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Emirati filmmaker and Oscar-winning composer team up: Nayla Al-Khaja, A.R. Rahman announce new movie

Emirati filmmaker and Oscar-winning composer team up: Nayla Al-Khaja, A.R. Rahman announce new movie

CANNES: Exciting news of movie collaboration has been announced at Cannes Film Festival this week. UAE's first independent filmmaker Nayla Al-Khaja has teamed up with Oscar-winning Indian composer A.R. Rahman for her newest movie 'Baab".

The recipient of multiple awards herself, Al-Khaja at the Cannes Film Festival told Arab News, "This means the world to me, I feel like he is going to do something extremely unique and unprecedented and I need to match that with a picture, my camera language, and to be honest with my work".

The music composition of the Emirati filmmaker's movie 'Baab' will be done by the Oscar-, BAFTA-, Golden Globe-, and Grammy-winning composer, Rahman who has scored music for more than 145 films.

"Baab", co-written with Masoud Amralla Al-Ali, is described as Al-Khaja's first "art-house" movie. She has previously released several movies; including short films like films "The Neighbor," "Malal," "Animal," and "The Shadow."

The movie will be Rahman's first Middle-Eastern project, and therefore agreed to the proposed collaboration right away. He said "People like her coming and laying the road for younger women is a fantastic thing to do and being a part of it is legendary," "For me, it feels like I'm just starting out". He added, "It feels like it's the first film for me, because she has a very new vision and she comes from a different place, which I have not been to before. And I always feel good about a clean piece of paper that has nothing written on it."

Speaking about how this came together, Al-Khaja explained that it was purely by coincidence. It was a spur of the moment decision sparked by a post on Instagram. "The truth is, (this happened because of) Instagram," she said. One day — having seen one of Al-Khaja's Instagram stories in which she mentioned Rahman — her driver jokingly said to her, "Imagine if, one day, he called you."

"He just put it out into the universe. It was just a casual remark, but two days later I got a call arranging a meeting," Al-Khaja continued.

Both of them are in agreement to that fact that sometimes the best partnerships are a result of spontaneous decisions.

"It was completely unplanned," Al-Khaja said. "But I don't want to say it was an accident. It was born out of an honest and real place."

Rahman's love for nuances initially led him to the dream partnership. "I like the nuances," he said. "There are open and unexplored parts of working with a filmmaker, which is great", he explained.

He also gave an insight as to how he scored his movie tracks. "Talking to a director, I find out the dos and don'ts — their inspiration and level of realism. I do a little bit of research to find sounds, sometimes I use them and sometimes I throw them away. Having it and discarding it is better than not having it when producing," he said.

Variety has reported that Al-Khaja bills the film 'Baab', which talks about Wahida, the protagonist. The movie follows her as she tries to uncover the mystery that shrouds the death of her twin sister. They called it a film that was "100 percent art-house fantasy, and borderline horror."

According to the filmmaker, "It's intense. There are some creepy parts where it's extremely uncomfortable. I don't know that I can classify it (entirely) as a horror movie, but we have maybe two or three scenes that are over that line. But for the most part, I'd say it's art-house fantasy."

She explains that certain scenes that come at the end of the movie are "uncomfortable". "She's tied by her arms and legs with a rope. The ceiling is almost touching (her face) for the whole scene, then (suddenly) one rope rips and she's hanging there a long time and she's breathing against the ceiling, it's quiet and then it snaps. That's right at the end".

The shooting for the movie 'Baab' is scheduled for March and will be shot from Ras Al-Khaimah. Both collaborators are hoping that the movie will be special in all aspects, from storyline and performance to costume design, production and music.

"We really want to push this as far as we can," Al-Khaja said.

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TAGS:AR Rahman Nayla Al-Khaja India UAE 
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