From Mumbai to P.E.I.: Filmmaker writing Bollywood-inspired script set on the Island

·3 min read
Filmmaker and baker Jahan Bloch moved to P.E.I. from Mumbai, India in 2019. (Submitted by Jahan Bloch - image credit)
Filmmaker and baker Jahan Bloch moved to P.E.I. from Mumbai, India in 2019. (Submitted by Jahan Bloch - image credit)

Jahan Bloch grew up on film sets.

As a child actor in India, she appeared in a few films directed by her father, Mehul Kumar — a Bollywood director who's shot more than 30 movies in his decades-long career. Bloch even played the lead role in a 2010 film her father directed. Now, she's writing and directing her own movies.

"I just love the whole on-set experience," Bloch said. "That's majorly why I got into [filmmaking] because it's the whole team effort."

Bloch, 33, now lives in Prince Edward Island. Last month, she won a provincial arts grant of $3,700 to write her first feature film script, titled The Bollywood Romance. It's about a teenage girl who's "half Indian and half white Canadian," said Bloch. She said the script will ideally be set in P.E.I. and inspired by Bollywood films.

"I always wanted to do a homage [to] the '90s Indian films, which I have seen growing up," said Bloch. "They highly inspire me."

'The actual idea of Bollywood'

Part of the reason Bloch is writing The Bollywood Romance is to show Western audiences the real Bollywood.

Submitted by Jahan Bloch
Submitted by Jahan Bloch

"Many people over here … they have an idea of Bollywood, but it's not like the actual idea of Bollywood, you know. It's just like the cliché, like those big dances and stuff," she said.

"I want to kind of also talk with the Indian diaspora in Canada because there's not much content about Indians, and there are a lot of Indians in Canada."

Bloch hopes to finish the script by February or March, then shoot the movie in P.E.I. next summer.

"It all depends if I get funding for the movie," she said.

Bloch also hopes to hire crew and actors from P.E.I. for the film.

Baker by day, filmmaker by night

Bloch and her husband moved to P.E.I. from India in 2019. Together they used to run a Japanese and Korean restaurant and catering company in Mumbai. Then her husband got accepted into the international hospitality management program at Holland College, and they decided to pack their things and move across the world.

Submitted by Jahan Bloch
Submitted by Jahan Bloch

"We just wanted a better life," said Bloch.

While Bloch said moving to P.E.I. has been a big shift for the couple, living here is also "a nice change of pace."

"[In Mumbai] you have to constantly hustle and work, and over here it's pretty chill," she said. "You don't have to work on the weekend. You can go out, relax, enjoy the summer, which doesn't happen over there."

The time and the amount of people that it takes to make that two-hour or a 10-minute or even a one-hour show or movie … it's crazy. — Jahan Bloch, filmmaker

Bloch has a day job as a baker, working from 4:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and writing her script in the evenings.

"I keep jumping between pastry chef and the film set," she said.

'Always about telling stories'

Earlier this year, Bloch and her husband made a short drama through Film P.E.I.'s Film 4ward program, which provides training and production funding for Island filmmakers. Titled Paradox of Life, the film follows an at-home caregiver named Arjun during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bloch hopes the short film will premiere at the Charlottetown Film Festival in October. The project is her directorial debut, and making it was a learning process.

"The effort and the energy and the time and the amount of people that it takes to make that two-hour or a 10-minute or even a one-hour show or movie … it's crazy," she said.

But Bloch isn't giving up the hectic life of filmmaking any time soon.

It's her passion — she said she loves the connection films can make with their audiences.

"It's always about telling stories," Bloch said. "You go through the flux of so many emotions. So it's just amazing."

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