In 2006, television director Menhaj Huda stepped away from the small screen to make a film that reflected the hopes and dreams of young people who were part of the burgeoning UK urban scene.
Kidulthood struck a chord with British audiences and lit the fuse on a glut of similarly themed stories including, most recently, the streetwise comedy Anuvahood.
Huda subsequently returned to his television work, but he has been tempted back to the bigger canvas by this pet project.
Everywhere + Nowhere is a coming-of-age story that offers a snapshot of the challenges faced by Asian youth in 21st century Britain.
Although by no means autobiographical, the script is based on the writer-director’s personal experiences and observations, exploring the double lives of an entire generation who are caught between honouring their parents’ wishes and establishing their identity in the consumerist West.
The film takes its title from the dislocation of these second generation immigrants, who rail against the secrets and lies but continue the deception for the sake of family unity.
Since music plays a crucial role in Asian culture, DJ Nerm has compiled a soundtrack of traditional Indian music and underground club tracks that perfectly reflects the collision of tradition and modernity at the heart of Huda’s vision.
Twenty-year-old Ash Khan (James Floyd) lives with his older brother Ahmed (Alyy Khan), sister-in-law Rubena (Shaheen Khan) and sister Sairah (Shivani Ghai).
Ash is contemplating dropping out of college to pursue his musical ambitions as a DJ but Ahmed delivers a reality check.
“You have two choices: You either finish your course or you come and work for me full-time,” he barks.
So the young man continues to study while hoping for a shot on the turntables like Sairah’s DJ boyfriend, Ronnie (Simon Webbe).
Ash shares his frustrations with best friends Zaf (Adam Deacon), whose father (Saeed Jaffrey) is seriously ill, ladies man Jaz (Elyes Gabel) and impressionable Riz (Neet Mohan).
“Why can’t people just be honest about who they are?” he rails.
A romance with dancer Bella (Katia Winter) complicates matters as the four young men search for enlightenment in a haze of booze and drugs.
Everywhere + Nowhere offers a compelling account of the frustrations and shattered dreams of young people, whose passports say British but their minds are torn between East and West.
Huda’s script focuses predominantly on Ash’s journey of self-discovery at the expense of the other male leads, which is a shame because their plot strands are unresolved including Riz’s arrest by the police.
Deacon isn’t strong enough as an actor to carry his character’s emotionally wrought storyline and when the tears glisten on Zaf’s face, you strongly suspect they are courtesy of the make-up department.
That’s the magic of the movies.
By Damon Smith
:: SWEARING :: SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 6/10
Released: May 6 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas), 96 mins