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MOVIE: SAANKAL

Saankal or Shackles tackles social issue and is based on true events.

In the middle of the Thar Desert of Rajasthan there was a village plagued by its own rituals, taboos & social obligationsBoys were allowed to bring girls from other community as their brides but their own community girls were aging. To avoid any dilution in the blood due to inter-cast marriages and to resolve the issue of aging single women, the village elders called for another tradition that backfired. The single women were forced to marry little boys who had not even attained puberty. Their belief was this way daughters of their community won't go outside & the boys will not be able to get girls from outside of their community. The ill effects of this tradition have been conveyed through this film "Saankal" (Shackle).

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INTERVIEW WITH DEDIPYA JOSHII, Writer and Director, Saankal 

 First off, we want to bring to you our interview with the person who is responsible for bringing this socially awakening movie. Dedipya Joshii is the person credited with writing, screenplay and and directing Saankal. When you hear our top notch directors like Rohit Shetty talk of "being scared" to venture away from churning out same old bollywood masala because he is "targeting a certain audience" (result being Dilwale), you have to wonder where do new comers or lesser known film-makers find the courage to 

bring forth films that actually contribute toward the divine cause of uplifting women from the claws of rules made in the name of "tradition", supposedly to protect the "culture" but somehow end up victimizing the women and children. So here is one such man. Dedipya Joshi brings to the international fore-front a social issue from the remote corner of Rajasthan state of India. Here we speak to him about his venture, Saankal, that is very close to his heart.


Sonal Kulshrestha: Mr Dedipya Joshii, I was very touched by Saankal. So tell us, what sequence of events led to the making of Saankal?


Dedipya Joshii: See, right from the very beginning, I have been observing such social issues and measures taken in order to give a solution. I am also familiar with my responsibilities towards society but I have not been a social worker nor I had enough will power to go and help the problem stricken people like a social worker. One such regret had been in my heart that how can I fulfill my duties towards society. For cinema was my passion and my heart was deeply sad at the misery of society then one day the idea of amalgamation of passion and social message came to me and thus started 'Saankal'. This was the one real life story which deeply moved me. Movie is based on true events. There are many Kesar & Abeera (lead characters in the movie) in that community. These characters are the reflection of the ill effects of malpractice.


Sonal Kulshrestha: With the showcasing of the movie, you have done an excellent job of bringing the issue of the women and young boys who are at the receiving end of malpractices in the remote corners of India. What is next- what do you hope will happen next? What is it that you hope to achieve further from the movie, apart from bringing forth their story?


Dedipya Joshii: I think society is changing and there is no authority responsible for this nor any government has done this job. The one and only reason, education has played a crucial role. And since the film is being shown at different places people are getting more and more aware of this practice. In fact this has reached the Chief Minister and the matter is in concern in a government department too, therefore we have succeeded in our mission.


Sonal Kulshrestha: As a society, how do you think the aam janta, the audience, can contribute toward the cause?


Dedipya Joshii: Laymen are a great force, they can make happen anything they want. Only this much contribution from them is enough that they cautiously deal with any such news or documents based on such practice and share it as much as they can.


Sonal Kulshrestha: Tell us a little about your experience of taking the movie around the world.


Dedipya Joshii: I am extremely glad about the appreciation Saankal has got till now. In almost 25 festivals we have 32 nominations and 9 awards in hand. Seems like the dream team Pisceann had seen has turned into reality. Thank you so much. :)


Sonal Kulshrestha: Thank you so much for your responses and the photograph too. Truly appreciate it.


Dedipya Joshii: Thanks a lot to u too ma'am :)

Cast: Chetan Sharma, Tanima Bhattacharya, Harish Kumaar, Jagat Singh, Samarth Shandilya & Milind Gunaji
Screenplay, Written & Directed By: Dedipya Joshii

Produced By: Aanand Rathore & Dedipya Joshii

(Credit: Info Social Media Fan page of the movie)

ALL CREDITS FOR THE TRAILER BELOW GOES TO The Maple Designs and Developments - Ireland. You may subscribe to them directly at their link. 

MOVIE REVIEW ...

