Anita & Me
About The Cast

MEERA SYAL (Auntie Shaila), wrote and co-produced the screenplay for Anita & Me, adapted from her award winning novel of the same name. Meera Sayal wrote her first play, One of Us whilst studying at Manchester University for a degree in English and Drama, which led her to win the National Studio Drama Award. She has appeared in numerous British television series and films, including Absolutely Fabulous, Sammie and Rosie Get Laid and the comedy series The Kumars at No 42, which was written by and co-stars Sanjeev Bhasker. In spring 2002, she will co-star with Jasper Carrott in a television sitcom, about a racially mixed marriage.

With Sanjeev Bhasker, Meera Syal is one of the team who writes and stars in the ground breaking Asian comedy series Goodness Gracious Me, which ran for three series on radio, and three series on television, winning many awards around the world.

Anita and Me, Meera Syal’s first novel, won the Betty Trask Fiction Award, and was nominated for the Guardian Fiction Award, and has sold a million copies to date. Her second novel Life Is Not All Ha Ha Hee Hee was published to acclaim in 1999 and has been optioned for adaptation to the screen.

Her first screenplay, Bhaji on the Beach, was directed by Gurinder Chadha in 1993.

Meera Syal has written the book for the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Bombay Dreams, inspired by Bollywood, which will star Ayesha Dharker.

CHANDEEP UPPAL (Meena) and ANNA BREWSTER (Anita) are both newcomers to the screen and were cast as the leading roles after being picked from thousands of aspiring teenagers for the role of Anita and Meena. Both were encouraged to audition by their school teachers.

Actor, writer, comedian SANJEEV BHASKAR (Papa) is best known to British audiences for his multiple comic roles in the award-winning television series Goodness Gracious Me, which he also writes, as part of the team which included Meera Syal. The series began on radio, then transferred to television, where it gained large audiences as well as critical praise.

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Other television appearances include roles in comedy series Small Potatoes, The Grimleys, and Bhaskar wrote and starred in the recent comedy series The Kumars at Number 42, where he cast Meera Syal as his grandmother.

On film, Bhaskar made a cameo appearance in the romantic comedy blockbuster Notting Hill, starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, and will soon be seen in Merchant Ivory's Mystic Masseur, where his co-stars include Ayesha Dharker and Zohra Segal.

AYESHA DHARKER (Mama) began her film career at the age of nine, when she played the lead role in the French film Manika, The Girl Who Lived Twice, co-starring with Julian Sands and Stephane Audran, which won a prize at Cannes Film Festival. She is soon to be seen on screen in a leading role, as Queen Jamillia, in George Lucas' Star Wars 2.

Born and raised in Bombay, Dharker has acted all over the world, coming to international attention for her lead role in The Terrorist, directed by Santosh Sivan. The film won three awards at the National Film Awards, as well as a nomination for Best Actress for Dharker, in addition to three awards at the Cairo Film Festival, which included Best Actress.

Other recent roles include leading roles in Arabian Nights, the Emmy award-winning Hallmark mini-series, and the Merchant Ivory production Mystic Masseur.

Ayesha Dharker will take the leading role on the London stage in Andrew

Lloyd Webber's new musical Bombay Dreams, written by Meera Syal.

KATHY BURKE (Deirdre) has emerged as one of Britain's best known actresses, with leading roles in drama and comedy on television and film.

Her television credits include appearances in award-winning comedy series Absolutely Fabulous, Harry Enfield and Chums, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, Common As Muck and Tom Jones (both the latter directed by Metin Huseyin), and the drama Mr Wroe's Virgins, for which Burke was awarded the Best Actress at the Royal Television Society Awards.

Kathy Burke was named as Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her performance in Gary Oldman's Nil by Mouth. Other film roles include Dancing At Lughnasa, directed by Pat O'Connor, the Oscar nominated Elizabeth, directed by Shekhar Kapur, David Kane's romantic comedy This Year's Love, and Kevin and Perry the Movie, co-starring with Harry Enfield.

