directed by Waris Hussein
UK 1997


  Bombay, 1962: Sera Kotwal (Souad Faress) gives birth to Brit (Firdaus Kanga), a boy whose bones are so brittle that he can just hiccup and break a rib. Based on Kanga’s acclaimed autobiographical novel, Trying to Grow, Sixth Happiness is the funny, acerbic and moving story of a young man’s sexual awakening as family life crumbles around him.

Located within Mumbai’s Parsee community, the film shows a thoroughly non-stereotypical Indian family. With powerhouse performances from Kanga and Faress, and featuring great support from Nina Wadia (Goodness Gracious Me), Indira Varma (Bride and Prejudice) and Meera Syal (The Kumars at No. 42), Sixth Happiness manages to turn just about every stereotype about India, disability and sexuality on its head.

Firdaus Kanga, who also wrote the screenplay for the film, describes the story as a ‘re-imagination’ of his childhood and youth. Blurring the boundaries between fact and fiction even further was the decision to cast Kanga himself in the role of Brit even though he had no experience as an actor. Kanga’s creation – both as writer and performer – resists drawing Brit as either martyr or victim. Brit is bright, spiky, opinionated and selfish with a razor-sharp tongue. He prefers the Kama Sutra to Shakespeare and does not allow gender to come in the way of his desire for sex.

Theatrical Release: October 4th, 1997 - Mill Valley Film Festival

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL

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Distribution BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 1:34:21 
Video 1.63:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.12 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 4.0 Dolby) 
Subtitles English, None

Release Information:
Studio: BFI Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.63:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary with Firdaus Kanga (with removable subtitles)
• Interview with
Firdaus Kanga and Waris Hussein (15:17)
• 2-page liner notes by Robin Baker

DVD Release Date: March 28th, 2005

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 18




Quite acceptable image for a non-anamorphic DVD. The image looks very consistently TV-like with decent colors and relative sharpness. Strong black levels, removable English subtitles and some astute extras make for quite a comfortable package. The commentary is worth the price of the disc alone. A bit of a forgotten film, another that BFI make available to us, for which we thank them. We recommend.  

Gary W. Tooze


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