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Culture vulture

Tutvinder Mann loves anything French or avant-garde

Best book ever

I read a lot, mainly in French. Roger Vaillaud's 325,000 Francs is the story of a man obsessed by cycling who dreams of becoming a great racing cyclist but loses his hand in a factory accident. It's a simple story that says a huge amount about dreams, myth, reality and disappointment. I've read it about 15 times.

Best film ever

My master's degree in French studies at Birmingham University covered French cinema. I had an inspiring teacher, Susan Hayward, and I've a collection of about 500 films. I'm a John Cassavetes fan and his film Shadows is like 325,000 Francs in that it's about real people and real problems. Made in 1959, it's about two brothers and a sister, a trumpet player, a writer and a singer, who are all different shades of black. The girl has a paler skin and her boyfriend realises she is black when she takes him home and he meets her brothers.

Issues on stage

I am a Sikh and I was ashamed at the furore over Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti's play Behzti, which had to be cancelled in Birmingham. Nothing about being a Sikh has to do with censorship. Sikhs should be able to deal with self-examination. People had a choice not to see the play, but my choice to see it has been removed. I am appalled that something like this should be done in the name of Sikhism.

To share with pupils

I'm planning to take Year 11s to Paris after their exams and hope it will mean to them what my school trip to France meant to me 25 years ago. That was my first trip out of Britain and it was wonderful being in a city where they do things so differently.

Looking forward

To Cirque du Soleil performing Saltimbanco, which will be a very theatrical, dazzling performance at Star City in the north of Birmingham.

My partner is a dancer in Kathak (classical north Indian dance) and we are both looking forward to seeing the work of choreographer Pina Bausch (pictured) at Sadlers Wells this month, about as avant garde as you can get.

Tutvinder Mann is head of languages (and a former pupil) at George Dixon international school in Birmingham. He worked for the Commission for Racial Equality before opting for teaching. He was talking to Elaine Williams

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