By Nita Deshmukh. Posted on October 31, 2015
From an early age Rahul Dahiya got a sense of the difference between rural and urban worlds. And as time went by, he wanted to capture it with his camera, and tell the story of villages that he'd seen at close quarters. He studied at a film institute briefly before dropping out to pursue work with a television production house. He assisted Sudhir Mishra on his film Khoya Khoya Chand. G-A Wanton Heart is his debut feature. The film is scheduled to be screened at the 17th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival this year.
We spoke with Rahul on his film and his journey thus far. What follows are excerpts from that discussion.
Most of my holidays in childhood were spent in either my mother’s or father’s village in very close proximity with nature. Leaving early morning to the fields on the bullock carts running at top speed as my cousins used to race each other while we used to stand on the cart trying to balance, with the hazy red shade of rising sun, sometimes spending whole day on a huge mango tree which we had in our fields, jumping in the river to catch fallen berries and running away to save ourselves from bees flying around as one of our cousins somehow always managed to shake the branch which had the beehive to get the honey out.
Those memories stayed with me through out. When I joined a boarding school in 4th standard, my next 7-8 years were full of exploring and connecting with lots of characters from diverse backgrounds. That was a period of vast & in-depth study of characters, before I joined St. Stephens College Delhi and realized what it is that I want to do in life.
It was in college while studying science that I realized that it is much easier to make films! No, i am joking, but it is true that it all started with the butterflies in my stomach due to approaching exams during my graduation first year from St.Stephen College Delhi, while more and more people were awake at night, at tea stalls and parathawala’s around college.
Though I was supposed to be up studying and the pressure of approaching exams used to be there but there was an sense of pleasure in watching different foggy shades of winters, experiencing fear, blooming love between couples in the corridors of college or silent expressions of love birds in library, or an ant trying to drag food larger then itself. It was the pressure of exams building upon you on the one hand while simultaneously you were being made more aware of each and every moment and that's when i had the the urge to capture moments before they turn into memory.
Finally when I got my first camera, it was as if one had got a huge lens and you happen to see all things and all moments in time, magnified. It all started with capturing a single form through my still camera and how a moment tells a story and it was then that the possibility of collecting many such moments with multiple frames to create a whole film occurred to me.
My college life and the life back home in Haryana were a complete contrast. Many times I heard the stories of daughter been killed or a boy found hanging on the tree for falling in love! I was shuffling between these two different realities and the contrast made both the worlds' more real, more vivid. So I was just recording moments without ever trying to edit them mostly due to lack of facilities . But I used to watch them on the small screen of the camera and it felt like 70mm then.
My inspiration is life itself; every moment, if we witness it, is magical. When I say every moment, I truly mean every single moment, you just truly have to be here in this moment and one is inspired and blown by the magnificence of it all. My mothers life inspires me a lot, it’s a long story, so I wouldn’t go in the detail of that but I think the kind of compassion we need in the world for it to be a better place, mothers have it. It's mind blowing how they have the strength and courage to think about others, no matter what state they are in.
One of my favorite directors is Federico Fellini and his films like La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2 , La Strada are my favorites.
Actually there are lots of films and filmmakers, whose work I've enjoyed.
I enjoy films from all genres as long as it’s a gripping, moving and interestingly told story. Same goes for the kind of cinema I want to create, I have never found myself restricted to wanting to work in any one genre.
From the beginning itself when I first thought of making films, I had always felt that I could make films right away without ever having to go through any formal training from any film school. The only thing that I felt I needed to know or learn was about how much of what one imagine can actually be brought on the screen and how much gets lost in the execution. So while working with Sudhir Mishra on Khoya Khoya Chand, I learnt immensely, as I got to work on almost all aspects of film making, from ideation to post production. Khoya Khoya Chand was a period film, so we had to work in detail on every aspect of filmmaking, hand-picking props, period set design, costume design, hair, make up, everything had to be right. This one film was worth the experience of multiple films.
Experience of working with an intelligent and experienced filmmaker like Sudhir Mishra was immensely gratifying as I shared a close relationship with him and watched a lot of world cinema on his home projector. I am thankful to him for relying on me and handing over various responsibilities which helped me execute and achieve what we imagined.
