Produced by and starring BAFTA-winner Ray Panthaki, Keri Collins’s Convenience showcases the best aspects of the British independent film industry. Panthaki stars as Ajay, a quick-witted but indolent petty criminal. Adeel Akhtar shines as his dim but well-meaning friend on the run from Russian mobsters after running up an £8000 debt in a strip club. Together, the two attempt to rob a 24-hour petrol station but are forced to wait until 6am for the safe to open, posing as employees to avoid suspicion.
Throughout the night, they are visited by the kinds of strange customers usually encountered in the small hours, with cameos ranging from the disruptive (Verne Troyer as a racist cowboy who demands to be carried around the store) to the touching (Anthony Head as a suicidal jilted husband). It is unclear why any members of this odd assortment would be visiting a London petrol station in the middle of the night, but the lack of explanation allows greater space for the natural chemistry between Panthaki and Akhtar to develop into a classic buddy-film with heart.
Plenty of hilarious moments ensue, Convenience’s genius lying in the fact that the characters and the audience are forced to remain within the confines of the store for the duration. This allows the bickering, witty one-liners and character-development between the two friends and their hostage, supervisor Levi (Vicky McClure), to gain real momentum, creating a film that is pleasingly led by its dialogue and performances (a rarity in most bigger-budget Hollywood comedies).
Convenience is a thoroughly British effort, with influences ranging from Big Train to Four Lions. It is pleasing to see two Asian actors at the centre of the film, especially in an industry in which both thrillers and comedies tend to favour white, middle-class characters. Panthaki and Akhtar are both serious emerging talents and will hopefully go on to produce more excellent films after this success. Convenience is well-made considering the tiny budget of £80,000 and, despite containing some sloppiness of pacing and plot, will undoubtedly earn a cult status.
Convenience is released online on 2nd October 2015.
Watch the trailer for Convenience here: