Friday, September 7, 2007

Director's Note

Making this film has been a cathartic process and also a realization of one’s own shortcomings.

We are all so caught up in the whirligig of our careers, relationships and life in general that we have forgotten to pause and look at the person next to us - at an airport or café or on the streets – or for that matter even paused to see ourselves. A line in this film’s song sums it up tragically – ‘Everyone is so distant nowadays; one’s own shadow seems a stranger’.

So it’s no surprise that we hardly know or care about those who are stigmatised and marginalized - a transsexual, a commercial sex worker or just a street sweeper outside our house. We know nothing about them, apart from stereotypical notions.

We have tried, in this film, to give a voice to some of the people ignored by the society or misunderstood by us around. We felt it was perhaps time to listen to them, peep into their world of tears and trauma and discover their happiness and hopes.

This film is certainly made with a purpose – of bringing some of the stories that we have not cared to stop by and look, into focus. It is not a bugle call for action, but just a soft reminder to pause and reflect and make an effort to understand.

Maybe we can all wipe a tear, hold a hand… or maybe write the next 68 Pages.

~ Sridhar Rangayan, 2007


Director: Sridhar Rangayan

Sridhar Rangayan has consistently combined entertainment with social issues to make sensible cinema, which has brought him international acclaim. His debut short Gulabi Aaina (The Pink Mirror) about Indian drag queens was banned in India, but became a huge festival success, winning several awards. His feature ‘Yours Emotionally!’ pushed the boundaries even further by being one of the few films to ‘give a clear and concise picture of gay Indian life with great emotion and honesty’ (Amos Lassen on Amazon). His recent film ‘68Pages’ is a searing portrayal of five different people who are stigmatised and discriminated by society.

Filmography: Gulabi Aaina (2003), Chakkad Bakkad Bumbe Bo (2004)
Yours Emotionally! (2006), 68 Pages (2007)

Sridhar Rangayan's wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sridhar_Rangayan
Company url: http://www.solarispictures.com/

5 comments:

GayMan said...

I watched this movie a few hours ago at a Gay Bombay film show at National College, Bandra, Mumbai.

A sensitive portrayal of “minorities” and issues most Indians would rather brush under the carpet. The movie is “on your face” without being apologetic about it. The characters have been played by superb actors and all, except Uday Sonawane, are professional stage artists. Uday has acted very well indeed and should seriously take up acting.

It does not paint a pretty picture of either the gay community or the lives of cross dressers. It does not sugar-coat the harshness of HIV. And therein lies its beauty. It does take some dramatic licenses on the role of the counselor - no mental health professional can afford to get so close to her patients. Nor are HIV test reports handed over to people without pre-counseling. But these minor aberrations can be excused considering that the movie has to move on.

I have been to the Humsafar Center (at Vakola, Santa Cruz, Mumbai) several times and have observed, with detachment and some disdain, the people who frequent there. “Class” raises its ugly head to a middle class newbie at the Humsafar counseling center. This movie reminds us that, “there, but for the grace of God, go I”. Are they so very different from us? The cross dressers and the prostitutes? As Mansi the counselor thinks of the prostitute weeping at the hospital door – who are we discriminating against? The HIV patient, the prostitute or the woman? They are human beings all. With hopes, fears and ambitions.

When the Indian government doles out condoms to truck drivers and commercial sex workers it forgets that prostitution has little to do with sex and a lot to do with money. In the movie, when the cross dresser says that he knew about the dangers of contracting HIV without using “chocolate” (condom) and still went ahead, he brings a harsh reality to the fore - how many CSWs, when faced with starvation, will refuse a client who insists on going “bare-back”?

I am gay and the antics of the gay couple in the movie held special interest for me. I rooted for them and expected them to stay together in the end. Alas it did not happen! In reality, however, the HIV+ couple is with each other for the past four years. It gives me a bitter-sweet feeling. On the one hand this movie shows a gay couple and on the other it makes one promiscuous and HIV+. It certainly doesn’t fit my picture of monogamous gay relationship – an “LTR” (Long Term Relationship)! But, hey!, life is not about coochie-cooing gay lovers in the drawing room who live together happily ever after. Let’s face it – there is enough and more promiscuity in the gay world. Most of us stop at the ideal.

All in all, a great movie for the thinking audience.

68 Pages - the film said...

Thanks 'gayman' for your frank and appreciative feedback. We value it immensely. We surely hope to address some of your concerns in our future projects. Thanks and always play safe :-)

suraj said...

Fanatastic movie !!! Its amazing that how well the movie deals with Aids issue in taboo scenarios : Drug addiction , prostitution , transsexual behaviour,homosexual relationship etc and ties them into one plot in true bollywood style. The directors / Aid Activist should consider releasing it on television – as it can be the most effective ways of communicating the Aid issue.

Shankar said...

Thanks Suraj for your encouraging response. We hope to reach wider soon.

68 Pages - the film said...

DVDs of the film are now available on Amazon : http://astore.amazon.com/solarisp-20
To buy in India please visit www.humsafar.org/68pages/dvd.htm