It was not working as an assistant director which was difficult. What was difficult was to curb the urge to fly solo, write and make your own film. What was difficult was to work on substandard commercial projects where I continuously felt that I can direct it better than the person directing it. What was difficult was to continuously keep your rawness and creative honesty intact, because one has to survive and sometimes financial needs can deviate the mind and you are at risk of loosing your originality. Your mind starts thinking about coming up with what can work.
But thanks to the meditative process of writing which keeps you in touch with your inner-most self from where the urge of wanting to make film comes. You realize that the very reason why you are here is because you love the medium, and there's nothing more important than being fiercely independent and original. So instead of doing work I did not enjoy, I wrote and finally thanks to my producer Mr. Vinod Sharma, who has never produced any film, we made the film.
I’ve been dying to make films, so taking a plunge was never a question; the question was how and where. Thanks to the great effort put in by Surabhi Sharma, our executive producer, who was previously part of Prakash Jha’s production team. It was her belief in the project because of which the project saw the light of the day. As we were looking for somebody to produce the film, Mr. Vinod Sharma, Surabhi’s father who has been in love with films, loved the idea and felt it is important to talk about the social issue of ‘honour killings’ through this medium. Once he agreed to produce the film, the long struggle came to an end and another one began. Of making the film.
I was aware of incidents of ‘Honour Killings’ and Khap Panchayats and had heard many incidents shared with me by various people whenever I traveled to my mothers', fathers' or friends' villages. On one of such trips to my mothers village, a relative of mine told me that a girl whom I’ve met in my childhood couple of times is no more and told me of how she fell in love with a guy and had to run away from home. The end result was horrific, which I wouldn’t want to share right now. It was this incident, which actually moved me and compelled me to make this film.
‘G’ (‘G’ or ‘jee’ originates from the Sanskrit word ‘jiv’- ‘to breathe’ and ‘jiva’ denoting 'a living being', or 'the immortal essence' or ‘soul’ of a living organism'. The word has Indo-European roots in the Latin word ‘Vivus: alive'). What makes us Human? Be it a small child in a refugee camp, or the CEO of an international conglomerate, a woman or a man, old or young. Each one of us possess a ‘G’ – a mind – a smorgasbord of our ego, our intellect, our experience, our environment – which influences our dreams and our desires.
Consequently our life is but a series of actions and reactions to this natural desire of ours. This is what the core of ‘G’ is. The freedom to be oneself, the freedom to follow ones desire, the freedom to simply be. Is it a freedom or is it a basic right? What is wrong and what is right. And who is to judge what is. The film touches upon this basic question using a village in Haryana as its backdrop. Honour, society, honour killings, desire, the crushing of desire, interplay of ones desire with that of the others.
‘G’ explores the deeper layers of social sexual psyche. This natural sexual tension is constantly present and deeply rooted in our beings but becomes distorted and brutal when ‘sex’ is made a taboo by societal pressure, making the victims more vulnerable to perpetrators who use this as an excuse to satisfy their own jealousy and hatred when they can’t have what they desire.
‘A Wanton Heart’, is the extension of the same thought. It's a protest, as a line in the film goes, when a character says, ‘jisko G karega usko doongi’ or ‘I will give to who ever I like’ o ‘I will fuck who ever I like’. If I am being too dumb, too naïve or even getting exploited, you don’t be my judge as long as my lecherous, immoral, rebellious, my wanton heart… my ‘G’ wants to be exploited. Simply let me be, and let my heart learn and decide for my self what my morality should be. That is the essence of my movie.
The writing process for any film is always fabulous and meditative because sitting in your a chair your mind gets to wander unencumbered to all places and spaces, it is a trance like state. While I was writing this, I did a clichéd thing and went to Mashobra in Himachal to my friends farm where I stayed for a month and finished writing G – A Wanton Heart. The weather, valleys and mountains all added to ‘G’. Writing ‘G’ was sometimes intense but I enjoyed those moments as well. If one persists he can do anything!
The process is on, very soon we’ll be able give the exact date of release of the film.
I have couple of projects ready. There is an idea, which has been exciting me for some time now. I’ve been in th process of exploring it for a while; my script will finish soon. We will share with everyone the moment we have any substantial news about the project.