There is obsession with the mother figure: 'Aise Hi' director Kislay

Shubha Dubey

Dharamshala, Nov 10 (PTI) 'Aise Hi', directed by debutante Kislay, revolves around a widowed woman trapped in the image of 'Mother India' and the filmmaker says the genesis of his first film was society's obsession with putting mothers on a pedestal.

But the problem arises when the woman deviates from the path laid out in front of her by society and starts listening to her own calling, the director said.

Kislay, an alum of Pune's Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), said the idea behind the film was to flip the perfect and self-sacrificing image of 'Mother India', portrayed by Nargis in the 1957 film. 'I envisioned this film as a parallel to 'Mother India'. In that time, there was this kind of nationalism through the concept of Mother India, where everyone would identify with it. The nation is building and the nation is growing.

'But now everything is like 'cow is the mother', 'mother tongue' or 'motherland'... There is this whole obsession with the mother figure and eulogising it. However, if the mother starts taking liberty than everyone has a problem,' he told PTI in an interview.

'Aise Hi' was screened at the ongoing Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) on Saturday, where it received an overwhelming response from the audience.

The film follows the septuagenarian, Mrs Sharma (played by Mohini Sharma), who recently lost her husband and sets out to do things that she was earlier deprived off.

It recently toured Busan International Film Festival and Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival before arriving at the picturesque town of Dharamshala.

Kislay believes the society wants to keep its mother figure on a 'pedestal and keep saluting her till the time she is self-sacrificing and caring for her children and also society.' 'That was the genesis of telling this story. I have also incorporated parts of ‘Mother India’ in the movie,' he added.

The film, set in his hometown Prayagraj, also makes a commentary on change of city's name from Allahabad. It was incorporated in the story at a later stage, the director said.

'This story initially dealt with only the old woman. But then the kind of situations prevailed in my hometown of Allahabad, that started to affect the story. Allahabad's name change to Prayagraj was a late addition. I felt that like the characters, the story should also show the city's journey of its own.' Kislay, however, said that making a social commentary was never an agenda behind the film and it organically found a way in the story.

'The commentary comes from your concerns and we wanted the audiences to understand our concerns. Why do people change and what do they do to change. I approach it like that, rather than thinking that 'I have to make a commentary on this issue through the film'. I want to say that I'm living my life and I have a concern as an individual.' He said he has tried to focus on every character in the film.

'I thought other characters should be as important as the main character in the sense that it should not see her journey but others as well so as to understand their thinking too.

'And it was difficult to give other characters their space. So in terms of how to show and how much to show, we had to strike a balance that does justice to each character. We had to choose the moments that had to be there in the film. So that no character feels left out.' The 2019 edition of DIFF concludes Sunday. PTI RB SHDSHD