‘I wanted to tell the world about marital rape’
..says Rahul Riji Nair, director of Ottamuri Velicham, which won the State Award for Best Film
At a time when even the law lacks words to define marital rape, Rahul Riji Nair thought of making a film about it. Not just a peripheral attempt, but a hard-hitting one to shed light on one of the most common acts of domestic violence.
And, for the makers of Ottamuri Velicham, the State Award for Best Film has come as an immense confidence boost. "We didn't obviously do this for an award. At the same time, we knew this wasn't the type of film that people would swarm to watch. But this film handles a subject that needs to be told," says Rahul.
Ottamuri Velicham, that had premiered in the Goa Film Bazaar, is already doing the rounds in festival circuits. "We just want it to be known as a good film," says the director.
Rahul says that Ottamuri Velicham wasn't planned as a film that deals with marital rape. "In fact, what drew me into the venture was the single-room houses that can be seen in the labour colonies in high-range areas. Usually, large families stay in them, and a girl who is married into such a family may find her privacy violated. If the husband isn't sensitive about her rights and emotions, then the marriage can turn into a nightmare. Discussing the topic made me realise that it was marital rape that we were talking about," he says.
Then came the research part. Rahul says he approached many NGOs as there weren't many reference materials. "In fact, what shocked me was the fact that even the Indian Penal Code defines rape under domestic violence," he adds.
The film, with a strong women-centric narrative, also won Vineetha Koshy a Special Jury Mention for her portrayal of the hapless wife. "Casting was important. Ironically, Deepak Parambol and Vineetha were always identified as comedians. But, they were such good actors that they internalised the conflicts. But then, the politics between the characters was clear on paper, so they could prepare well," says Rahul.
As of now, the makers of Ottamuri Velicham have decided to stall the theatrical release until September, so that they can complete the festival run. The film is already in the final rounds of the New York Film Festival.