GO WATCH BECAUSE ...

1. The cast completely impresses. The relatively unknown lead pair- Chetan Sharma and Tanima Bhattacharya leave a mark that stays with you long after you have exited the theater. Both Chetan's and Tanima's body language and expressions talk and convey way more than any words possibly could. You know what they are thinking/ feeling/ experiencing in every single situation, in all the scenes- such is the power of the role that they not just play, but seem to live. 

The cheerful young boy, Samarth, instantly wins your heart from the very first scene- the moment you set eyes on him. The jump in his feet, the wide smiles- nothing takes away from the plight the society imposes on him, and that tugs at the heart strings.

2. The Rajasthani garments and accessories look beautiful- as do the village setting.

3. The plot forces you to brood over the stories of those who find themselves shackled to the traditions and culture that stem from ignorance and lack of education. The movie certainly provides for excellent fodder for discussions that would eventually lead to understanding and solution.


OVERALL ...

The movie, although extremely hard to watch at times, is a good watch with your 17 and over young children to educate them on the atrocities perpetrated on women and children by the so-called guardians of our traditions. It literally educates the global audience on the significance of education to one and all (as Tanima says, in the interview below), if victimization has to be stopped in the name of religion and culture.  

Go watch this movie wherever it is legally released- in theater, film festival,  Netflix, DVD. Remember though that this is not for the faint-heart-ed. If it get too intense for you, remember there are those who live it. For their sake, educate yourself about their plight. Perhaps there might come a time when you get an opportunity to help one such person out, even though for now you may not take any action. If nothing else, the movie certainly teaches us to be a little more compassionate to fellow human beings.

Author's notes...

I had the privilege of watching Saankal at the DFW South Asian Film Festival. Dedipya Joshii and Tanima Bhattacharya who were present at the screening were later available for a Q&A with the audience. It was a pleasure to see them interact with the international movie goers and field questions. 

INTERVIEW WITH TANIMA BHATTACHARYA, FEMALE LEAD, SAANKAL: 

Tanima Bhattacharya as Abeera in Saankal (above) and the young lady in real life (right) 


Sonal Kulshrestha: So how did Saankal come to you?

Tanima Bhattacharya: 

I feel Mr. Dedipya Joshii had full faith on me that I can do justice to ABEERA in SAANKAL ( Shackle )

So he gifted me Abeera.

He gifted me SAANKAL ( Shackle ).


Sonal Kulshrestha: :) And you did an awesome job! 

Tanima Bhattacharya: Thanks :)


Sonal Kulshrestha: Our beautiful and colorful culture has secret ugly and dark sides. To what extent do you think films work towards taking action against these while exposing them?

Tanima Bhattacharya: This was the only one way for us to stand for them (those who are victim of such a side of culture). Because we can't go door to door. 

After watching our film each and everyone from different corners of the world came to us to know about them. And yes I must say this kind of thought can change the ritual. 

Obviously we can not be 100% sure but we can hope for the best. 

That is why the director ended the film with a positive ending .


Sonal Kulshrestha: Very well said! First the information and message, then action and change!

Tanima Bhattacharya: Yesss. And thank you :)


Sonal Kulshrestha:  While acting in the lead role, you certainly conveyed the helplessness of the women (bound by traditions and the decisions of the panchayat) to defend themselves. What is the one thing, in your opinion, that would empower these women to raise their voice?

Tanima Bhattacharya: Education


Sonal Kulshrestha:  Totally. Sorry for such heavy questions. The movie was heavy enough. I'm sure there were light moments on the sets that you all enjoyed and bonded over. Could you share any?

Tanima Bhattacharya: No need to say sorry dear . I love it because I really feel happy that all of you are loving our film and asking about all those women and mainly that you are all feeling for them. Changes can come only this way .

Now about light moments. Yes, there were few light moments too

First of all, our whole team of SAANKAL ( Shackle ) is always friendly. 

