How I made it: Kasaai (2019)
Kasaai is a political drama that meanders around the struggle of a mother Gulabi to get justice for her 18 year old son Suraj, who gets killed by his impulsive father Lakhan in a fit of rage. Story unfolds with the political equation of the incumbent Sarpanch Purnaram, 60 going awry as his grandson Suraj and the granddaughter of his longtime political ally Bhaggi Patel are caught in an intimate position by her aunt. Irked by the thought of power slipping out of their hands, the family attempts to control the damage but things don’t seem to go their way. Gulabi grapples to get justice for her son as the family tries to cover up the crime under the garb of a concocted story until a turn of event brings for her a new hope, and also turns the table for the family.
92 min | Hindi | Drama | 2019 | India
In its persistent mission and zeal to promote good cinema, the Indian Film Institute brings you the experience of Director & Producer of the film - Gajendra S Shrotriya.
Why this subject matter for your film?
Kasaai represents the grey shade of the character that exists in every human being, and which raises its head when he is driven by greed, power, and ambition. Kasaai is an intriguing story that intrudes on these dark corners of the human mind. The beauty of the story is that despite being a political drama, it unfolds like a thriller.
Further, it very intimately explores the bottom-most level of Indian politics as the narrative moves forward in the backdrop of gram-panchayat elections. Nevertheless, it could also be put as a love story that gets smothered by ambitions, and of ambitions that get stalled by love. The highlight of the story is its leading woman character who against all odds challenges the patriarchy and dares to take a stand for what is right.
Dialogues are in Hindi but an undertone of the local dialect of the region close to Braj lends the requisite authenticity to the script. Some real cracking performances by NSD veterans in the lead backed by a strong technical team from FTII in cinematography and sound departments have done justice to the script. Kasaai is potentially a powerful piece of cinema that is deeply rooted in its soil, and yet represents a universal theme.
Where did you find this story for this film?
Based on a true incident, this story was first published in an acclaimed Hindi literary magazine Pahal, and later became the part of the storybook collection by the acclaimed story writer Charan Singh Pathik. I happened to read it a few years back, and it remained with me for a long time. After several subsequent readings, I was sure that this story was meant for the big screen.
What were the challenges you faced in making the film?
Finding a producer for a story based in the heartlands of eastern Rajasthan was a challenge that could not be overcome until we decided to make the film with the little resources we had. I convinced some of my friends to put in some of the money needed and that’s how we could make the film.
Finding the right cast was another. Convincing artists like Mita Vasisht, Ravi Jhankal, Ashok Banthia, Mayur More, and others to trust me and believe in the story took some time. Working in extreme weather conditions in winters with limited facilities added to our woes.
In short, we faced all the challenges that an indie filmmaker faces when he sets out to make a film with meager resources.
Did you face any problems in releasing the film?
We didn’t release the film in theatres. The film will be released directly on digital medium.
What was your background before making your first film?
I am a self-taught filmmaker. By qualification, I am an engineer and MBA finance.
How do you think filmmakers like you can overcome common challenges like finance and distribution?
Connecting with the right people may be the answer. But the route is difficult. Acceptance comes gradually, so you have to hang on. You just have to be there. Keep working is the mantra. Things will change only with persistence.
How to reach Gajendra S Shrotriya
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/kasaaithefilm
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