A love story in the Mumbai locals
Faraz Ansari’s directorial debut Sisak is India’s first silent LGBTQ short film, and hopes to make some noise in favour of the community
Even as a four year old, Faraz Ansari loved to tell stories. There was something about it that appealed to him, and becoming a filmmaker is all he has ever dreamt of since. He studied film-making in the US for six years and has been working in the industry for some time. Wanting to create films that were mainstream and yet stood out in some way, it took him two years to write the script of Ravivar. When he approached producers and actors for the film, even though they liked the script, he was turned down because the protagonist was a homosexual. It was during this time that he would aimlessly travel in the local trains of Mumbai, silently observing everyone around him. The conversations he eavesdropped on in his commutes is what gave birth to Sisak.
With limited funds but ample drive, Faraz set out to script, cast and shoot this film, which is currently in the post-production stage. “The film, I decided, would be silent so as to resemble how the voices of the LGBTQ community had been shut down by Section 377. I hope that the film can be a political statement. It was a couple that I met during my train journeys that inspired the thought. They had been dating for five years,” he shares. Sisak has been shot in the Mumbai locals over a period of three nights, with a heterosexual crew that worked on it free of cost.
Writing the script was not an easy task, he recollects. He wanted to show relationships being built and bonds being formed, without dialogue. The characters in the film do not even touch each other, and yet one can sense the intimacy that they build during their train journeys. The budget of the film was so minimal that there was no monitor to check the scenes, or spare time on hand for re-shoots. There was, however, three weeks of intense research and study that Faraz did with the lead actors Jitin Gulati and Dhruv Singhal. Jitin plays the role of a corporate guy in the film, who can afford a much better ride, travels by train for the comfort of intimacy that he finds simply being around others. Dhruv portrays the character of a young boy also lost and in search of some sort of connection. This research, he tells us, ensured that during the shooting, everyone knew exactly what they were doing, leaving minimal space for errors.
“It was my experience of travelling on the locals that motivated me to make this film. I saw a world that exists in the middle of all the chaos that the Mumbai stations are well-known for. The film, I am hoping, will reach out to people from outside the community and stir up things so filmmakers like me don’t have to face rejection when we write scripts with homosexual characters,” he adds. Faraz has made a few other short films like Syberia, which has been to 46 film festivals to date. He remains committed to Ravivar, and hopes to be able to cast Ranbir Kapoor in it.
Originally published on The Golden Sparrow