‘Sai Dhanshika’s performance in Sinam will fetch her international work’
... says director Anandmurthy, whose short film, Sinam, has won many accolades including five awards at the Best Shorts Competition in California
Anandmurthy, who worked as an assistant director for many years with directors like Kadhir, Ameer and Bala, has tried his hand at filmmaking across many mediums. “I’ve made many documentaries and ads, but Sinam is my first short film,” says the director, who shares that he was inspired by real-life incidents in making this film.
“It’s the story of a prostitute who requests a documentary filmmaker to make a film about her. Why a father pushes his daughter into prostitution, is where the story starts. How a woman protests against society, and how she gets justice, is the idea of the film. I’ve made the film with a twist. Oru Korean padam patha effect irrukum,” says Anandmurthy, who is also awaiting the release of his feature film, Dhileepan, which is based on the life of a Sri Lankan Tamil rights activist.
The main characters in Sinam are Shakthi (Sai Dhanshika) and Durga (Bidita Bag of Babumoshai Bandookbaaz fame). “It was intentional to name them after gods, and there’s even a line where Dhanshika says ‘Rendu perukum kadavul peru vechitu manushiya kooda mathikirathu ille’,” he says. The film, which has won many accolades in the international festival circuit, recently bagged five awards including Best Short Film and Best Actress in the Best Shorts Competition held in California this month.
Sinam is also notable for being one of India’s first monologue films and for having the ‘longest monologue scene’ in the history of cinema. “The running time of the film is a little less than 20 minutes, but Dhanshika’s monologue alone runs for 15.6 minutes. When submitting it to festivals, I had to categorise it under a genre. Though I knew it was a thriller, I also figured it came under non-fiction as it’s based on real incidents. I eventually called it a monologue.”
It took him some time to realise the monologue in his film surpassed the record for ‘longest monologue in a feature film’ (which was nine minutes earlier). “And this, after my editor made me use jump cuts to make sure people don’t get bored.”
The scene was emotionally demanding, he tells us. “Dhanshika had to emote all the ups and downs, and she’s done it brilliantly. The viewers will feel for her. Writing it was easy, but seeing it is a different experience,” says Anandmurthy, who still vividly remembers the day he shot that sequence. “There was pin-drop silence in the entire set that consisted of about 60 people and the only sound we could hear was the trolley moving. Everybody was silent, and some even had tears in their eyes. That was my biggest success.”
The director says it was a conscious decision to rope in actors from different parts of the country. “I consider myself a language activist. I speak seven languages. I like how Bengalis don’t really care about caste and religion. The extremes in the way of life between them and us intrigued me. The liberties women have there, they don’t have here,” says Anandmurthy, who’s used a song to highlight this point. “For the climax, a Rabindranath Tagore song from the 1930s felt ideal and it was recommended by Bidita’s father who’s a lyricist in Bengali cinema. Bidita herself sung the song, and it has been composed by GV Prakash.” The latter apparently said he’ll get on board only if the film was good. “After watching the film, he agreed to work on the single,” he says.
On Dhanshika, he says, “I’ve seen her performance in Paradesi and I knew that only she could pull off this role. She loved the idea and after reading the script, she called and cried on the phone saying she couldn’t sleep as it moved her so much. Her performance has been appreciated in all the festivals so far. It might even fetch her some international work.” But the actor wasn’t happy with how the film made headlines. “People wrote that ‘Kabali’s daughter is now a prostitute’ and she felt really bad about it. In fact, I regretted going to press about the film. But we knew that they’d get it once they see the film,” he says. The makers are yet to decide on the platform in which Sinam will be released.