FABULOUS Fatima Al Mansoori, who appeared in an environmental movie set in India, has been enjoying the red carpet treatment with movie stars, directors and celebrities at a film premiere in the US.
The Bahraini yoga teacher, who was awarded humanitarian accolades for offering support and comfort to last year’s flood victims in Kerala, attended the world premiere of Puzhayamma at the Towne 3 Cinemas Indian movie hub in San Jose, California.
“I was invited by the director Vijeesh Mani. I was excited, I’m happy to be part of this movie, which raises awareness about the rising threat of river pollution, resource depletion and climate change, all of which are caused by humans,” she explained.
“The movie is unique and has a deep message. It’s worth mentioning the crew started shooting before the flood and used live footage of news from the actual crisis which has made a huge impact.”
As reported earlier in GulfWeekly, Fatima used the power of social media to highlight, in real time, what was happening on the ground and her efforts were broadcast across India, at home and abroad.
She said at the time. “I was anxious to highlight the reality of this harsh and painful disaster, so that the suffering could be felt and better understood and make people fully aware of the needs of the people.”
Later her focus was to provide integrative psychosocial mental health support to help prevent further suicide incidents that were happening as a result of post-flood trauma and she had to postpone a university engagement which was the original reason for her trip to India.
Her initiatives were boasted by an appearance in the movie. Vijeesh, who specialises in making environmental films, heard about her activities and asked her to help. “The director happened to see one of the recent videos of my contribution to the flood relief effort,” she explained. “He wanted to include me in his film as the part he envisioned had a direct connection. I didn’t have to learn any lines or anything as my character was really just me. I improvised on set and came up with my own dialogue.”
Getting ready for the shoot was demanding with make-up, lights and action all part of the process. “The experience was best described as ‘muddy and rough’ because the whole film was shot in and around the river.
“I’ve done live TV and recorded interviews in the past but this was a totally new experience. However, it helped that I was working with an experienced crew, alongside professional actors and a make-up artist who was very talented too.
“Although I have been asked several times to act in the past, I’m just not interested. The only reason I accepted this role was because it had a direct connection to what I had been doing in Kerala and it’s a subject that I’m passionate about.”
Fatima says she was also ‘honoured’ to receive an official ‘Asia Book of Records’ certificate for participating in the first film ever shot using a river as the backdrop from beginning to end to raise awareness about the rising threat of pollution.
She also made a positive impression with the rest of the cast who were determined that she make an appearance and join them for their special night.
Fatima said: “I couldn’t have managed to make it to the US at such short notice without the support of Boban whose daughter Ashley plays a vital character. Special thanks also go to my host Thampy Anthony, the lead actor in the movie, and his wife, for hosting me generously in their beautiful house in Alamo.”
The film, she says, has received ‘great feedback’, especially for its ‘breath-taking’ shots of the river and its ‘wonderful’ soundtrack.
Film critics have acclaimed the movie with one describing it as ‘excellent’ and even the younger members of the audience enjoyed it. “It’s very good, you should watch it,” said Nathan, a 14-year-old schoolboy from San Francisco who attended the premiere and afterwards spoke to Fatima’s thousands of followers on her social media Instagram account. “What did you learn from the movie?’ Fatima asked. The child replied: “That we need to take care of nature, we only have one Earth and we should take care of it.”
Fatima added: “This is exactly what we wanted to hear from the younger generation. They are the future. This movie can deliver a powerful environmental message and plant a seed that further action will be needed against the growing threats posed by pollution and climate change.”
Puzhayamma will be officially released in India in February.
Stanley Louis Szecowka
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