This is a guest post by Josh Easdon, a squash pro, and a documentary filmmaker. Combining his interests and abilities, he just completed a documentary project, 7 years in the making, about the legendary Pakistan squash player Hashim Khan.
Keep Eye on Ball: The Hashim Khan Story not only captures his life story, but also documents a section of history between England, India, Pakistan, and America up through post 9-11.
Originally, my plan was to make a documentary about the history of squash (a British creation) as seen through the wake in the British colonies. This was a way to hear the voice of people reclaiming something, or rather to reappropriate in this case squash – making it theirs. I thought this idea would allow me as a filmmaker to bring in all kinds of juicy cultural and historic elements – making an interesting commentary of the effects of colonization while letting me travel to pretty interesting places.
Once I realized the scope of this idea and the loose structure – and the mountains of funds I would have needed – I reconsidered. I picked one person on whom to focus: someone who would allow me to draw on some of these elements, but would also make an interesting story for the squash player and the non-player audience alike. That of course is Hashim Khan, the now 97-year-old Pashtun from Peshawar who, as a ball boy on a British garrison, learned a sport that he would change, and at the same time would change the destiny of his family forever.
In 2005, a crew of four, my co-producer Beth Rasin, director of photography Mikie Harlow, audio person Gabriel Cyr and myself, along with Hashim Khan and his son-in-law Rafiq Khan, traveled to the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan to document the origins of this story. I was blown away by the hospitality and the eagerness of everyone we met to befriend us. It struck me that although I was not making a political documentary, this story would document a perspective of this corner of the world in a way that has rarely been depicted on the news in the 7-second sound bite. I knew we had something that was unique, and I was proud to show it to the rest of the world. After more than 200 hours of footage, archival material, music to be composed and raising a budget of over $200,000, Keep Eye on Ball is complete.
Keep Eye on Ball will be screening at the Avon Theater in Stamford, CT, Thursday, November 4th at 7:30PM.
For more information on this screening and future screenings please visit
www.SquashFilms.com. The DVD is available online and the film will be broadcast on the Sundance Channel this winter (date TBA). I hope you get the chance to see it.
If you have questions or comments about the film please pen your thoughts below. Josh will be happy to respond to you.