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A PRIVATE ENTERPRISE

UK, 1974 (MIFF 1975)

Director: Peter K. Smith

A young Indian engineer, Shiv, attempts to achieve his ambition, despite family pressures and the limitations of his job as a foundry worker in the Midlands. A strike at the Birmingham factory where he works, gives him the opportunity to look for a site for the business he wants to set up: making Indian novelties in plastic. There's a future in plastics, he thinks; more future at any rate, than in standing in a picket line with his friend, Ashok. But his uncle wants him to join his small business making cushions, and also wants him to marry a rich businessman's daughter, Chandra. Shiv agrees to meet the girl in London, but he discovers she is spoilt and precocious. On his journey back, he meets an English girl, Penny, but this encounter leads only to disappointment. Shiv perseveres with his business pians, but finds the going tough. His friendship with Ashok is under strain, following his refusal to help man the pickets. Finally, he decides to join his uncle's business. But the uncle dies when the factory burns down. Uncertain and alone, Shiv leaves for London.

The opening scenes of the film were inspired by a real strike of Indian workers in Southall. The film's director, Peter Smith, describes its inception: 'What attracted me to the subject was that I saw myself in the position of the Indian boy. I had a very lucrative job in the civil service — I was actually a member of the Australian Diplomatic Corps — but I desperately wanted to do something else. I was confronted with a choice of alternatives, and the film is about someone who also has to choose.

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