No happily ever after endings for Nagraj Manjule
"I got the impact better without any sound and I think you choose to listen to the stories according to your sensitivity Despite there being pin-drop silence in the theatre, I heard the collective sound of a people What I wanted and expected I wanted them to question that are we really alive or have we become so dead in our hearts that we can't hear the cries of a tragedy"
By Radhika Sharma
New Delhi, May 22 Marathi writer-filmmaker Nagraj Manjule says he shot the end of his 2016 blockbuster "Sairat" without any background score or dialogues because he wanted the violence in the scene to hit the audience.
Caste polarisation and honour killings, the theme of the much acclaimed film which begins as a college romance of two unequals, are issues that continue to impact the lives of millions across the country, Manjule says.
"Lots of people have suffered and are still suffering because of casteism. I have too. I thought I should tell such stories. I feel our stories reveal who we are. I will not talk about the moon and the stars because I do not relate to them," Manjule told PTI in an interview.
The director believes filmmaking is a medium capable of shaking one from within and that is what the silent climax of his National Award-winning film does.
Manjule, 39, says newspapers and TV channels talk about such stories every day but somehow people have become immune to these tragedies.
"There is a noise that does not let these voices reach out to us. I wanted people to watch the climax without any sound, so that they are able to hear themselves and understand what they feel."
"Sairat" starts with a youthful, chirpy track of two college students, played by Akash Thosar and Rinku Rajguru, belonging to different castes falling in love. But the bloody climax jolts the viewers out of their complacency. And that is what usually happens in our country, the director says.
"The end of 'Sairat' is what it is. It could not have ended in any other way. What tends to happen in our country when someone even tries to think about loving or marrying someone from a different caste. This is how it ends."
According to Manjule, who hit the national spotlight with his debut film "Fandry", Hindi films have created such an illusion of 'the-happily-ever-after' that one actually expects something unreal to happen.
"But you can't change the reality. It is quite obvious something like this will happen but it may come as a surprise to you because you are hopeful that something good will happen... That the older, orthodox generation will try to look the other side. This is your hope that surprises you in the end."
"Sairat" broke box office records by becoming the most profitable movie ever made in Marathi.
The director says he watched the film in theatres and understood that his experiment had worked when he experienced pin-drop silence as the titles played out.
"I got the impact better without any sound and I think you choose to listen to the stories according to your sensitivity. Despite there being pin-drop silence in the theatre, I heard the collective sound of a people... What I wanted and expected. I wanted them to question that are we really alive or have we become so dead in our hearts that we can't hear the cries of a tragedy."
The director was in the capital recently to showcase "Sairat" at India Habitat Centre's film festival.