2nd there was a scene where paanch came to gulab's house and he was shouting at Kesar. You know it is a very intense scene, but the Panch , I mean Mr. Sanjeev Bohori was there in our shoot as associate director too, so he was forgetting his lines. Sooooo in that intense scene it was really fun because we all were laughing after every cut. And then we would turn right back and give the shot too:)


Sonal Kulshrestha: :). Oh yes, I can imagine the fun cuts ..

How were the adorable little boys to work with?

Tanima Bhattacharya: Oooo it was a great experience because he is a superb actor. After reading his script he not only remembered his lines , he was ready with my lines too. I was really amazed with his dedication.


Sonal Kulshrestha: The younger Kesar?

Tanima Bhattacharya: Yessss the kid ... Samarth

Sonal Kulshrestha: So sweet! 


Tanima Bhattacharya: I need to say one thing without which my interview can't be complete. It is about my co-actor Mr. Chetan Sharma. It was not possible without him. I am a big fan of him. He played two shades in SAANKAL ( Shackle ), one is 15 year old boy (the teenager) and another one is the 21 year old young man- when we (actually) play husband and wife. 

Yesss he made my acting for ABEERA more easy with his awesome support. Even in dubbing- to make my pronunciation totally clear.

It was really great chemistry. I am honored and blessed that he was there with me as my co-actor and always supportive as a honest friend and a good heart-ed person.


Sonal Kulshrestha: That's beautiful! Thank you so much for your time! Truly appreciate it. 


WE SAY ...

Tanima Bhattacharya is exactly right. Like we hear in the movie, police visits remote villages only when somebody dies. With the result, the fate of the villagers lies at the hands of panchayat that is more often than not comprised of uneducated few who impose their "wisdom" on those barely aware of their rights, fully aware they're doomed either way. Bring education for all in this sad mix and voila- there is information, there is awareness, there is confidence and a definite possibility of justice!

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AWARDS & ACCOLADES 

Saankal has been screened at several film festivals in India and internationally. Some of its international screening are as follows-

1) The indie gathering -Aug 2015, Cleveland, Ohio, USA 
( Awards- 
a) Best Female Lead. 
b) Best Foreign film. )

2) Russian International Film festival, October 2015, Online. (Awards- 
a) Best Film.
b) Best Actress. )

3) Shaan E Awadh International Film Festival, Nov. 2015, Lucknow. (Awards- 
a) Best Film.
b) Best Actress.
c) Best Director.)

4) California Film Awards, Jan 2016, USA. 
(Awards- Gold Award-Foreign Film Competition)

5) Kalyan Intrnational Film Festival Maharashtra, February 2016 .
( Award - Best Story ) 

6) Best Film ( Women Section ) in DFW Dallas South Asian Film Festival , Dallas February 2016.

7) Best Lead Actor nominations ( Mr. Chetan Sharma ) in Kalyan Intrnational Film Festival, Maharashtra, February 2016.


8) Cape Town & Wieland International Film Fest- Sep.15, Cape town, SA.

9) Ireland Indian film festival- Sep2015, Dublin.(in best production and performance).

10) Dehradun international film festival- Sep 2015, Dehradun. 

11) Los Angeles Cine Fest, Sep 2015, online.

12) Toronto international indian film festival, oct 2015, Canada.

13) Milan international film festival, November 2015, Italy.
nominations in
a) Best costume , b) Best Screenplay , c) Best Editing.

14) Indie Film Festival, October 2015, Online.

15) London show International Film festival, October 2015, online.

16) Kolkata International Film festival, November 2015, Kolkata.

17) Alexandria Film festival, November 2015, USA.

18) Phoenix international film Festival, November 2015, Phoenix USA.

19) Delhi International Film Festival, Dec 2015, Delhi.

20) Friendship film festival, Dec. 2015, Delhi, Russian Embassy. 

21) Broken Knuckle Film Festival, Dec 2015.

22) Jaipur International film festival, Jan 2016, Jaipur.

23) Nasik International film festival , March 2016

Tanima and Chetan Sharma (below). Their mutual respect and understanding is what made Saankal beautiful.

