A boy named Godse in a village school is first harassed and then subjected to violence purely because of his surname. Nathuram Godse was Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin. And in the process, Gandhi’s own tenets are forgotten!
Kiran Productions’ “And Gandhi Goes Missing” (“Ani Gandhi Haravale Gele”) is a 19-minute short feature produced from his own story concept by G.K. Desai and directed by Devendra Shivaji Jadhav, two enterprising Maharashtrian film-makers in Hindi and Marathi (with English subtitles). The film is now being shown (Aug. 16) at Babylon Cinema in Germany’s Indian Film Festival. It will soon be shown in the Netherlands and Canada, and has already been showcased in Norway, Teheran Film Festival, Russia and Korea besides the Cairo Children’s International Film Festival, the Asian Film Festival and so on.
Says Desai, who spoke to India-West on the eve of his departure for Berlin, “Kamlesh Sawant’s character represents the deep-rooted prejudices we have. This is the first of my patriotic trilogies – the two others have their scripts locked and the cast finalized. ‘Netaji Alive’ will star Manoj Bajpayee and “Sardar Fights Back” (on Sardar Patel) will star Irrfan (Khan). My films speak of the blurring of lines between right and wrong. We are opposing the very values these great people stood for.”
Desai decries the euphoria over the six medals India (with a population of 12.5 billion) won at the Olympics. “A small country like Korea has won over 40 medals. This small-mindedness and lack of ambition is eating into our nation,” he said.
The film is shot with a Reid Camera, a digital one with a 4k resolution. “We blew it to a 35 mm print.” Desai plans to come out with a 60-minute DVD of all the three films. They will also be approaching Doordarshan and private channels, and plan to strike a deal on Amazon.com as well.
“The film aims at jerking us of our somnambulistic apathy. How can we just watch and tolerate such mayhem that a mob of 20,000 can run riot in a prime Mumbai area because of something that happened in Assam?” thunders the filmmaker, who is known for previous such work and is often spotted in god friend Madhur Bhandarkar’s films in cameo and now a major role in forthcoming “Heroine.”
Desai accepts that the dark tenor of his films is tailored to festival appreciation rather than the public but he says that he has used symbolism for the violence and not overt sequences. “The idea is to show also that we are not all like the conditioned characters shown here. Unlike Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire,” my film does not demean India or spoil our image,” he said.
His director, Devendra Shivaji Jadhav, has been a documentary filmmaker of repute, having made notable films like “Yelammachi Daasi” (“Daasis of Yelamma”), “Tobacco Workers Of India” (shot in real locations) and “Lalbaugchaa Raja” in association with internationally renowned production designer Nitin Desai.
“Desai saheb conceived the idea much before even ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai,’” says Jadhav, who adds that from V. Shantaram and Satyajit Ray to Shyam Benegal and more, many directors have begun their careers like him with documentaries or shorts, and continued making them after being established.
Jadhav is now directing the Hindi “Ram Naam Satya Hai” and the Marathi “UthaaMohanrao Uthaa,” two hilarious comedies. About “…Gandhi…,” he says he shot the film in Sai Bangurda, a remarkable old-world village bang in the middle of the luxurious Royal Palms estate in Mumbai near Film City. The school was in another suburb, but due to its backdrop he could only shoot it from some angles as a village was the venue of the school and story
“Everything just feel in place while making the film,” said Jadhav. “Desai saheb and I were introduced to each other in a Mumbai theatre by a common friend at a film festival. This was many years ago, and right from the introductory handshake we hit it off like old friends.”