Project by Nawal Mubin
Chaos ensues when Sabeen's younger cousin, Alaina, drinks her contacts on her wedding day.
by Nawal Mubin
Chaos ensues when Sabeen's younger cousin, Alaina, drinks her contacts on her wedding day.
Mission StatementIn the past, mainstream media has often played into several stereotypes when portraying South Asian characters and culture. Hungama strives to dismantle decades of these storylines and celebrate South Asian culture, while also finding a bridge between a cultural and Western identity.
About The Project
Take a moment to think about your favorite dance movie... (it's probably Step-Up). Now think about that movie without a choreographer. I think we can all agree, a dance movie without a choreographer would be a disaster. Similarly, when creating stories about underrepresented and minority communities, we need to have members of that community within the creative team so the stories are being told as accurately as possible.
As an immigrant child, I always felt the need to attain a career of practicality. Clichè as it sounds, this was the truth always surrounding my professional life. I’m the child of two STEM parents, the younger sister of a biomedical engineer turned medical resident, and the older sister of another future doctor. The truth is, even though I always knew I wanted to be a filmmaker, the expectation of having a “practical career” loomed over me, making it difficult to admit my true career goals. After I declared my college major as Communications, the next step was figuring out how to make a practical career out of it. I looked through just about everything; International Studies, HR, PR, and Public Health. Finally, I took a Pre-Law class and thought, “Yep. This is it, this is who I am.” Spoiler alert: it most definitely was not.
After years of chasing a practical career, I realized that the notion of a career in entertainment not being “practical” was a stigma founded on nothing more than false perceptions due to cultural guilt. In other words, it was all in my head. 2020 came around, and much like everyone else, I took the time during the lockdown to rethink my life. After days of research, I decided I wanted to pursue a Master's in Fine Arts; specifically in producing. Fast forward to today, I am in my final semester at Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema.
Over the past year and a half, I have had the incredible opportunity to learn and grow as a filmmaker. During my short time in the program, I have produced five short films, and am in the midst of producing two more. Every film I produce is chosen with the intent to work with POC filmmakers whose stories uplift and share the experiences of underrepresented communities. In order to make the most use of my time in school, I decided to write and direct my own short film, and that is how "Hungama" came to fruition.
I often wonder how many other minorities have experienced the same internal battle I had. How many had hoped for a career in an industry which didn’t always portray them realistically or positively? I want to be a part of this new generation that is striving to change that. I want mine and other minority communities to realize that their stories are important, and I want to be a part of making those stories heard.
It isn’t about practicality--it is about representation and representation matters.
At the start of 2022, I sat down and scheduled all the weddings that were taking place that year. Believe it or not, I counted 10. As I attended each wedding and took part in all the festivities, it hit me. If I want to bring the beauty of my culture into the stories I create, the best way to do so would be through a wedding. Weddings are when our culture is showcased the most, through our food, clothes, music, traditions and so much more.
I had the heart of my film, and now I had to work on building up its story. So, I texted all my friends and asked them "tell me the funniest wedding stories you have." And within an hour, my best friend and her mom called me to tell me about the time a little cousin drank my best friend's mom's contacts the morning of her wedding. I thought this story was hilarious and knew that it would be a perfect addition to my short film.
Around the same time I heard this story, I had watched a South Asian TikToker go viral for wearing her glasses on her wedding day. I remember going through her comments and reading hundreds of people ask her "why would you wear your glasses on your wedding day?" It hit me - up until that moment, I had never seen a South Asian bride wear her glasses on her wedding day. If I went to 10 weddings in 2022, you can imagine how many weddings I had been to throughout my life. And voila, I had my conflict.
Log kya kahange; what will people say? That is the conflict. All South Asian kids have heard this statement at least once in their life. And that was the conversation I wanted to tackle through this story. As children of immigrants, there is often a generational gap between us and our parents. Parents try their best to maintain the cultural traditions they grew up with, and children try to find a way to bridge the gap between their two identities. Sometimes, this leads to a clash between the two, and sometimes that clash leads to the dreaded statement of "log kya kahange".
Hungama (chaos; ruckus), follows the chaos that ensues when our main character Sabeen's little cousin, Alaina, accidentally drinks her contacts on her wedding day. Now Sabeen is dealt with the conflict of whether or not she should wear her glasses at her wedding, and this does not make her mother happy at all. Sabeen is of course distraught at the idea, but the situation is worsened when she gets into an argument with her mother, Irum, who shares her fear of what people will say if her daughter wears her glasses. It's the morning of her big day, Sabeen is in an argument with her mother and struggling to make a decision -- of course, there is hungama.
Sabeen is an ABCD - American Born Confused Desi. Although she loves her culture (most of the time) there are times she struggles to bridge the gap between her two identities. Throughout the film, we see the clash that often exists between immigrant parents and their children.
Irum is the epitome of a brown mom. She says what's on her mind and never holds back. She is trying desperately to make sure her daughter keeps the traditions she grew up with, but sometimes the line between what's important and what isn't gets blurred.
Much like her cousin, Alaina is a second-generation immigrant, however, her parents moved to America when they were a lot younger. Learning from around them, they raised Alaina to appreciate and love both her American and South Asian identities. Although initially, her actions cause the main argument between Irum and Sabeen, she also ends up being the voice of reason that resolves the conflict.
When writing "Hungama", I wanted to do the "generational gap" conversation justice. That is why I created these three female characters who come from different generations. I wanted to be able to showcase the different perspectives to gain a better understanding of the psyche of each generation. Although they may not always agree with one another, at the end of the day, they are all trying their best to fit into a society that may not always accept them.
My producer Paige says it best: it is time to bring the lightheartedness back to BIPOC stories.
There is often a theme within South Asian and Muslim stories that showcase the characters struggling with their identity rather than being proud of it. This is an issue I am passionate about tackling within the film & tv industry. It is important to recognize that these two communities are large - within the world population ~25% are South Asians and ~25% are Muslims. Knowing these numbers, we have to recognize that there isn't just one type of story that accurately represents these communities, there are multiple, and we should work hard to tell as many as we can.
First and foremost, Hungama aims to bring warmth and positivity to South Asian stories and exhibit the beautiful South Asian culture. Secondly, Hungama aims to broaden the conversation that surrounds the South Asian American experience and portray it more accurately -- get rid of the dread, and make it real!
There are 3 parts of filmmaking: pre-production, production, and post-production. Currently, we are in the pre-production phase, and we need to raise funds to bring Hungama to life.
1. Follow our campaign and our Instagram @hungama_shortfilm to keep up to date on all things "Hungama."
2. If you are able to, make a pledge! You can either choose from our list of incentives or make a pledge for specific category from our wishlist. Any dollar amount is helpful as it brings us one step closer to making our film a reality.
3. Unable to pledge? No worries! Share our campaign & our message to all your friends and family and post it all over your socials. Spreading the word also gets us one step closer to bringing "Hungama" to life!
4. Finally! Follow me on TikTok @nuvmub, to keep up with #30days30tiktoks - a social media campaign we are running to share all kinds of fun wedding, cultural, and film-related content!
We are so incredibly grateful for your support in making this project a reality. We cannot wait for you to see it!
Use the WishList to pledge cash and loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an incentive directly.
About This Team
As a South Asian filmmaker, it was incredibly important to me that our team looked like the world we live in. Our key creative crew members are all POC Filmmakers from Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema.