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Kaushik Ray

Spotlight of the Month

Law & Art presents art made by lawyers from around the world, and turns the spotlight on one new lawyer-artist each month. As May begins, we are delighted to introduce our first lawyer-filmmaker, Kaushik Ray. Partner and Head of Global Strategy at Trinity International LLP by day, Kaushik moonlights as a filmmaker and recently launched his debut film, The Lime Green Shirt.

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Kaushik's Story

When one looks at Kaushik's legal career, the conclusion is clear: Kaushik has been busy. After years at Allen & Overy LLP, Kaushik moved to Trinity International LLP in 2009, a boutique law firm where he now co-heads Trinity's Francophone and DFI practices and oversees the firm's Paris and Washington DC offices. He is specialised in project, corporate and property finance transactions, across a wide range of sectors, and has experience in all major economic centres of Africa, South and South-East Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Central America. 

In parallel to his busy legal practice, Kaushik has cultivated a passion for creativity, and more specifically for filmmaking. As the curator of Law & Art, Kaushik's work sparked my interest immediately. How can one be both a lawyer and a filmmaker? I reached out to him to learn more about his work. Kaushik explained:


I never intended on becoming a filmmaker. During Covid, I started writing a screenplay, without really knowing what I was doing. I did a few courses online and eventually created something that, luckily for me, was picked up at Cannes in 2022.  The producers insisted that I also direct it - and so I began a process of learning about film direction, all of which culminated in me writing (very quickly) The Lime Green Shirt, my first short film.  I filmed it in early 2023 and spent some time on the edit.  I managed to write it quickly because I drew predominantly from my own lived experience. 


As you'll see from the trailer below, the film tells the story of a Bengali immigrant mother as she grapples with the unintended consequences of her strict parenting and tries to reconnect with her estranged son, Akash. Akash wanted to be a singer from a young age, but that dream, alongside his queerness, was quashed through his education. What I found interesting was to take the point of view of the mother - a woman in her late 60s. Have we seen films that centre the immigrant mother of a queer child? How might an immigrant Asian woman's upbringing affect how she parents in a foreign land? My film explores acceptance in an immigrant household, and what that means." 

Reflecting on his love for filmmaking, Kaushik adds: "I love art in all its forms, but I think accessibility is key. Cinema is one of those mediums that is democratic. With the age of smartphones, it can also become a very personal experience. I think we all need stories to help us get through the day-to-day, and a film portrays a message not only through dialogue, but through compelling visual language. It is that combination of art, design, drama, and hope that I think only cinema can deliver so effectively."

Kaushik's Work

The Lime Green Shirt, by Kaushik Ray


Kaushik explains: "When I was a teenager, I bought a lime green satin shirt from River Island with all the pocket money I could muster. I wore it to a singing competition at school, paired with spiky hair and silver rimmed sunglasses. For a kid in a school with 99% of the other pupils were white, it was quite a look but I'm glad to say that my performance brought the house down. I was so excited after the school singing competition, I wanted to share that story and happiness with my family. When I got home from school, I was met with anger and ridicule at the sight of me in the satin lime green shirt and was told to throw it away and wash the crap out of my hair. As an adult looking back, that incident really epitomised the denial of the queerness and joy that I had been expressing. The lime green shirt in my film fulfils the same role as a metaphor for queerness.

There is a message I am conveying through this film: the importance of understanding. For those who had their queerness quashed, I would love them to try to understand where the fear and shame of the parents comes from.  Scratching beneath the surface of those fears can be therapeutic. Equally, I have a message for any parents of queer kids, which is to be careful not to clip the wings and free-spiritedness of your child. I would love people to consider the complexities and dualities of the characters. Some will take Akash's side (particularly on hearing his songs and his voice) and feel that the destruction of the titular shirt (and thereby his own queerness) was unforgivable. Others may feel that Saraswati’s means are justified by the end. I hope viewers reflect on the pressures that Saraswati herself was under, dealing with the burden of the transgenerational trauma of poverty compounded by being a widowed single immigrant mother."  

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