in 1962. He studied at the National Film and Television School and then moved into television, where he directed a number of documentaries such as A Corner of a Foreign Field (Channel 4, tx. 30/8/1986) and Indian or British or Both? (ITV, 25/4/1986). He then directed a series of television films for the BBC: Here is the News (tx. 5/3/1989), a conspiracy theory thriller written by G.F. Newman; 102 Boulevard Haussmann (tx. 17/12/1991), an Alan Bennett-scripted account of the relationship between Marcel Proust and his maid, Celeste; and three comedies - They Never Slept (tx. 31/3/1991), Running Late (tx. 11/10/1992) and Femme Fatale (tx. 7/2/1993) written by Simon Gray.

Prasad moved into feature films with Brothers in Trouble (1995) and My Son the Fanatic (1997), both of which show a keen sense of the diasporic concerns of many British-Asian filmmakers of his generation. My Son the Fanatic, scripted by Hanif Kureishi from his own novel, shows the religious and generational differences that manifest themselves in a British Muslim family where the son becomes a fundamentalist and vilifies his 'Westernised' taxi-driving father, who drinks and has a relationship with a prostitute. This is a neat inversion of the standard representation of generational conflict - the 'Westernised' youths of Bhaji on the Beach (d. Gurinder Chadha, 1994) or East is East (d. Damien O'Donnell, 1999), for example, struggle against their more traditional parents - and demonstrates that cultural identity is a highly complex issue.

Both films were critically well-received but made little at the box-office. Prasad returned to television to direct 'Playing Sandwiches' (BBC, tx. 20/10/1998) in Alan Bennett's Talking Heads series, and episodes of the comedy drama Big Bad World (ITV, 1999), before making Gabriel and Me (2001) for the Lottery-funded Film Consortium. Written by Lee Hall and centring upon an 11 year old boy in the North East, it inevitably attracted comparisons with Billy Elliot (d. Stephen Daldry, 2000), few of them favourable. His imaginative documentary 'According to Beryl' (tx. 6/10/2001) for the BBC's Arena arts programme (1975-) displayed his talents more effectively.

Qureshi, Irtiza, 'Fundamental Truths', Black Film Bulletin v. 5, n. 2/3, 1997, pp 32-3)

Paul Ward, Reference Guide to British and Irish Film Directors

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Thumbnail image of Brothers In Trouble (1995)Brothers In Trouble (1995)

Drama about a group of illegal immigrants in northern England

Thumbnail image of My Son The Fanatic (1997)My Son The Fanatic (1997)

The son of a Westernised Pakistani cab driver is drawn towards radical Islam

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Thumbnail image of Asian-British CinemaAsian-British Cinema

From the margins to mainstream

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