Film ‘Sahara’ wins best producer and excellence award for Satish Rai at FOG film fest in San Jose

satish rai - with Zara 01









Satish Rai and Zara

A Liverpool based producer and film maker Dr Satish Rai received Best Producer award and FOG Award for Excellence for his film ”˜Sahara’ at the Festival of Globe (FOG) Film Festival held in San Jose, USA.

Sahara is a 115 minute feature film that looks at Fiji Indian population and their struggle after the coup when families were evicted out of their farms and their struggle to survive as they are forced into squatter settlements. It has Satish Rai himself and Joe Thomas and Vijay Jogia in lead roles.

Dr. Rai is a multi award winning film and television producer and has produced four feature films, seven documentaries and 165 free to air TV segments.

In 2009, he was commissioned by Fiji Institute of Technology to establish Fiji’s first Digital Film & TV Production department, which he successfully did in four months, writing its curriculum and also taught at the department, now a part of Fiji National University, from mid 2011-2012.

“It is a very proud moment for all who were part of this film. Our film competed with 100 other films entered by 30 countries and it really touched the chord with all who watched it.”

TIDU was in conversation with Dr Satish Rai, here are his answers:

What is the story of Sahara?

SAHARA tells story of an aging former farmer Amar Singh who was evicted from his farm some 10 years ago. Previously well to do former farmer and his family was forced into living on a squatter settlement. Ten years on, he and his family were somehow surviving; his young wife working in a hotel and his older daughter from his first wife managing to attend university in Suva. Things get worse when his wife is seduced by a businessperson from the diaspora who comes to Fiji to prey on women. After she leaves, the uni-going daughter is dragged into sex trade to provide support  (Sahara) to her family. She is introduced to another businessperson from the diaspora. Sahara continues with the story, touching on sensitive issues of poverty, sex trade, friendship, racial harmony and some of socio-political issues in this educational-entertainment social drama with unusual love angle.

How was its story idea conceived?

Firstly, let me briefly inform you how the idea of this story and script came to me. I became concerned about poverty among Indo-Fijians in Fiji after listening to Prof Subramani speak in Liverpool in around 2002. This inspired me to conduct further research on this subject and I discovered that this phenomenon was linked significantly to the eviction of Indian sugarcane farmers that had started around 1997. Eventually some 5,000-6,000 Indo-Fijian farmers were evicted, displacing some 30,000 people. Many of these farmers went on to live in ever expanding squatter settlements in and around all the major cities and towns in Viti Levu, the main island in Fiji. The unemployed farmers and their children began providing cheap labour to the service and manufacturing sectors. Downturn in sugar industry created more job losses and more joined the squatter settlements and unemployed and low wage earners. A lot of them earned somewhere from $30 to $60 per week. In 2004 I made an 80 mins documentary called ‘Once Were Farmers’ on this subject. I filmed this documentary mainly on the vacated farm areas and in many squatter settlements, getting first-hand experience of the effects of evictions and life in squatter settlements.

Later reports of unprecedented increase in prostitution began to emanate from Fiji. Women and young girls were being engaged in prostitution. During my research and work tour of four months in Fiji (2007-2009) I learnt more about the working practices of prostitution among Indo-Fijians. I saw it happening on streets, hotels and nightclubs. I was informed how desperate university students were lured into prostitution to support themselves for basic needs or even maintaining good lifestyle. I also observed and learnt how tourists provided ready markets for the Indian prostitutes, both for one off sexual encounters and for long-term escort type of services.

When will the film be shown in Australia?

Sydney premier of SAHARA is on 3rd October at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre Cinema. Program starts at 6pm and movie will be screened from 8pm.

How long was Sahara in the making?

Screenplay of SAHARA  was first written in 2011 and was refined in Jan 2015. Preproduction work started in February and filming in Fiji started in mid February and finished in mid March. Filming was done in various locations in Fiji, including existing squatter settlements. Editing as done in Sydney and background score and JPEG2K was done in Bollywood.

Where was it shot?

Filming was done in various locations in Fiji, including existing squatter settlements.


Who is the lead actress ?

satish rai - Joe Zara












Zara and Joe

The lead actress is Zaira Begg, a Fiji model, dancer and beauty queen. Presently she is Miss BA and is vying for Miss Fiji title.

What is the cast of the film?

satish rai - Sahara poster landscape FINAL










Male lead

Dr  Satish  Rai

Main actors (From L-R in the poster)

Anna Tinahee (Fiji)

Vijay Jogia (Liverpool)

Anji Naidu (Fiji)

Satish  with Zaira

Joe Thomas with Zaira (Liverpool)

Nidhi (Fiji)

Ratu Rakuita Tawake (Fiji)

Ashfaaq Khan (Fiji)

Ranjani Lata  (Fiji)

Pramod Kumar  (Fiji)

Kishore Chetty  (Fiji)











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