Vikash Bhai  was struck by the “honesty, the heart and the humor”When read the script for “Limbo” . Ben Sharrock’s film about refugees stuck on a Scottish island desperately awaiting permission to stay in the UK .

 While Bhai was raised in Leicester, England, the character of Farhad, a pop culture-loving Afghani, struck several chords with him: growing up the son of an Indian immigrant and single mother, he knew what it was like to feel like an outsider with the world you dream of in his case, the drama schools in London in sight, but just out of reach.

He  says ,Yet relates to Farhad’s indestructible optimism, which overrides any persisting sadness: “My mother is my inspiration  she always had hope and that’s where I drew the bravery in Farhad’s character from,”.

 “It’s an homage to my mother .” Determined to land the role, Bhai shaved his beard so he could show up for his audition with a mustache resembling the one that famously adorned Farhad’s idol, Freddie Mercury of Queen.

Farhad, who at one point steals a chicken and names him after Mercury, was a fun but also inspiring character to dive into. “Farhad wears his heart on his sleeve and is not afraid to be who he wants to be and I know I’d like to be a bit more like that,” says Bhai, who watched Mercury interviews and listened to Queen every day to warm up.

Farhad befriends the protagonist, Omar , who had been a talented oud player before fleeing Syria. But Omar is riddled by guilt over leaving his parents in Turkey, and especially his brother, who stayed in Syria to fight. His instrument now sits unused in its case, a burdensome, haunting heritage.

The  movie strikes a delicate balance between pathos and humor, Bhai would constantly recalibrate to find the right tone. Bhai says, “It definitely was not easy because you don’t want to be making light of someone’s situation,”. “I’d have to sheepdog myself.”


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