As a woman, living in a country like ours, it is unfortunate to be born a woman, and I say this with a heavy heart. A lot has changed for the better over the years, but there’s a long way to go before we can stop calling ourselves “the weaker sex”. On that note, while women endure much more than what they are meant to, in one of those rare times where it takes a man to pass on the message of what we go through even before we open our eyes to this world, novice film-maker Rahul Nair and his team put out a strong message on female foeticide to ring the occasion of International Women’s Day through his short film ‘Nakusha’. “I thought of this idea 2 years back and made the film at the first opportunity I got! An engineering college in Matunga hosted a film festival in association with an N.G.O. called ‘Laadli’ where the theme was ‘Bandh Karo Man-Maani’ and we were in the top seven”, asserts Rahul.
“This was basically like a sign for Rahul because earlier we couldn’t get the team together to make the film”, quips Ram Ahuja, the film’s cinematographer. Although this is one of their first film’s that’s hitting all the right notes, the team is not new to the art of film making with shorts like ‘The Last Penny’ and ‘Shutter’ taking a place in their filmography. “We concentrated on the screenplay and aesthetics because the concept was quite clear to us. There was a lot that we wanted to say but we restrained ourselves to three minutes”, says Ram. “Also, since our message is conveyed through sarcasm, it’s hard to capture the attention of the audience for long.”
“Siddhi Pathak, who wrote the monologue is someone who understood exactly what I wanted to convey and it worked for us. We didn’t need to spam our friends accounts because people we didn’t know also shared and loved the film”, gushes Rahul about the success they achieved. “As a woman, I could relate to it although I don’t go through the same situations but I have seen so many women suffering”, recalls Sonakshi Malhotra, the film’s producer. “Even my grandmother loved the video and could relate to it. She was the one who came up with the name Nakusha (na meaning ‘no’ and kush meaning ‘boy’) which sends across a strong message”, Rahul says. Adding to that, Ram gives us an inside secret behind the name, “There was a friend of mine who visited a village where there were easily 50 girls who were named Nakusha because the villagers believed that if the girls were named so, the next child would be a boy.”
The underlining point of the film is that it stems from sarcasm of a very dark kind, almost noir in its treatment. Why they wouldn’t go the preachy way with such a topic which people usually do? Rahul says, “The majority of our audience is our age and none of us have the patience to sit through a video forever. We were also sceptical about naming the film Nakusha because most people don’t even know the meaning and for those who do, they’d understand that the sarcasm starts with the title itself. Through this film, we wanted to touch upon other aspects like rape, ogling and the likes.”
When asked if he was rubbing certain political sections of the city the wrong way with a Marathi title, “I don’t think that the 3,000 odd people who watched it so far have taken it the wrong way. If there’s a backlash, that would only be because those people didn’t get the essence of the film”, Rahul says nonchalantly. These words echo the raving reception it received on the day it was uploaded.
“We showed it to a few people from our close circles and the purpose of that was I either wanted people to be stunned or tell me that it is shit. And each one that saw the film were amazed by how well it was made and how we portrayed the message”, Rahul says with a smile. As much as we’d like to stick Rahul into the mould of a creative mind, he stumps us by saying, “For every 3 people who like the film, there are 7 that will not like it. And it is those 7 that I need to get my message to.” “To be honest, we shot the film in 5 hours and our friend Aishwarya Katkade who edited the film showed us 30 seconds of the final cut and we were blown away with what we saw. We couldn’t wait to share it with our friends and we were so excited to put it out. When you have a knack for things, it doesn’t matter what we earn from it as long as we’re still growing”, says Ram.
“The best experience of making this film is that what I imagined and what was penned on paper got translated exactly the way I wanted it to be on-screen”, Rahul says. “The good thing about working on a film with a team you know well is that there’s a lot more perspective that you get from your members. There can never be 2 good insights, one is always better than the other. A country that can get 2 girls arrested over a Facebook post, it is all the more necessary for me to get my point of view, which is right, out in public even at the cost of getting arrested for it”, Rahul signs off.