Silence of the society

Socially-relevant film

Silence of the society

If there is one film industry in the recent past that hasn’t compromised on its creative extension for commercial survival, it’s the Marathi film industry. From Oscar nominated ‘Court’, an engaging courtroom drama inextricably weaved with domestic personal angst to ‘Natsamrat’, a film that traces the life of a theatre stalwart, it’s now time for ‘The Silence’ to come under the spotlight. 

The director and screenwriter of the film, Gajendra Vitthal Ahire, was in the City recently for the eighth edition of the Bengaluru International Film Festival. With a rich, looming career of 42 movies to his credit, which swing from socially relevant angles to politically correct ones, the international acclaimed and multi-award winner has delicately and sensitively dealt with a theme in the movie that is considered a taboo in society — sexual abuse and domestic violence.

     Based on a true story, the plot revolves around a little girl, Chini, who is molested by her uncle and consequently pushed into a dark world of gloom, hopelessness and mental trauma. With the past and present interwoven in this short production, the intelligent screenplay and tight script unfolds through the stream of conciousness and holds a gripping suspense.

Gajendra won the ‘German Star of India 2015, Director’s Vision’ award at the Indian Film Festival in Stuttgart. The movie is produced by Ashwini Sidhwani, who came across this case of sexual abuse while she was researching a few stories with an NGO in Mumbai and then approached Gajendra. He quickly adds, “I am not a social worker. I am only a film maker and made a movie as I thought that a story needs to be told.

On whether it will actually create a change in the mindset of society, I have no answer.” Apart from the subject, the sound is an equally significant aspect in the movie. For the Marathi film with an English title, Gajendra roped in the band ‘Indian Ocean’ for the music, whose songs are like a breath of fresh air in such a serious topic. “Music plays a very important element and some of the highlights are actually grasped by the strong sense of sound with the interplay of silence. ‘The Silence’ actually depicts the silence of society to surroundings.

The strength in quality and content seems to be a recurring aspect in Marathi cinema and Gajendra attributes this trend to sweeping changes that took place in the industry in 2003. “Content-driven films were being churned out by Marathi directors then. Soon, an audience was created that came to theatres and festivals and looked for art cinema. This led to many more such films and growth in the quality of directors.

As the digital space hit the screens later, budding actors and directors also didn’t want to compromise on content and were inspired to make good movies. Not to forget, the support from the government also counted. I can proudly say that Marathi cinema gets a lot of support and sponsorship.” However, doesn’t Bollywood stand as a strong contender and deterrent to Marathi cinema. He adds, “There is a huge Bollywood market of course, but we don’t look at it as competition. There is plenty of space to coexist in Mumbai. ‘Natsamrat’ did very well at the box office.” 

And would he like to come to Bengaluru again, “Of course. I love Bengaluru and I am very happy to see such a crowded film festival. The cosmopolitan audience here allows for a variety of films to be showcased and accepted.”

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