Brown Boy Blue

The documentary “Brown Boy Blue” tackles the taboo topic of mental health issues within the British born South East Asian community of Derby. Embarking on a personal journey with Manvir Bahra back home to Derby, where he seeks out to find those alike who have struggled within the realms of mental health in a culture where depression is repressed and seems non-existent on the surface of the community.

Bahra begins his exploration in his newfound home of London, the place where he looked to reinvent himself and start afresh. However, with drugs and alcohol at hand, his continued sense of loneliness and his desire to find affection has him battling the black dog once again.

A few hours north of London Bahra hits the heart of Birmingham. A city notorious for its South-East Asian community. He visits the AIM Academy whose students openly discuss mental health issues and channel their emotional distress through music – the same medium where Bahra found his solace. Legendary British Indian Reggae artist Apache Indian, who has also suffered from mental health issues of his own, set up the award-winning academy in 2013, encouraging the youth of Birmingham to lead a positive lifestyle, develop life skills and offers guidance through a musical degree.

Upon arriving in Derby, Bahra first visits upcoming author Kalwinder Singh Dhindsa, My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree: Part 1 (2016), to gain a further understanding of mental health issues and why they are rejected by the previous generation of South East Asians through an inquisitive interview. Dhindsa’s autobiographical book reflects on his life growing up as Sikh and the events that surround his father’s mental health turmoil, which ultimately led to his unfortunate death by suicide.

Bahra finally returns home to his parents’ house; The place he couldn’t wait to see the back of; The place that birthed the first of his mental health deterioration; The place where he once decided he had enough of life. Bahra digs up his past journals in the garage where he spent most of his time and relives the burden he brought on his family through a delicate conversation with his Mother.

Targeted toward the young British born South East Asian community, aged 16-24, Bahra sees this film as a motivational piece that raises awareness and encourages his community to stand up and tackle the issue of mental health head-on. Giving hope and a voice to those that suffer silently, just as he did.

Ana Paganini – Photographer and Filmmaker


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If you enjoyed this adocumentary by Ana, check out our interview with Dan Wood: