‘Ashwatthama highlights how religion can be misused’
..says the film's director Pushpendra Singh, who hails from Chambal
Shot almost entirely in black-and-white monochrome with splashes of colour, Ashwatthama revolves around a nine-year-old boy, Ishvaku (Aryan Singh), who spends a winter with his relatives after his mother is killed in an attack by dacoits. The sensitive child is shaped by the characters he meets and the fields and hillside that lie beyond his house.
On the concept of the film, director Pushpendra Singh says, “It started with religion... How we see religion, the way it shapes us and affects us. It is all from my memory. I was born and brought up in Chambal. The whole film is like a dialogue with myself. It had a negative as well as positive impact on me.”
“The film addresses how religion can be misused. It can be a support in our low days as well. It helps you overcome the bad times. You have something to do everyday, a ritual to complete everyday and it keeps you engaged,” he adds.
The director, who also co-produced and acted in the film, says he has himself witnessed dacoits and claims that the weapons were “easily available” in their area.
“Like we see in the film, the moment the word would go out that dacoits have entered the village, people would actually climb up the terraces, and firing and gun shots were a common phenomenon. That experience has stayed with me,” Singh says.
Ashwatthama has been screened at a number of film festivals including the Busan International Film Festival, Mumbai Film Festival and Dharamshala International Film Festival.