Sudheer Konderi always dreamt of being the first Indian filmmaker to make an Emirati film, and with his family drama ‘11 Days: A Journey Through Real Lives’, he set out to make it a reality.
The multilingual film (Arabic and English), out in the UAE now, highlights the familial bonds that persevere through hardships. Here are five things to know about the story and how it came to be.
1. ’11 Days’ follows the journey of an Emirati father who tries to save his son
When filmmaker Ahmed (Ahmed Al Hashmi) heads to Bangkok with a friend to shoot his latest project, he casts a young girl in his production and finds himself uncovering unsavoury business. His instinct is to protect the little girl and treat her as family. (“She’s like my daughter,” Ahmed says, in the film’s trailer. “We’re delegated from God to save her.”) But after he is accused of harassing the child and drug-related offenses, his wife, daughter and father (Habib Ghuloom) must fly to Thailand to prove his innocence and save him from prison. The events unfold over the course of 11 days.
2. It’s being touted as the first Emirati film to be directed by an Indian filmmaker
Hailing from Kerala, Sudheer Konderi — an advertising filmmaker and an executive at Lulu Group International — has been living in the UAE for almost 20 years. His passion for drawing and storytelling led him to enrol in classes at the New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi. “When I was studying there, my dream was to make the first film here, with Arabic [talent]. It was a big challenge, but I took it,” said Konderi.
3. It stars a familiar Emirati actor opposite a new face
Playing the role of concerned father, Ghuloom has previously been in films such as ‘The Worthy’, ‘City of Life’ and ‘Thawb Al Shams’. “He is a very well-known actor here. I told him I had a good story and asked if we could make an Arabic film together. He was very supportive of me and gave me a lot of tips,” said Konderi. The movie also featured Dubai TV presenter Al Hashmi as the protagonist, in his first feature film role. According to Konderi, Al Hashmi attended a workshop beforehand; the director praised his debut performance.
4. The film took two years to make and was filmed in both the UAE and Thailand
“We shot in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Bangkok. We shot in Thailand for almost 20 days, because most of the story happens there,” said Konderi. “For the last two years, we’ve been working on this — pre-production, shooting, post-production. It’s very hard… Finally, it came out very well. Hopefully, the people will like it.” He encouraged viewers to support local cinema so it can flourish. “As part of Year of Zayed, we need to promote Emirati culture, their humanity,” the director said. “We want to promote Emirati movies to the level of Hollywood and Bollywood.”
5. ‘11 Days’ was inspired by Konderi’s years of going to Thailand
The filmmaker spent five years visiting Bangkok and mingling with its residents. He considered it a kind of research for ‘11 Days’. “I’m a traveller, I’ve shot more than 100 films for different brands; I used to go to Bangkok [and] I love the people. I read a lot of books about how the people are there — there are a lot of cultures there. I want to show to the world how they are living. Then I thought, ‘I have a good idea to tie between Arabic culture and Bangkok,’” said Konderi.
Don’t miss it!
‘11 Days’ is out now in the UAE.