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Bafta Breakthrough Brit – Vinay Patel: writing the future…

Bafta Breakthrough Brit – Vinay Patel: writing the future…

November 30 2016

Exiting new voice ready for take-off…

VINAY PATEL is one of the most down to earth blokes you could probably hope to meet.

But the self-effacing and friendly 30-year-old is hot property as a writer and has little, if any, of the ego you might expect to go with that.

He now has the formal credentials to back it as a statement – as he was named a Bafta (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Breakthrough Brit along with 17 others (including music composer, Nainita Desai) last month.

The Bafta Brit is a special initiative supported by Burberry and provides mentoring and support for a year. (See box below).

Adeel Akhtar, Kiran Sonia Sawar and Maawan Rizwan in the BBC's 'Murdered by my Father'

Most of you are likely to know Patel or his work from an explosive BBC TV drama shown earlier this year – “Murdered by my Father”.

Showered with awards, it went to the very heart of a tough and – in some quarters – sensitive subject – honour crime.

Loosely conceived from the previous BBC one-off and equally lauded, “Murdered by my Boyfriend”, Patel’s piece is widely recognised as one of the stand-out television pieces of our times – not just this year.

Commissioned by Aysha Rafaele, head of documentary at the BBC, Patel had doubts initially.

He confessed to “I didn’t know if I really wanted do it, I didn’t want to do a stereotypical drama, and portray a subtle but angry brown man.

“But the person with the most power in that project (Rafeale) absolutely, fundamentally wanted to create real people and I think that’s the only way you get to discuss those topics.”

Sterling performances from Adeel Akhtar as the Dad, Kiran Sonia Sawar, as the daughter and Mawaan Rizwan, as the ‘illicit’ boyfriend certainly helped, but the tender relationships and delicate juxtapositions created by Patel really propelled the drama further in very powerful and affecting ways.

The journey between loving father and violent, angry, honour obsessed (and retributive) patriarch was subtly rendered, making the conclusive act not just predictable, but also terribly believable and relatable.

A few critics may have been discomforted by the South Asian Muslim family backdrop (and another negative portrayal in the mass media) but Patel and Rafaele produced a drama that had depth and complexity and was far more about cultural practice and the discredited ideas that sometimes support it.

Patel remembers watching the first cut and not thinking too much about it.

“It didn’t feel like I had written it and I just watched it and thought this is working…”

About Bafta Breakthrough Brits
Amanda Berry OBE, chief executive of Bafta, said: “Now in its fourth year, Breakthrough Brits, in partnership with Burberry, is our headline new talent initiative showcasing, celebrating and supporting the next generation of British creative talent in film, television and games.
“Our 2016 Breakthrough Brits come from a range of backgrounds and represent the variety of specialisms that make up our creative industries. I’m thrilled to see such talented individuals recognised this year.”
You have to apply to be considered for a Breakthrough Brit and a special jury makes the final selections across the film, TV and games sector. This year the 18-strong jury included actors Rosamund Pike ('A United Kingdom, 'Gone Girl') and Joe Dempsie ('Game of Thrones','Skins') , director Sarah Gavron ('Suffragette', 'Brick Lane') and Bafta award-winning computer games designer and developer Mike Bithell ('Thomas Was Alone', 'MonsterMind'). There are also powerful industry figures and among them was Sanjay Singhal, chief executive of Voltage TV, an independent production company which produces programmes for the country’s leading broadcasters.There are also international jury members drawn from the US who also feed into the process. Bafta Breakthrough Brits receive one-to-one mentoring, an international travel bursary, guidance sessions and networking opportunities, as well as free access to BAFTA events, for 12 months. See below for more links.
Pictured above: Rosamund Pike speaking and Nainita Desai and Vinay Patel (standing fourth & fifth from left)

He likes writing for television, having started out in the theatre and his criss-crossing genres – TV, theatre, film and one day, novels too possibly, means the Bafta Breakthrough Brit award is especially relevant to him.

Designed to provide guidance and top level industry contacts, it is this which made him apply in the first place.

“It’s trying to figure out what to do next, what direction do I want to go in, and there are people (as part of the programme) who have been doing this for years and can help to work out a trajectory.

“I am getting offered projects which is really nice, but at the same time there are constrains on my social life and it’s a little hard on your own,” he opined.

Next year will see more of his writing reaching the small screen.

He has penned an episode of a new ITV comedy drama series, “Good Karma Hospital” about a mixed race British Asian girl setting up a hospital in Kerala, having grown up in the UK.

“You can do a story for TV and reach lots of people – as in ‘Murdered By My Father’, you can tell drama as well as it being an issue thing, that’s a good to be doing,” he said about the power TV has.

He is also working on a feature film but isn’t at liberty to talk about it publicly for the moment.

Another play, misleadingly and blandly titled (for now), “An Adventure” will cover three generations and their movement from India, Kenya and Britain.

Both his parents (his mother died when he was young) were born in Nairobi, and his three surviving grandparents all in their 80s encapsulate a vivid story of migration and final settlement in London.

The play will be very loosely based on his own family’s experiences.

“It’s about the journey people made and the sacrifices – moving from three continents.

“My grandparents say they were just trying to get a job and juxtaposition of those two elements is what I like,” he described.

It is expected to go into production next year at The Bush Theatre, West London.

It was “True Brits”, his play performed in 2014 at The Bush, that first brought him to industry attention.

A monologue, it covers a huge amount of ground, as the young Rahul looks back and across two very pivotal events – the July 7 bombings, the day after the city was handed the Olympic Games – and the games themselves in 2012.

After reading English at Exeter University, he focused on filmmaking, and saw himself as training to be a feature film director and completed an MA in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media at the Royal School of Speech and Drama in 2011.

He worked a lot on corporate films and it was not until “Bump” in 2013, a two-hander about an Asian young man and his white friend that he began to write with a greater sense of finding his vocation (and his voice).

But he might wind up in politics – as a Labour Party member, he expressed some wish that like his maternal grandfather, a former union rep, he wants to make a difference.

“I would like to go into politics and have a political career, I can never get it out of my head.”

That may still be a way off but whatever ambitions he has, Vinay Patel is a writer to watch.

Main picture credits: BAFTA/Charlie Clift

More information on Bafta Breakthrough Brits

Nainita Desai interview

See the full list of Bafta Breakthrough Brits –
About Bafta Breakthrough Brits

For more information, please email or see

‘Murdered by my Father’ review –
Vinay Patel also has an essay in the award-winning (Books Are My Bag) ‘The Good Immigrant’ edited by Nikesh Shukla – see story here

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture


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