This year the Indian Panorama section of International Film Festival of India (IFFI) showcases a wide range of films that have gone beyond the ordinary and have touched upon various topics and social issues that are prevalent in the society.
At the ‘Meet the Directors’ press conference directors of five feature film ‘Bhayanakam’, ‘Bhor’, ‘Dhappa’ ‘Uma’ and ‘Baaram’ were present.
Speaking about his film ‘Bhayanakam’, director Jayaraj said: “It was surprising to discover that more than 600 soldiers from a small village in Kerala lost their life during the World Wars. There was no historical documentation or importance given to these people neither did anyone know anything about them. Through the film we did not show much of the War but tried using the perspective of the postman who himself is a First World War veteran and is going to this village to distribute money orders and letters to the family of soldiers as a symbol of happiness but later turns out to be an omen of death once the Second World War starts.” For Jayaraj his films are part of his series through which he tries to highlight several social issues and incidents.
Similarly, Kamakhya Narayan Singh’s film ‘Bhor’ highlights the issues of the Musahar community of Bihar which people are not very aware about. “I spent most of my time in Bihar and there I came across this community who were happy with their poverty and never grumbled much about it. I wanted to take this part to the audience and therefore, I have tried to show a newly married girl who struggles for education and sanitation after her marriage,” said Kamakhya.
He also spoke about how it was hard to get the main actors and the other cast and crew to work in a village and how he had to keep the originality alive in the film. “I wanted to show, how people are and how they earn their daily wages and to bring this originality to the screen, we had to stay with the villagers and built a rapport in order to understand the whole scenario,” added Kamakhya.
The Marathi film ‘Dhappa’ by Nipun Avinash Dharmadhikari highlights the issue of communal disharmony and how people in the society tend to differentiate on the basis of religion. Nipun explained how in his film he has brought out the aspect of communal problems. “It is based on how a political group in Pune disrupts play rehearsals based on Jesus Christ and Sant Tukaram. While the children don’t find anything to object about in the play that will be staged during Ganesh Chaturthi, the elders have a problem and therefore the children then try to make the elders understand,” he said. Adding that such instances take place a lot over time and therefore, there is a need for society to open-minded and welcome new ideas.
‘Uma’, film director, Srijit Mukherji was touched by a true story and decided to adapt it into a film. “I read about a news item that happened in St George in Canada where a boy wanted to experience Christmas and the snowfall during that time but he did not have much time as he was diagnosed with a disease and therefore, to fulfil his last wish they faked a Christmas season. This touched me a lot and based on a similar story I made Uma,” said Srijit.
Priya Krishnaswamy, director of ‘Baaram’ shared her experience about the film and said that there are several things going on in the society and people today are forgetting the elements of kindness, gratitude and sincerity. “We came across a practice where the elderly parents were killed by their children or relatives as they were consider a burden and they did not want to take their responsibility. We discovered nearly 26 ways by which they would kill their parents which were heartbreaking and shattering,” she said.
The filmmakers also demanded that the festival create ways through which they can take their films to larger audiences.