In our constant search for interesting projects and issues, which appeal the best to humanity, we often stumble upon something very honest and creative. Be it a documentary on city changes, an ode to travelling in general compartments, an artist’s life story, a comedian’s stand up project, or a singer’s pathos. We’ve been thrilled by these projects, which always tend to leave a lasting impact on not just us but also the world we live in. In recent times, we came across one such interesting project, Dhuusar. Dhuusar, which was being hosted as a crowdfunding project, impressed us with it’s relatable and engrossing story. A story which spoke about the journey of a juvenile convict, through a span of twenty odd years, seeing the world change before his eyes. Dhuusar, which means Grey, is a perfect combination of whites and blacks of life.
In conversations with Snehashish Mondal, the film’s director, about what makes Dhuusar stand out. The excerpts of it below..
The Definition Of Dhuusar – The Word and The Movie:
Set over a span of a couple of decades in the vast canvas of Kolkata, Dhuusar brings us through four distinct phases of Shiladitya’s life as he finds himself in the whirlwind of unfavourable situations and his obsession to escape from it all. A mother, a jailor, a lover and his relationship with them as he journeys through, to search for the perfect liberation. As the name suggests, the film is about a certain ‘grey’, born out of the black and white, trying to blend into the world of colours. The film is inspired by the real-life story of Sajal Barui of Kolkata, who is a convicted criminal for the murder of his entire family at the age of 16.
The Ideologies driving Dhuusar – The Genre It Caters To:
The main ideology behind Dhuusar is to portray the ‘greyness’ in us, our emotions, life, situations. It doesn’t impose any judgments or evokes sympathy, nor does it justify itself to the norms. It brings you through a journey of an individual and asks you to have your own perception which is then attributed to your own personal journey and experience.
Rather, It is a biographical drama which amalgamates the lives of 2 individuals. It specifically chronicles the life of our writer (Soumi Saha) with an incident from the life of Sajal Barui, relying on the emotional and relational development of the characters and circumstances, to tell an honest story of their honest struggles.
The Story And The Inspirations And The Involvement Of Mr.Vinay Pathak In The Project:
I came across Sajal Barui’s case, a couple of years back while researching for a short film of mine. His crime happened to have stayed with me. My partner and I (both brought up in Singapore and Gujarat respectively), ‘Probaashi Bangali’ as they call us, had begun our research on juvenile killers from all over the world. We spoke to lawyers, jailers and the inmates themselves, trying to understand their psyche, as to what makes them different from most of us. And the best part of the process was to be able to explore the most unexplored parts of Kolkata.
I had first met Mr Vinay Pathak during one of his plays which I was involved in and that’s when I had gotten his contact. I jumped at the opportunity to share the synopsis with him once we were done with the screenplay, after being at it for over a year. He was one of the first few people whom we had shared our material with and his response of “It’s wonderfully disturbing and interestingly tragic. Where do I fit in?” was truly encouraging for us, especially at such an early stage. We discussed his character and the film at length over a few tea sessions and before we knew it, he was on board.
The Character Dynamics Of The Feature And How They Define Dhuusar:
Shiladitya, being the central character of the film brings us through 4 distinct phases of his life and his relationship with Paromita, his mother, Supt. Avinash, a jailor, Purva, his partner and Kaka and a colleague/confidante. Another very important character in the film with whom Shila shares a special bond, over the span of 20 years, is Colours.
Over the research period, as we met and spoke to many different individuals with a distinct mindset and behavioural patterns. During the process, we heard their opinions and their personal take on life. Though we did not necessarily relate to most of them but we could completely comprehend and accept their personalities and mentality and therefore be incorporating it into our own journey, experience and personality to weave the distinct characters of Dhuusar. The above-mentioned being the primary characters of the film are the boughs of Shila’s journey, defining the layers of his greyness with that of their own.
What Does The Feature Define In Terms Of Liberation:
Through Shila’s journey, the film tries to define not just his but our obsession to free ourselves from the narrow confines of fear, doubt, worry and lack. An obsession to live with a conscious awareness of one’s authentic self and one’s true nature of wholeness, to portray a kind of liberation that we all strive for, from the time we come into existence.
Dabbling With A Highly Relevant Topic, Juvenile Conviction And The Research For It:
During our research phase over a little less than a couple of years, we visited several juvenile correctional homes and spoke to the inmates and the wardens. Most of the juvenile criminals that we spoke to are incredibly unique with the kind of things that interest them and mostly have their minds driven towards something which they are very passionate about. Our experience and findings were a little contradictory to the common beliefs because the juvenile criminals are given a good opportunity to nurture their creativity and skills during their term in the homes.
In fact, I remember being pleasantly surprised when I visited the first juvenile home which had walls painted by the inmates. Some had painted the memories of their villages, some, of their favourite cartoon characters and not to forget, their biggest idols, the Khans. Out of all the inmates that I met, I still think of an Assamese kid, who sings, makes perfect bird sounds, vehicle sounds, does cricket commentary, is a pro at beatboxing and knows Mahabharata and Ramayana inside out, reciting a verse or two of Gita, to his fellow inmates every evening. He is 12 years old.
Breaking The Stereotypical Notions Of The Society:
It is also a common notion that violence and aggression at such a young age are attributed to bad parenting and the lack of role models. It’d be wrong to generalise a particular notion because the violence and aggression are attributed to various factors related to parenting, environment and company, exposure to the entertainment medium and digital world, their own personal journey and experience or simply their basic nature conflicting with all of the above. One such interaction which stayed with us was that with one of the inmates whom we had spoken to, who was not allowed to wear his father’s suit which had hurt him immensely causing him to attempt suicide and after failing to gather the courage to do so, he stabbed his father instead.
As the writer tells me, she didn’t really intend to get into the mind of a killer nor did she regard the killers as different entities. Maybe their actions are but not their character traits, likes and dislikes and sentiments. We all have our moments with people and things we’re possessive about. Sometimes we react towards our disappointments through our egoistic behaviour, humiliating and hurting the other person, arguments or simply tears.
Sometimes we escape from the problem, sometimes we face them in our own ways protecting and defending ourselves in the process. We have had our moments with our family members while growing up and we have perhaps reacted like the majority of us do. The writer had written Dhuusar with the idea of herself reacting as one of the minorities instead. With the idea of, what if instead of facing the problem, she had the instinct to diminish the problem?
What Makes Dhuusar Important For Our Times:
I would love to travel with Dhuusar to give the film its fair share of national and international festival run and reach out to as many people as possible. Also, I want to be able to tell people their own stories with the help of characters that are different from them and yet so similar. I want people to relate to a moment or two in the film without the judgments of societal norms. Slabellinging, labeling and fighting for our opinions, especially with the help of social media have only been getting more casual.
But sometimes, wouldn’t it be nice to just take a step back and accept the fact that what may be right for one might be wrong for another? We’ve successfully arranged for the finances for the film and are going to begin work on it soon and hopefully, we’ll be able to bring Dhuusar in front of you at the soonest.
Slabellinging, labelling, and fighting for our opinions, especially with the help of social media have only been getting more casual. But sometimes, wouldn’t it be nice to just take a step back and accept the fact that what may be right for one might be wrong for another? We’ve successfully arranged for the finances for the film and are going to begin work on it soon and hopefully, we’ll be able to bring Dhuusar in front of you at the soonest.
We wish the team behind Dhuusar our best and hope that it comes out to tell a story which is relevant, necessary and societally impacting. Continue knowing more about the project by following this facebook page.