There is something about the two elderly men whose zest for life has not waned with the wrinkles on their faces or the grey on their hair. One gets a glimpse of a long, deep friendship as they outdo each other on the chessboard or sing unabashedly on a sprawling verandah with emptied teacups in the background. But, a fleeting moment when one puts his hand on the other shows that there is more to their easy camaraderie. Ishq Ki Ijaazat, a “film poem” by National Award-winning filmmakers Satyanshu and Devanshu Singh, captures many such moments between homosexual lovers in four minutes.
Ishq Ki Ijaazat was released online on June 23 and with it, brothers Satyanshu and Devanshu launched their channel Storytelling Twins under the umbrella of Qyuki, a platform that helps creators build their audience. A film poem is a form that marries poetry with visuals and sounds more spontaneous.
“We wanted the first film poem to touch upon a sensitive subject,” says Satyanshu, who received the Special Jury Award at National Film Awards, with his brother, for their short film Tamaash (2013). For the online channel, he wrote this original poem, whose opening line reads: Do ishq ki ijaazat, ilzaam ab hata do. Hum gair hain nahin, ek baar toh jata do (Let love be my right, no longer a crime. Accept us as your own). The brothers have had their poems featured in Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan (2010).
The video, shot in Delhi over four days, has characters engaged in mundane activities — women reading to each other, boys playing video games, girls wearing make-up and men taking selfies. Yet, very subtly they manage to express their intimacy and give the film a warm tone.
“Once the edit was ready, we knew the voice reciting the poem has to be cold and assertive. It won’t be a pleading voice but we wanted to add a tenderness to it,” says Satyanshu. That’s when Devanshu roped in actor Huma Qureshi. “Her diction and pronunciation are almost flawless. Her voice too suited the film very well,” he says.
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According to Satyanshu, short films consume a lot of energy and it’s a challenge if the budget is limited. Two more films are ready in the film poem web-series. They plan to release one every month. “Not all the films are going to have a social message like this one. However, each one of them is beautifully executed,” says Samir Bangara, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Qyuki.