Private Project

The Forbidden Note

Cosmo (Reese Scholtz), a South African pianist falls in love with Sakeena (Reena Anjali), a British Muslim ballerina, who is being forced into an arranged marriage by her abusive radicalised Uncle Jehandar (Umit Ulgen).

Through their struggle, Cosmo tries to show that the power of love is far more important than the love for power.

Cosmo seems like the perfect choice for Sakeena, but he is running away from a dark past which catches up with him as he tries to prove his love for Sakeena. Her engagement ring goes missing and she suspects Cosmo has stolen it. He pleads with her that he couldn't steal from her, but does confess that he was ordered to steal her ring by a ruthless gangster who brought him up.

Sakeena tells Cosmo she doesn't want to see him again, and begins to think she would be better off obeying her Uncle’s demands and marrying a man she will never love.

Only ever wanting true happiness, the pair begin to fight for their freedom to love each other, but this leads to her family discovering the truths about what their Sakeena has been doing behind their backs. Feeling betrayed, her Uncle Jehandar arranges an honour killing and promises her family that she will never step a foot out line once he's finished with her. He hunts down the two lovers, and chases Cosmo to the rooftops of his apartment, then cuts open his throat which causes him to be thrown from the building and fall to his death.

  • Callum Andrew Johnston
  • Callum Andrew Johnston
  • Callum Andrew Johnston
  • Reese Sholtz
    Key Cast
  • Reena Anjali
    Key Cast
  • Rishi Nair
    Key Cast
  • Umit Ulgen
    Key Cast
  • Michael Oram
    Key Cast
    Little District
  • Michael Schiniou
    Key Cast
  • Ali Storm
    Key Cast
  • Shiraz Khan
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    romance, drama, thriller
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 55 minutes 5 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 15, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    50,000 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Callum Andrew Johnston

Born in 1991 in Crawley, West Sussex, to Natasha (Vincent), a homemaker, and Paul Johnston an Engineer. He grew up in the town he was born and began film making on the local streets at 17.

Callum had already written and directed RH11 & Crossed Paths before he was 20 and received a full scholarship to attend the NYFA (New York film academy), but failed to graduate because he had to leave early for family reasons.

Upon returning to the UK he began writing and directing Little District which premiered at the Cannes Film festival. Beginning his career in front of the camera it is at this stage he started to understand his passions burned to be behind the camera moving onto producing, writing & directing full time.

In 2014 Callum finished writing The Forbidden Note which was a controversial romance drama about a Muslim girl falling in love with a Non-Muslim. This film premiered at Cannes 2015 before releasing on AmazonVOD in 2017.

A year after The Forbidden Note was released on Amazon, Callum started to work as Head of Production at Red Face Film which is a company that specialises in Islamic films. At Red Face, he helped work on One Day in the Haram (A film by Abrar Hussain) which is a feature documentary about Mecca. This is regarded as the most successful film ever made on The Haram. One day in the Haram has now been viewed in over 195 countries and has massed an audience of 40 million. This is still growing today and has recently been re-released in cinemas in Canada, USA, South Africa, Pakistan and the UK.

Shortly after the success of One day in the Haram for Red Face Films, Callum and Abrar collaborated again on One Night in Al-Aqsa which is a feature documentary about the inner workings of Masjid Aqsa in East Jerusalem. This film premiered at Leicester Square in 2018 before a successful cinema tour in late 2019 and early 2020. Recently, this film was pulled from Cinemas around the world due to the Covid19 outbreak.

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Director Statement

Thinking back to the first day I began writing The Forbidden Note is a blur, I was 19. I remember why I wanted to write the film, I just can't remember doing so... I finished writing The Forbidden Note at 20, and the journey to getting the film off the page and onto the big screen became a tenacious feat.

I've always been someone who is been passionate about seeing people live together happily, no matter what their background is. I'm a big believer in multicultural societies, and I feel they can only work when people respect one another.

That is what triggered the idea of The Forbidden Note... I wanted to create a story which showed how easy people try to manipulate each other to get what they truly desire, and not what the other person truly desires. I'm a spiritual human being, and believe that with positive thoughts, I can attract positive things, and there's no greater positive than love. You don't need to love one another as if you were happily married, you just need to show compassion for others who live here on planet Earth with you.

When I look around my social bubble, I could feel many people looking in wanting to burst it,destroy my happiness. I don't feel it's malicious... maybe other people don't like seeing other humans happy when they're not.

I write with the law attraction in mind, allowing the law of attraction to control my characters. If they want something, they get it, if they don't want something but keep saying they don't want it, they still get it. The language of the universe is that simple... nothing compared to the language of other races and cultures.

As human beings, we should understand one another a lot more clearly than we currently do. Putting ourselves in boxes and telling each other that 'I am...' is off putting. Why can't each and everyone one of us say... 'We are...'. The word I stands alone... the only thing 'I' want to achieve is being able to make films that will inspire and bring happiness to billions. I just want to make the world happy!