The writer and director of new action comedy Polite Society has revealed how working on two episodes of Doctor Who helped prepare her for the action sequences in the film.


Nida Manzoor – who is also the writer and creator of Channel 4 sitcom We Are Lady Parts – directed the episodes Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror and Fugitive of the Judoon in 2020, and she explained that although Polite Society was undoubtedly a step up, those previous credits stood her in good stead.

"My episodes of Doctor Who that I directed have some fight scenes because the showrunner and the writers knew I loved action," she explained during an exclusive interview with "So they put in some fights for me [which was] really cool.

"So I'd worked with Crispin Layfield, our fight choreographer, on Doctor Who and I had that relationship with him. And this was a whole new level for me – so it's so nice to get to work with Crispin again. I trusted him, I knew how brilliant he was with actors."

Priya Kansara as Ria Khan and Ritu Arya as Lena in Polite Society. Parisa Taghizadeh / Focus Features

Manzoor added that both Layfield and martial arts expert Rob Lock were "incredible" and also praised star Priya Kansara for doing many of her own stunts.

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"I felt like a kid in a candy shop coming to them with all my favourite fight references and seeing what I could do, what I couldn't do, and how they tailor the fights to the actors," she said.

"I really wanted the actors to do as much of the fighting as they could because there's a real honesty when you see an actor doing the stunts, a truth to the performance. Priya Kansara does so much of her own stunts – and I feel like you see it, you see her embody the character so well in the film!"

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For her part, Kansara said that although the process of learning about martial arts and how to perform stunts was a challenging one, it was one she relished.

"The entire process was so new, like, I'd never done martial arts before this film," she said. "I was coming into it really new.

"And so I guess part of the challenge was feeling like I was at a good enough standard when it came to the martial arts, but also ensuring that I was breathing Ria into literally every movement and every beat and finding that balance – finding the ability to have that energy to go through each day, especially when the shoot days can be really intense."

Priya Kansara as Ria Khan and Ritu Arya as sister Lena in Polite Society. Focus Features

Kansara added that she enjoyed doing the action scenes so much that she's looking to work in the genre again at some point in the near future.

"Oh my gosh, I love it so much," she said. "I continued doing jujitsu afterwards as well because I really enjoyed it. So yeah, I'd love to do more action!"

Polite Society follows wannabe stuntwomen Ria (Kansasa) after she decides that she and her friends must pull off a wedding heist to stop her sister from getting married – with dramatic consequences for all involved.

And Manzoor explained how a wide range of influences inspired the film – from The Matrix to Edgar Wright to Bollywood.

"The starting point was really drawing from the movies I loved growing up," she said. "The key ones being Jackie Chan movies, I remember The Matrix being a huge one for me, as well as all the comedies I loved, like Coen Brothers movies, Edgar Wright films.

"Just getting to honour all the cinema that I grew up on and I really love including Bollywood as well, which gets a big nod. And just wondering if I could make a film that centres a South Asian teenage girl, and it be an action film, and it play in the cinema. That was my dream!"

Polite Society is showing in UK cinemas from Friday 28th April 2023. Check out more of our Film coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.


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