She will next be seen on screen starring in Shane Meadows' Once Upon a Time in the Midlands, starring alongside Rhys Ifans and Shirley Henderson.

LYNN REDGRAVE (Mrs Ormerod), a scion of the famous acting clan, (daughter of Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson, sister of Vanessa Redgrave and Corin Redgrave), was already a veteran of stage, screen and television when she was nominated for her first Academy Award in 1966, for her leading role in Georgy Girl. The film gained her a nomination for the BAFTA as well as winning her a Golden Globe and a New York Film Critics Award. In 1997 she was nominated for a BAFTA for her supporting role in the multi award winning film Shine, and in 1997 was again nominated for a BAFTA, a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Oscar for Gods and Monsters, for which she won a Golden Globe Award, an Independent Spirit Award and the London Film Critics Award.

For her television work she has been nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe, for the series House Calls.

On Broadway, Lynn Redgrave has been twice nominated for a Tony Award, for her roles in Mrs Warren’s Profession (1976) and Shakespeare for My Father (1993), her autobiographical one woman show.

Beginning in 1963 with a role in the film Tom Jones, Lynn Redgrave’s screen career spans more than fifty films, most recently appearing in David Cronenberg’s Spider, opposite Ralph Fiennes.

In 2001, she was honoured by Queen Elizabeth II, who awarded her the OBE (Officer of the British Empire).

MAX BEESLEY (Hairy Neddy),since graduating from the Guildhall School of Music, has established careers in acting and the music business. He has played with Style Council, Paul Weller, Brand New Heavies, Jamiroquai, Earth Wind and Fire, George Michael, Take That and Chaka Khan.

On television Metin Huseyin cast him as the lead in the BBC drama Tom Jones. This was followed by leading roles in the films The Match, directed by Mick Davis, Five Seconds to Spare, directed by Tom Connolly, Stephen Norrington's The Last Minute, and Hotel, directed by Mike Figgis.

MARK WILLIAMS (Uncle Alan) is best known to audiences as part of the award-winning

comedy team who write and perform television's The Fast Show. After studying English at Oxford, Williams toured for three years with The Mikron Theatre Company, and appeared on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Royal Court as well as London's West End.

He has appeared in a range of television comedy and drama, including the epic television adaptation of Gormenghast, the award-winning Tumbledown, the comedy series Red Dwarf, Peak Practice, Randall and Hopkirk deceased and, most recently, Shackelton, directed by Charles Sturridge, starring alongside Kenneth Branagh.

Film roles include the Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love, directed by John Madden, The Borrowers, directed by Peter Hewitt, and 101 Dalmations, directed by Stephen Herek.

Born in Kensington, British born Iranian OMID DJALILI (Uncle) has played an Azerbaijani in the James Bond adventure The World Is Not Enough, a Moroccan slave trader in Gladiator, and a Cairo prison guard in The Mummy.

Other recent film appearances include roles in Spy Game, with Brad Pitt and Robert Redford and The Mean Machine, produced by Guy Ritchie and starring Vinnie Jones.

When not filming, Djalili presents his one man stand-up comedy show to

sell-out audiences around the country.

ZOHRA SEGAL (Nanima), now in her eighties, has a career spanning stage, television

and film, both in the UK and her native India.

Recent film appearances include roles in Gurinda Chada's Bend It Like Beckham and Bhaji on the Beach, scripted by Meera Syal, Merchant Ivory productions Mystic Masseur, The Courtesans and The Guru, and John Mackenzie's The Honorary Consul.

On British television Segal has appeared in series including Tandoori Nights, The Bill and the award-winning epic Jewel in the Crown.

Zohra Segal is a leading actress and Dance Director of Prithvi Theatre, Bombay, in addition to being vice president of the Indian Peoples Theatre

Association and Principal of the National Academy of Dance and Drama in New Delhi.

Release date: 22 Nov

Certificate: 12A

Running time: 93 mins