The recent Kannada film ‘Sakutumba Sametha’, is a meticulously directed film by debutant Rahul PK.
Under two hours and shot at a couple of principal locations, the relationship drama has excellent performances, but what stands out is its screenplay. It shines with freshness and stays consistent.
Writers Rahul and Pooja Sudhir offer us a realistic yet engaging portrayal of behind the scenes of a typical Indian arranged marriage. They dig deep into the complexities of relationships across age groups. The duo spoke to Showtime on the maiden feature, produced by Rakshit Shetty’s Paramvah Studios.
What drew you to the less-explored theme of arranged marriage?
Rahul: I have seen my friends go through the process. Right from finding an alliance to finalising it, the whole exercise is very interesting. Marriage is seen as a milestone episode in one’s life and everybody has advice for the individual. Everybody has an opinion about it.
Pooja: Rahul was ready with the initial plot and he was very clear that this must be a story of everyday people. As much as we see people in relationships the fact remains that most of our marriages still take the arranged route. Hence we wanted to be relatable to all.
This is a conversational film with excellent dialogues and not a big-scale project with several twists. How did you pitch such a film to a producer?
Rahul: I have been working with Rakshit since ‘Ulidavaru Kandante’ (2014), so he trusted me. Also, being a writer and director himself, Rakshit understands the value of storytelling. There was hardly any interference from him. He had a few ideas, like introducing a plumber in the plot. He felt if an outsider gets entangled in the conflict, it could be interesting. We aren’t sure if we succeeded in executing it the way he had envisioned. For him, the magnanimity lies in the story and not scale.
What’s running inside the mind of the heroine? Is there a specific reason behind her decision to back off from the wedding? Is she worried about her career or compatibility?
Pooja: I am in that phase where a lot of my friends are choosing their partners from the arranged marriage setup. For me, it is so scary to think of choosing a partner like that though I don’t have anything against the concept. We wanted to look at what happens when a woman says ‘yes’ out of some compulsion. When the wedding date nears, things get real for her, and she feels she is not ready. It could be because of different reasons like how different the boy is (from what she perceived to be) but the bottom line is she isn’t ready.
Rahul: Yes. The fact that she isn’t ready must be respected and taken seriously enough to put the wedding on hold.
The majority of the film takes place in the boy's house. Why does it need a lot of fixing?
Rahul: We were depicting a middle-class house and we wanted to show how we adjust with things that need to be repaired, like a door handle or a leaking sink.
Pooja: That apart, we were bringing some sort of power play in the entire situation. That is, the heroine is the one calling off the wedding but she comes as a guest to the hero's house. So we wanted to capture her awkwardness.
Does the film take a stand on arranged marriage?
Rahul: Our intention wasn’t to offer a commentary on arranged marriages. We were looking at relationships. We wanted to convey that relationships are always a work in progress. The idea of a partner is much romanticised in popular culture. I don’t call it entirely wrong but there needs to be a reality check. Also, I have seen men whose first relationship is the courtship before an arranged marriage. They wouldn’t have had girlfriends before. So when rejection happens in such a phase, it hits their self-esteem and confidence. That’s what we were showing in the film.
The film also talks about the value of communication…
Rahul: A lot of our communications happen in text. Even if we can write long messages, it’s not as effective as talking. So we put people in situations where they can have in-depth conversations.
Pooja: I believe a lot in communication. Even if we get involved in uncomfortable discussions, they still solve a lot of things.
What is that one common feature in your writing?
Rahul: My characters must always have layers. They are never black or white. They are grey.
Pooja: Empathy is a nice quality for writers to have. I don't judge anyone and this attitude rubs off on my characters.
What’s the film about?
In 'Sakutumba Sametha', days ahead of her wedding with Suri (Bharath), Shraddha (Siri) decides to call it off. The two dysfunctional families meet to discuss the break-up.