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Industry: Television Feature

Channel 4's Second Generation a boost for British Asian talent
26th August, 2003

A much publicised two part drama series on Channel 4, named Second Generation, will be televised in mid-September. The drama is a cornerstone of the Channel's efforts to emphasise that its always conscious of and in tune with ethnic minorities in the UK.

The story revolves around Heere Sharma (Parminder Nagra - Bend it like Beckham) and Sam Khan (Christopher Simpson - White Teeth), who used to be childhood sweet-hearts, and find the passion is still there when they run into each other.

This poses a problem for both of them because of their personal situations. Heere has run away from her oppressive family, living with and engaged to white music journalist, Jack (Danny Dyer - Human Traffic), and trying to pretend her heritage doesn't matter.

Sam's label is on the verge of mainstream success and a take over deal. He too has to ask himself what matters the most. Is he selling out? Can he resist the sexy, sassy appeal of Amba (Shelley Conn) or face the fight for Heere? Both also have problems with their dads (played by Om Puri and Anupam Kher), making the whole situation potentially explosive.

Its worth noting that Channel 4 seems to have gone further than most by having the series directed and written by British Asian talent too. The drama, if it does well, would underline that programming aimed at Asians or about Asians doesn't always need a Bollywood angle to succeed. It would also highlight the growing pool of Asian talent here in the UK.

Second Generation is the first original drama by Neil Biswas (co-writer of In a Land of Plenty) and directed by newcomer Jon Sen (whose short film Re-ignited is part of C4's new talent strand 'Coming Up' for 2003).

Excited about the project, Jon Sen says, "The drama is absolutely on the button. It mirrors the fact that in the last five years British Asians have been exploding with confidence as never before." He further added. "This is not a cynical attempt to cash in on the 'fashionability' of British Asians. It's just a brilliant love story, a universal tale that everyone can hook onto."

Significantly, the score is composed by the multi-award winning musician, Nitin Sawhney. Having recently released an album, the maverick artist has also indicated that he would like to do more soundtracks for TV and film.

The cast of the series includes Parminder Nagra, Christopher Simpson, Om Puri, Anupam Kher, Amita Dhiri, Rita Wolf, Roshan Seth, Nitin Ganatra and Danny Dyer. Nitin Ganatra also plays a significant role in the BBC's Canterbury Tales.

Parminder Nagra landed the lead role through a chance encounter with Neil Biswas, who was an old friend. She was pushing her trolley round Sainsbury's last year when she bumped into him. "He said to me, 'I've written this drama called Second Generation - you should come in and read for it'...As soon as I put down Neil's script, I thought, 'what a great story, there is so much I can do with that that character!'" the actress recalls.

Second Generation is scheduled to be broadcast on the 14th and 15th of September. Next week Asians in Media will bring you more from this highly anticipated series.

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