Just over 10 years ago, Ishy Din was driving passengers around Middlesbrough in his taxi after failing to get any of his business ventures off the ground.
Fast forward to 2016, and he is now a successful writer looking forward to the opening night of his new play Wipers, a war drama inspired by the first Asian soldier to be awarded a Victoria
Cross after the First World War.
Din, who speaks with a heavy north Yorkshire drawl, told Eastern Eye his fate changed after he bought a computer and responded to a radio advert.
“I was a really bad business man. I had this life of opening a business, failing miserably, being in debt, still needing money, having a mortgage, family and all those regular things. I would go to the cabs to help pay that off, opening another business and failing again, almost like a reset button,” he said.
“I bought a computer for my daughters. I used to resent the fact that they would use it when they came home from school and then they would have a bath and go to bed. I would spent all this money and it would sit there (unused).
“I had heard this radio ad for short scripts for radio dramas. I thought ‘I’ve spent all that money on the computer, so this is what I’m going to use it for’.
“So I wrote this script and sent it off to the BBC. Six weeks later they called me and said, ‘we loved that piece you sent in, we are going to make it.’ I thought ‘actually I can do that,’ and then
it’s been a really long, hard slog to get myself into the position where I feel like I am a writer.”
The father of three has now penned several radio, television and stage productions, as well as short films.
His 2013 drama Snookered, about the lives of four young men and their fragile masculinity, won Best New Play at the Manchester Theatre Awards.
Din is currently developing a legal drama with Endor Productions and a feature film with acclaimed British Indian director Gurinder Chadha.
While doing research for Wipers, which will be staged in Leicester next month, Din travelled to Pakistan to meet the family of Khuddadad Khan.
The soldier was awarded the Victoria Cross by King George V for his bravery at the First Battle of Ypres.
Din said although the play is not directly based on Khan, he is heavily referenced in the piece.
Wipers is set in October 1914, when British forces, bolstered by huge numbers of volunteer soldiers from across the Empire, suffered huge casualties at Ypres in Belgium in one of the first
bloody battles of The Great War.
“It’s the story of four soldiers in the Indian army who came to fight in the First World War (for the British Army). These four men had retreated and sought sanctuary in a barn while there was a
battle raging, and over the course of 10 hours they had to confront their fears and their prejudices, and come to terms with who they were and what cards life has dealt them,” he explained.
Din met Khan’s grandchildren and those who knew the soldier.
He told Eastern Eye: “They remember him as a very humble man who never used to like talking about what happened.
“He never once mentioned that the King personally awarded him the medal when he was recuperating in hospital in Brighton. He didn’t live off past glories, he was a farmer, he loved that and he tended his land. It made the whole thing even more touching.”
Wipers will be performed at the Curve, Leicester; the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry; and Watford Palace Theatre in north London from April 8 to May 21. Go to http://www.curveonline.co.uk for more
information and ticket details.