INTERVIEW WITH CHETAN SHARMA, MALE LEAD, SAANKAL  

Chetan Sharma as Kesar in Saankal (top) and the young man in real life (right) 

Sonal Kulshrestha: Hi Chetan, Tanima forwarded me your contact. I met her in Dallas during the film festival here . Got to say I was very impressed with your talent in Saankal. 

Chetan Sharma: Hi. I am sorry I have been so late in responding to you. Thank you so much for appreciating my work. I will be glad to share my experiences with you. 


Question 1. How did you end up in Kesar's role in Saankal? 

Chetan: I did get a chance to work with Mr. Dedipya in perhaps 2007. Since then my Dad maintained connection with Dedipya ji. In 2013, when me and my Dad shifted to Mumbai Dedipya ji's office was amongst the very first places he took me to. Till then Dedipya ji had seen a film Ankhon Dekhi where he recognized and appreciated my talent and skills. I was too glad to meet him because I found him a really nice person and a few months later a great human. I think I was at right place at right time. Dedipya ji had faith in my acting skills and I was fit in the bill for a role where a teenager grows with grief and dark secrets around him which are discovered when he reaches adolescence. Also I was ready to grow and cut hair for that role to bring a stark difference in look.


Question 2: You perfectly portrayed a young boy's conflict- in dealing with his monstrous father and yet being a husband too- especially in four scenes- when he returns with gifts, two times when you catch him betraying you and when he confesses to you. Your expressions and body language were unbelievable . How did you get it so right? Did you need to observe the father- son interaction in remote areas where so little is said in words?

Chetan Sharma: Thank you so much for scrutinizing those moments and performances therein. Actually whatever we portrayed, though was a reality at some point of time but witnessing the same characters in same situation for references to portray the same onscreen is never possible and we have to resort to our personal creativity. At first when I read about Kesar I was so much moved that I couldn't resist pondering over his tragedy. Yet bringing that in one's blood and flesh is entirely different thing. There my theatrical experience came to my rescue. I tried to pick his simplicity in rawness, innocence and ferocity, agony and grief. So when I had creativity, facial and physical muscles obeying my orders and a gang of amazing actors like Tanima Bhattacharya, Harish Hariauddh, Jagat Singh, Samarth Shandilya, I think it was not that difficult to get completely involved in my role. Also my understanding with Tanima and her support in critical scenes ( like the romantic ones ) was an irreplaceable value addition to my less confident scenes.


Question 3. How deeply did the movie affect you?

Chetan Sharma: If you are asking about it's emotional effect on me then I would say it was moving. At first you think how dark have been there past and you feel so helpless because you can't do anything about it. We were awfully shocked when we actually went to those communities and realized that it had been real some 2 decades ago and still in remote places. Then we solicit ourselves that we are going to be a part of a film which will rationalize what is wrong.

Apart from that in my personal life Saankal shall have a never fading impact as it has the credit of my first film as lead. Also, it has brought me some really very amazing friends like Dedipya ji, Tanima, Harish ji, our Director of Photography Jaywant Raut, Sanjeev Boharpi ji and others who are quite fine at the tasks they take in hand. This film has really made me understand the importance of an actor and his relation with his acting. I learnt to handle big challenges and deal with second thoughts which come in mind where realism is needed. It was a great experience and lesson which will stay with me forever :)


WE SAY ..

Oh wow! Very enlightening and touching responses! This 21-year old surely has debuted his acting talent in a lead role in a wonderful intense movie that helps educate the audience on social malpractices. At this young age, Chetan has his skills and heart at the right place!


(I sent him the picture of me with Tanima so he could make the connection and his polite response was- 

Chetan Sharma: Oh nice picture :) You look great. 

What a perfect gentleman!

I asked him for his pics for desideewar. When I saw the pics, I told him, "You're a handsome young man". His response-"Hehe...thank you:)".  

By Sonal Kulshrestha

(Sonal is a computer programmer by profession and a writer by passion. She is an avid movie goer. She lives in Texas, USA) 

desifilmey- home recommendations

Right- The author, Sonal Kulshrestha, with Tanima Bhattacharya as she was about to leave for airport to head back to India from DFWSAFF.


(With compliments from Radio Hot Pepper of DFW, media partners of desideewar) 

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