t’s easy to underestimate a chamber piece staged over a table for two. Yet, despite the limited set and visuals, Elham Ehsas and Azeem Bhati’s short two-hander, Our Kind of Love, is an unassuming hit for its performances and melancholic take on dating in the 21st century, for those whose customs still dictate the most. When an Afghani man can’t seem to find love the Western way, he turns toward his culture’s traditional methods in a thought provoking tale of East meets West.
Our Kind of Love is a refreshing alternative to the refugee narrative in how it explores cultural differences through romance, with a bit of hope. Set cheekily against the backdrop of a Japanese sushi restaurant, an Afgani bride-to-be is quite literally a fish out of water in London, and the metaphorical comedic candor is not lost on us. While the production isn’t exactly impressive, the dialogue has quite a magnetic effect upon the film, disguising its 15-minute runtime.
When Afghan refugee, Samira (Afsaneh Dehrouyeh), goes on her first date in London with second generation British Afghan, Harun (Elham Ehsas), the conversation artfully explores the cultural divide despite their shared heritage. Our Kind of Love is therefore a lesson in how to reveal the nuance of characters who have grown up 4,000 miles apart, creating a truly captivating contrast of worlds on screen without being overt. There’s a certain poetic nature to their conversations which is made stronger by such genuine performances by the two actors.
Ehsas, who co-wrote and co-directed with Bhati, also plays Samira’s husband-to-be and explains their inspiration for the film: “The idea for Our Kind Of Love stemmed from our own upbringing of growing up in the West, but also being loyal to cultures, languages and traditions of the East; our motherlands.” Ehsas and Bhati believe themselves to be hybrids, having one foot in both worlds, that only too often collide.
While many would argue that arranged marriages are an archaic practice, Westerners will no doubt sympathize with Harun’s plight. For there are a number of ways to find a partner, yet somehow it has become that much harder to find love in a sea of dating apps. It is with hope and wonder that our two characters might find happiness and a much needed friend in each other after all.
Our Kind of Love was screened at the London Short Film Festival and the Underwire Short Film Festival among others. Ehsas and Bhati hope to make their feature debut under their production title Azana Films.