Shai Hussain is the writer of BBC Asian Network dramas Silver Street, Reality Check, Resolutions and the critically-acclaimed Radio 4 play Til Jihad Do Us Part.
He wrote episodes of Zing TV serial Cloud 9, and his sitcom Generasians was previously optioned to NBC Universal.
The feature version of Til Jihad Do Us Part made finalist at The Big Pitch competition 2009, a national feature film competition with a £250k production prize, and attracted the attention of Gordon Anderson of The Inbetweeners to direct for a while.
Last year, Shai wrote, directed and produced Three Shades Of Brown, an original comedy webseries that premiered at the New York Indian Film Festival and has received largely positive reviews.
His work has featured the talents of Rakhee Thakrar (Eastenders), Lena Kaur (Hollyoaks), Adeel Akhtar (4 Lions), Kulvinder Ghir and Nina Wadia (Goodness Gracious Me).
Shai also works as an Entertainment Editor for The-NRI.com, and his alter-ego DJ Shai Guy is resident DJ for Bollywood clubnight Bombay Funkadelic and for the weekly #MondayMashup that airs on the BBC Asian Network.
MEENA (V.O.) I knew Sarwar had to go back to Kashmir soon. We’d decided from the off to indulge in nothing more than friendship. However, no matter how much you can control your actions, feelings are another thing completely.
MRS KHATOON Jamila!!
JAMILA Yeah, yeah, yeah. Comin’, comin’.
MEENA (V.O.) And Sarwar agreed. He’d been fighting the same feelings, knowing that a relationship would only lead to hurt. Unless...
Jamila OPENS the door. She CHEWS GUM noisily and doesn’t say a word.
SARWAR Salaam Aleikum. You must be-
KALEEM Subhanallah! With such extraterrestrial beauty, you can only be Meena. The gods smiled very sweetly the day your umbilical cord was cut.
JAMILA You what?
SARWAR (embarrassed) I’m sorry Jamila. My uncle has mistaken you for your sister. Hahahaha...ha?
JAMILA Have you boys just stepped off the banana boat or summat?
(Beat. More CHEWING.)
SARWAR Right. Shall we enter?
They go inside and Jamila shuts the door.
Sc 11 INT. KHATOON HOUSE, LOUNGE - DAY
Mrs Khatoon SERVES Kaleem and Sarwar cups of tea.
MRS KHATOON Kaleemsahib? How many sugars?
KALEEM None, thank you. I am sweet as a ladoo as it is. Excuse me.
Kaleem takes a DEEP BREATH and GULPS the cup down.
MEENA (V.O.) Everybody was keen on us getting together. And Mum? She was on another scale of keenness completely.
INT. KHATOON HOUSE, LOUNGE - DAY
FX: GAMESHOW JINGLE
MRS KHATOON (like a gameshow host) Kaleemji, this is your lucky day. Standing here in front of you is the finest young Muslim bachelorette this country has to offer. The smile of Madhuri, the ethics of Gandhi, the obedience of a labrador. Okay, she may be a little chubby but- (sudden shift in tone) Take her! Just take her, Sarwar beta! Can’t you see she’s growing old? Have some heart for this poor mother. Take her and MAKE ME GRANDCHILDREN!
Sc 12 INT. KHATOON HOUSE, GARDEN - DAY
Meena and Sarwar sit on the porch as birds TWEET around them.
MEENA (V.O.) Anyhow, Kaleem Uncle and Mum wanted us to get married. But the final decision lay solely in the hands of me and Sarwar.
They both LAUGH, having interrupted one another.
SARWAR Sorry, you first.
MEENA Okay. So. Believe it or not, arranged marriages were always the last thing I thought I’d ever do. Until I met you. I- I like you.
SARWAR I like you too.
MEENA But there’s some things you should know before we- A lot of things my Mum doesn’t even know. I’m not exactly the average Muslim girl. I go out. I eat pork. I drink. You’ve seen most of it already.
SARWAR A lot of Muslims procrastinate.
MEENA I’m trying to give up smoking.
SARWAR We’ve all been there.
MEENA I’ve had...ex-boyfriends.
SARWAR Hmmm. Okay. How many?
SARWAR Pause) Okay, nine sexual partners. A bit higher than I was expecting but-
MEENA I’ve had a few more sexual... partners...
