25 Nov 2021  |   05:29am IST

A good mix for everyone

From three people stuck in a flat due to the virus and a movie celebrating the genius of a musician it was all happening at IFFI and yes they paid their respects to the first James Bond, Sean Connery
A good mix for everyone

You sell your stuff, you start selling gold and your house to make that movie. This is the level of desperation and determination required to make a movie. For Menka Sharma, one of the writers of the movie Alpha Beta Gamma, the determination to make the movie was all consuming. It is a madness not understood by anyone outside the industry.

Her movie Alpha, Beta, Gamma is set amidst the deadly COVID 19 virus that spreads across the globe, when a woman, her almost ex-husband, and her about-to-be husband are locked down under one roof for 14 days and they realize that it is very difficult to move on and even tougher to let go. Jai’s directorial career is on the uptick, though his marital life is on the rocks and he is trying to move on with his girlfriend Kaira. Mitali, his wife – wants a divorce so that she can marry her engineer boyfriend Ravi, who is sober and caring, as against her unpredictable soon-to-be ex-husband. When Jai drops in to talk divorce, Ravi is in the flat, the same flat that once used to be Jai and Mitali’s house, ‘Talli Galli’. Ravi realizing that it will be awkward for the estranged couple to discuss divorce in front of him decides to leave. But before one of the men can make way for the other in Mitali’s life, the Coronavirus lockdown intervenes. Now three souls afflicted with the love virus struggle to decide what they want, and at what cost, with nowhere to go but inside.

Another movie which was a labour of love was “Me Vasantrao” by Nipun Dharmadhikari. The film, which is also competing for the coveted Golden Peacock Award, awarded to the best feature-length film selected from all over the world, explores the untold story of what happened in the musician’s life before he became famous. Born in a village in Vidarbha, Maharashtra and then raised single-handedly by his mother in Nagpur, Vasantrao’s life presents a canvas of exciting events – events which shaped his life and eventually his music. Diverse life events which shaped him include the master’s unique friendship with P.L. Deshpande and Begum Akhtar, life in Indian Military Accounts, learning music in Lahore, his posting to the Indo- China border during the war of 1962, and performing in Katyaar Kaljaat Ghusl, the play which made him a force to be reckoned with. The versatile role of Vasantrao Deshpande has been played by none other than his grandson and prominent contemporary classical singer Rahul Deshpande. Speaking about his role, the director said: “Rahul Deshpande and I have worked and revived Sangeet nataks together. Despite not being an actor by profession, he played the role very diligently.”

Dharmadhikari said it took him two years to make the script ready as he found Vasantrao Deshpande a hard man to grasp. “I wanted to know why he made his life choices. It was probably events in his early life that made Vasantrao decide to not pursue his singing passion early in life, though he was known to be one of the best singers of his time. He was also not very good at networking; we have shown that fact very honestly in the film.”

The director informed film delegates that he has tried to be as true to Vasantrao Deshapande’s life as possible. Two instances which took place towards the later stages of his life were also incorporated in the film.

Commenting on the reach of cinema and the reception of the film at IFFI, Nipun Dharmadhikari said: “When the movie was screened yesterday, even non-Marathi viewers came to us and told us that they could relate with the characters shown in the film. They said they would like to watch this movie, dubbed in their languages. I am not very sure whether this will happen, however, OTT has expanded access. But I believe that cinema eventually reaches its audience; it is a timeless art, hence I am hopeful.”

It was also a day when the festival paid its respects to Sean Connery, the first actor to portray British secret agent James Bond on film. And yes the c word as in Covid came into the picture too. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp relief the isolation and sense of aloofness that can co-habit the modern urbanized and networked world. Yes, loneliness is a grave worldwide affliction which needs our immediate and focused attention, so says The Knocker, a short film on one man’s loneliness and solitary confinement and the inner struggles it gives birth to. Ananth Narayan Mahadevan spoke the bitter truth in no uncertain terms: “In cities, we have become insensitive to life outside our periphery, we have become hyper-active and hyper-emotional within ourselves. Loneliness has become a serious disease all over the world and it is affecting a lot of minds. It is something that has to be paid attention to before it goes out of hand.”

The film is about a man living all by himself. He becomes lonely when he suddenly hears a knock on his front door.

Matters become more complex when the knocks become routine. As if to add fuel to fire, strange things begin to happen inside the house. Mahadevan explained to the delegates that these phantasmagorical happenings make the man wonder whether what he experiences is a figment of his imagination, an adventure of the mind. “The film poses the question: is the knocker outside or inside you? It becomes abstract because the protagonist gets confused between reality and imagination. A psychological drama of the mind unfolds, and the protagonist has to figure out how to solve it.”

Revealing the genesis of the film, the Director said: “I had read about this American who lived all alone in a villa, who suddenly had a very eerie feeling that he was not alone in the house. So taking off from that, I made this film on being alone and then being lonely and how this man who lives all by himself actually imagines things. He knocks on his front door but when he opens the door, he sees nothing.”

Mahadevan explained that the film is an attempt to explore the psychic conflicts of men who live alone in cities, for years on end, due to work or other commitments. “Basically, the question is that people who live in the metropolises, who live in pigeonholes, people who are creative and sensitive to things, are they somehow damaging themselves by hallucinating and imagining things? How does it impact their lives? This is the plot of The Knocker.”

It was an interesting day when loneliness caused by the virus and exploration of a man who was not easy to approach made for quite an experience.


Idhar Udhar