'Before Life After Death' On The Lives Of Singaporean Indians

A veteran of several short and documentary subjects, Anshul Tiwari’s narrative feature “Before Life After Death” has its world premiere in the Panorama strand of the Singapore International Film Festival.

In the film, a rebellious female student and a reticent middle-aged gynecologist, both of Indian origin, strike up an unlikely bond as they each confront a life-altering incident.

“Being a documentary filmmaker in the region gave me unique insight and access into Singapore’s civil society. The writer, Debasmita Dasgupta, created a narrative around the disparity between working and upper-class Singaporeans of Indian origin. She and I spoke a lot about sisterhood and how sometimes a woman’s best friend is another woman despite [her] being a stranger,” Tiwari told Variety. “People often talk about the fault lines where Singapore’s diversity has clear-cut boundaries despite sharing the same space. But we have seen a different side to Singapore where intercultural commingling is so natural, it’s not even a talking point. We depicted a Singapore where the Indian community is not seen as outsiders but rather rooted in this land and working with the complexity of Singapore’s social norms.”

The film is produced by Tiwari’s FilmsPositive and Namita Lal’s NutzAboutMe. “Film financing is always a challenge and it was especially so during COVID times. But we were fortunate that the writer, director and I could work as a close team, as we were all in Singapore, and put together a plan and budget that was tight but achievable. We were helped by a few friendly investors who came on board to support my first NutzAboutMe production in Singapore,” Lal told Variety.

Lal also plays a key role in the film and is no stranger to acting and producing simultaneously. Her dual credits include “Lihaaf: The Quilt” and “Oxygen.”

‘For me being a producer has really helped me as an actor and vice versa. Being involved in the film from the pre-development phase and right through the script, shoot, post, marketing and sales has given me a deep sense of the various aspects of film-making, the challenges faced by the director and the team. These insights and early involvement in the story greatly help me in my performance,” Lal said.

The film’s cast also includes Gauraangi Chopra and Adrian Pang.

Next up for Lal is writing and developing a feature film on the lives of three women who travel from Singapore to India with life changing results. Tiwari is part of the new cohort of the British Independent Film Awards Springboard program working with a global mentor to set up his next feature to be shot in India and starring Kirti Kulhari. Dasgupta and Tiwari are also teaming via FilmsPositive for an experimental psycho fiction that will reimagine a play by Jean-Paul Sartre. The principal photography will likely commence in 2023.

“Before Life After Death” premieres on Nov. 26.

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