By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, Sep 16, Indian film “Soul of Sand” is creating a buzz at the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival and director Sidharth Srinivasan says his film exposes in a provocative way the underbelly of National Capital Region (NCR), seen as the symbol of new emerging India.
“For me, the NCR is an outpost of progress. It is a landscape where forces of modernity are on collision course with tradition. Everybody talks about the symbols of the region’s growth story, but nobody talks about the underbelly of this story,” Srinivasan told IANS Wednesday.
Shot around Surajkund and the Aravallis, the film captures the ugly underbelly of the gleaming symbol of modern India through scenes never seen in a mainstream Bollywood movie.
The film begins at an abandoned silica mine and revolves around its watchman Bhannu (Dibyendu Bhattachrya) and his wife Saroj (Saba Joshi) and their landlord Lakhmichand Ahlawat (Avtar Sahni).
“But the most poignant part of the film is the love between Ahlawat’s daughter Twinkle (Geeta Bisht) and lower caste guy Dya (Abhishek Bannerjee), which ends in honour killing. In that sense, the film is an Indo-Greek tragedy,” says the director.
With its many competing themes, the film shows how land has suddenly become the central part of life for a traditional society and how honour killings, caste politics, corruption and exploitation of the underprivileged by their masters hide the ugly reality about the NCR.
“This film may be about the NCR, but it addresses issues which are central to any developing society today. But it is very Indian film that addresses issues coming out of the conflict between modernity and tradition,” said Srinivasan.
“At the core of the film is land. In the suburbs of Delhi, people are selling lands, which they never did in centuries, under the pressure of modernity. They have got loads of money, but they have a hole in their soul now. They don’t know what to do and you know everyday how this emptiness in their lives is manifesting,” he said.
“Soul of Sand” is one of the four Indian and two India-themed films which premiered at the film festival that ends Sunday.
Last year, Konkani film “The Man Beyond the Bridge” wowed the movie goers here and even won the discovery award by critics.
(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)’