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Thursday, May 30, 2024

From Silence to Strength: Channel 4’s ‘Defiance’ delves into British Asian community’s historic stand against racism

In a groundbreaking move, Channel 4 has announced the commissioning of a major three-part documentary series titled ‘Defiance’, collaborating with BAFTA-winning Rogan Productions, Riz Ahmed’s Left Handed Films, and GroupM Motion Entertainment. Set to be a landmark in historical storytelling, the series aims to shed light on a crucial yet often overlooked period in British history.

Over three compelling hours, ‘Defiance’ will delve into the targeted campaign of violence and murder against Britain’s Asian community between 1976 and 1981, amidst the increasing prominence of National Front activity. From the Southall protests to the Battle for Brick Lane, the series will investigate seminal events that were frequently sidelined by the press, police, and government.

Image: Mike Hollist/Daily Mail/Shutterstock. Crowd following the hearse at the funeral of Blair Peach. Southall protest

Utilising a blend of archival footage and gripping new testimonies from key figures on the front lines during that era, ‘Defiance’ will unveil the untold story of what unfolded when the British Asian community chose to stand up and fight back against oppression.

Commissioned by Shaminder Nahal, Channel 4’s Head of Specialist Factual, the series is set to be directed by Satiyesh Manoharajah and produced by Anoop Pandhal. Executive producers include James Rogan, Nancy Bornat, Soleta Rogan (Rogan Productions), Riz Ahmed, and Allie Moore (Left Handed Films), as well as Deep Sehgal (GroupM Motion Entertainment).

Shaminder Nahal expressed her excitement about the project, emphasising its unique position to illuminate the struggles and triumphs of everyday British Asians striving to make their voices heard. She hopes ‘Defiance’ will serve as a catalyst for reflection and transformation in societal perceptions.

James Rogan, Executive Producer for Rogan Productions, highlighted the series’ significance in finally telling the comprehensive story of Asian refugees and migrants who faced unprecedented racial violence and stood their ground against it.

Riz Ahmed and Allie Moore of Left Handed Films echoed this sentiment, emphasising the timely relevance of the British Asian civil rights movement and the need to acknowledge its impact on shaping contemporary Britain.

Deep Sehgal, Executive Producer for GroupM Motion Entertainment, commended the integrity and importance of ‘Defiance,’ underscoring the significance of supporting such storytelling through initiatives like the Diverse Indies Fund.

As anticipation builds for its release, ‘Defiance’ promises to be an eye-opening journey through a pivotal period in British history, revealing tales of courage, resilience, and the enduring power of defiance in the face of adversity.

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