Thrice is nice!

Thrice is nice!


Triple Talaq

The polemical topic of triple talaq, a practice empowering a Muslim man to end his marriage with three words, has been a theme of Bollywood films over the years.

The issue continues to interest filmmakers as evidenced at the recently-concluded Bengaluru International Film Festival 2020, where two films on the subject were screened by two different directors ­— one in Kannada and the other in Beary, a language spoken by the Muslim Beary community.

Yakub Khader Gulvady’s Triple Talaq was unique, in that he wrote the script, directed the film and essayed a small role, too. So, why another film on the same, controversial subject, I fire my first salvo. “I have seen victims of triple talaq at close quarters including in the Beary community and my own family,” is his quick riposte. “I had to make a film on society’s injustice to Muslim women and send out a message that a divorced woman can lead a happy, meaningful life and find her true self.”

Gulvady’s Triple Talaq revolves around the life of Fatima, a Beary woman who is twice a victim of the misused talaq system and left to fend for herself with two little children and no financial or emotional support. It depicts her trials and tribulations working as a domestic maid to raise and educate her kids as also the implications in view of the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2017, declaring the practice of talaq as unconstitutional and a criminal offence.

For a global audience

Gulvady hails from a village near Kundapur in Mangaluru, and belongs to the Beary community that is spread across coastal Karnataka and Kerala. Made on a small, self-funded budget, Triple Talaq, with English sub-titles, premièred at Bristol, UK in December and in Kundapur before the Bengaluru screening.

“The response has been very encouraging so far, particularly in Kundapur where the 1,200 audience included judges, lawyers, district officials, activists and women who watched the movie,” says Gulvady. While he’d want as many people as possible to see the film, he is acutely aware that there’s no guarantee of large audiences for films such as his. “This is the sad reality of parallel cinema,” he smirks. Gulvady plans to reach out to countries such as Iran, Iraq, Canada, the UK and others, seeking a wider audience and aims to participate in many film festivals worldwide. 

“My job is to make films, why should we be burdened with other jobs. It is the government’s job to help promote good, socially relevant films and get us some money,” he laments, suggesting that the government should set up Janata theatres.

Yakub Khader Gulvady

Learning curve

Gulvady modestly admits that the film left much to be desired in terms of technical finesse, cinematography and dialogue delivery, a view echoed by some who watched the Bengaluru screening. “It was my directorial debut, so it was a learning curve for me.” As a film producer, Gulvady already has a National Award tucked under his belt. The Kannada film Reservation won the National Award (Rajath Kamal Award) for Best Feature Film in the regional language category in 2017. 

The film, directed by Nikhil Manjoo, deals with the issue of misuse of reservation system in our society. The film was also adjudged the best Kannada movie at the Bengaluru International Film Festival, 2018 and was an official entry at some film festivals including the
Melbourne International Film Festival.

After dropping out of middle school, Gulvady started a scrap metal business, that, among other things, brought in many old books and magazines also into his shop and this sparked his interest in reading.  A prodigious reader, human interest and social issues captivated him greatly and since then they’ve been a vital part of his life. He has stood up bravely for various causes along with social workers and activists. “Given what is happening in our country today, it is not easy to talk about certain issues such as religion. I felt cinema is a good avenue to highlight issues and enlighten people.”

Deeply influenced by filmmakers such as Girish Kasaravalli, Nagathihalli Chandrashekar, Nikhil Manjoo and short story writers such as Vaidehi, Gulvady is keen to make socially relevant films despite some daunting challenges — mainly funding. He is currently working on a script which he hopes will be completed by the end of 2020. “I have found my calling and all I want is to make good films that can have an impact on society,” he smiles.