Producer/Director Sonia Bajaj tells empowering and impactful story in award-winning ‘Rose’
Sonia Bajaj was meant to be a filmmaker. She has an innate talent, combined with an extraordinary work ethic. There is little doubt why she is such a renowned talent, and her achievements as both a director and producer make her a force to be reckoned with.
Many of the films Bajaj has worked on have gone on to see great success at some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. These films include Bekah, Hari, The Best Photograph, A Broken Egg and Impossible Love. Both as a director and a producer, Bajaj has a reputation of being one of the best, but the accolades are not important to her. She loves what she does.
“I have a penchant for women-oriented stories. I’ve always wanted to narrate stories about women to not only highlight women’s issues but also to encourage more films made by women in the film industry. Getting out of the skin of a viewer and becoming a creator is a major transition that happened in my life,” said Bajaj.
One of these stories is her film Rose, which Bajaj considers the highlight of her esteemed career. Rose is about a naïve newlywed who finds herself trapped in an emotionally abusive marriage, and must decide whether she can survive the relationship or death would be her only choice.
“Rose is a tale really close to my heart. In Rose, I see a woman of substance and strength who has many odds against her, including her own emotions,” said Bajaj. “A recent study indicated that that one out of every four women are subjected to domestic violence. More 60 per cent of domestic violence incidents happen at home. Being a woman, this film gave me the chance to depict stories that have happened to other women thereby giving the film a realistic feel. My goal was to encourage women to speak up, gather strength to fight for their rights and highlight the issue of domestic and emotional harassment.”
The film has connected with audiences all around the world. Since its premiere at the Dadasaheb Phalke Film Festival in India where it won Honorable Jury Mention, Rose has gone on to be the most decorated film of Bajaj’s career, and that is saying something. It was an Official Selection at the Regina International Film Festival and Awards, and the Columbia George International Film Festival. It won the Award of Merit at the Accolade Global Film Competition, and the Best Shorts Competition, two Awards of Merit at The IndieFEST Film Awards, and two Awards of Recognition at Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival. It won the Gold Award at LA Shorts Awards, The Diamond Award at NYC Indie Film Awards, Best Drama Short at Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards, and Bajaj won Best Director at International Independent Film Awards. The film also is an Official Selection at Miami Epic Trailer Film Festival.
“I’m humbled beyond gratitude that the film has done so well. Our goal was to have audiences watch this film all over the world. The platform of film festivals has helped us to successfully achieve what we always envisioned,” said Bajaj.
None of this success could have been possible without Bajaj, who was pivotal has both the director and the producer. She also co-wrote the screenplay with co-producer Tushar Tyagi. This was a high budget film, in terms of a short duration subject. Bajaj’s goal was to show the elite life of Rose’s husband, which meant that the locations had to be exclusive, and at the same time create a balance by showing a simple life that Rose led. She had to constantly go between the two ends of a spectrum, making the entire process unique and creatively fulfilling.
The film also required they film several abuse scenes. Bajaj did not want to hire body doubles, and wanted it to look as real as possible, making it relatable to viewers. This commitment to the story was appreciated by not only the audience, but also the cast and crew.
“Sonia is a woman wise beyond her years; I was always in awe of her level of passion for filmmaking and storytelling. Ever since the first day we started working together, she was professional and outstanding when it came to directing her crew and talent. For an actress, it´s incredibly important to feel comfortable and stimulated by the director, and Sonia brought everything and more to the table. I was able to watch her work under the most difficult of circumstances, and not once did she ever crack under pressure; Sonia carried on and gave the best of herself in order to fulfill her project thoroughly. She is someone who has the perfect mixture of compassion and incredible work ethic, and this helps her a great deal when it comes to working on set with all the challenges it entails,” said Nour Milla, the leading actress in Rose. “What makes Sonia great at what she does is that she never loses perspective of the impact she wants to make in this world, and this reflects on her stories and choices as a director. There is always heart in everything she does, mainly because of how much faith she has in herself and the people she works with. I will forever be grateful to her for always respecting my choices while juxtaposing her own point of view. In my opinion, this is what makes an excellent director.”
Because of the vast success of Rose, Bajaj has been asked to transform her short film into a feature length one based on the same concept. The film will be titled Black Rose, and is slated to go into production this fall in Georgia. Audiences everywhere are looking forward to this highly-anticipated film, but for Bajaj, it is more about allowing more people to be exposed to such an important story.
“Having grown up in India and been to both the East and West Coast in the United States, I met several women with varied experiences with domestic violence. These personal stories helped me to create a film that looks believable, relatable and with a woman’s point of view, it gave a fresh look to the subject,” Bajaj concluded. “I’ve always been inclined to make a film focusing on a strong female character. Rose was the perfect opportunity where I could not only focus on a woman lead but also showcase one of the prominent issues many women go through.”