SARWAR Hmmm. Haaa. Okay. How many?
MEENA Late teens, early twenties.
SARWAR Okay. Okay. Okaaaaay.
MEENA I’m sorry. I just want everything to be out in the open if we’re going for this. I mean, can you live with knowing my past?
Sarwar hugs her and KISSES her forehead.
SARWAR Your honesty is genuine. My feelings for you are only strengthened by it.
MEENA Is there anything you want to tell me?
SARWAR (Beat) Ah, Meena. We have the rest of our lives to get to know one another.
MEENA (V.O.) And that was that. No ‘“Will you marry me” down on one knee’ rubbish. No Eiffel Tower in the background or string quartet playing. Not even the faint smell of Mum cooking samosas nearby could destroy the warmest, fuzziest feeling I had ever felt in my life.
Sarwar KISSES her.
MEENA (V.O.) Our first kiss. And they lived happily ever aft-
MEENA You’re not using me for a visa, right?
FX: “CD Skip”
Sc 13 INT. KALEEM’S HOUSE, LOUNGE - EVENING
SARWAR I am using her for a visa.
KALEEM Arey beta. This isn’t the first time you’re using the ladies.
SARWAR I know. But it doesn’t feel right.
KALEEM That’s because you are growing feelings for this girl. I can’t blame you. She had me at ‘Salaam’.
SARWAR Uncle. I always handle my victims with great care. We’re on a mission. I am a professional. This is purely professional.
KALEEM (unconvinced) Okay. But Freder / ick
SARWAR /Don’t worry about Frederick. We just lay low. As soon as I get the call from the Cleric, I will leave her. I know what I must do.
KALEEM But you are growing feelings?
KALEEM Though it doesn’t feel right?
SARWAR (beat) Thank Allah they had that charm school at the training camp. I know, she will hurt when I leave. But I will stick by my rule. No intercoursing, no love, no hurt.
KALEEM No intercoursing?
SARWAR No intercoursing.
KALEEM But that’s one of the perks of the job! Anyhow, your plan would be fine. But this is merry olde England, babu. Do you think she will marry a man she does not love?
SARWAR (sigh) We are in this Mile of Curry. Frederick will never find us. And the Cleric will call before the wedding. I have faith.
KALEEM One month, beta. No marriage, no visa. No visa, bon revoir.
ECHO: ‘No visa, bon revoir’ x 3 … echoing into silence.
Sc 14 INT. KHATOON HOUSE, GARDEN - DAY
FX Meat SIZZLES as it drops onto a barbeque. A CROWD react excitedly.
MEENA (V.O.) We held a barbeque to welcome Sarwar into the collective. Every one of my family and friends instantly fell in love with him. Jamila still wasn’t convinced.
JAMILA Ey up bro poppadom. Is me kebab ready yet?
SARWAR Here you go. 100% Kashmiri style. I hope you like it.
JAMILA Well Patak pickle. We’ll see about that, won’t we?
MEENA Jamila? What’re you being rude for?
JAMILA Mahatma Gandhi. I don’t trust him, Meenapa. Month to get married? Something not quite right, sis.
MEENA Jamila, I’ve never felt so right about someone. I chose him. Can you please try get along with him?
JAMILA I’ll eat this kebab. Just for you.
MEENA It’s a start.
Jamila TUCKS IN. She GROANS with ecstasy.
JAMILA So hard to hate when kebab so good.
Kaleem WHISTLES away to himself when Sarwar stops him.
SARWAR (discreetly) Kaleem Uncle, that man has been watching me for the past five minutes. Brown suit, dark shades.
KALEEM Leave it to me, beta. I’ve got him covered.
MEENA Sarwar? What are you staring- Oh, that’s my cousin Murtaza.
SARWAR Your cousin?
MEENA Recently got back from Afghanistan. Poor guy. Bomb exploded next to him and he got shrapnel in his eyes.
SARWAR He’s blind!?
MEENA Afraid so.
MEENA Awww, you really care about him, don’t you? Too sweet! Come here.
Meena KISSES him.
SARWAR Excuse me for a moment.
SARWAR (discreetly) Kaleem Uncle. Do not shoot. Repeat, do not shoot.