Actor Jitin Gulati got Sisak by sheer luck. Its director Faraz Arif Ansari met Jitin when he was reciting a poem on Section 377 at a gathering. The two ended up discussing three scripts, and one of them was Sisak. “He had cast others from the movie industry, but they had backed out for some reason. That’s when I came on board. I wanted to do it because of its basic idea. For me doing a silent film in a public space like trains is very romantic,” Jitin said during an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com.
Sisak is touted as India’s first silent LGBTQ film. It is the story about two men in a Mumbai local train who come across each other daily, but are unable to express their feelings. The film explores their silent connect as the two, played by Jitin and his co-actor Dhruv Singhal, try hard, yet fail to confess their emotions for each other due to the social stigma attached around same sex love.
So wasn’t it difficult for Jitin to crack a chemistry with Dhruv onscreen? “Its about love and I have been in love. I have personally experienced unrequited love. So I know that aspect pretty well. It is an LGBT story about two men, but for me it’s just another love story,” the actor said.
Sisak had a guerrilla shoot where the crew hopped on to the Mumbai locals without any official police permissions and pretended to make a student film! They had so much time crunch that they made sure their first shot was the best. The 20-minute short film is now reaping the fruits. It has already won accolades at international film festivals at New York, Brazil and Mexico, apart from Wicked Queer in Boston and Kashish LGBTQ Mumbai Film Festival 2017. It won the Best Overall Best Film at the FilmOut San Diego Film Festival and has been nominated for the Satyajit Ray Award. So how does Jitin see Sisak spreading awareness about Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code?
“Prejudice is around the world. In India there is a lot of prejudices with religion and sexuality. We are still not aware of Section 377. People don’t even get what LGBT community is, the difference between a transgender and gay, or what they are fighting for. Sisak is making them think. The personal impact Sisak had on people is more valuable to me,” he said.
Delhi boy Jitin left his banking job of eight years to pursue acting. He came down to Mumbai and began modelling and eventually bagged roles in films like MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, Warning and Amen. He has also appeared in TV show 24, apart from various TVCs. So which medium he finds most comfortable working in? “For me medium doesn’t matter. What matters is people. The director has to be somebody I am on the same page with, whom I respect, and the whole project should excite me,” Jitin said.
“After Sisak I expect people take me seriously as an actor. I come from a modelling background. People think since I am a model, I might not have depth. There is a prejudice which I understand. It is not completely wrong as models are always aligned to be perfect whereas in films you look at imperfections. There is a barrier which I hope Sisak is able to break for me,” Jitin added.
The actor also revealed how he has been getting hit on by guys of late. “Yes (laughs) I have been getting a lot of friends requests lately with messages saying that you are hot. Just yesterday at a screening, a guy came up to me and said you are too hot, it’s a shame you are straight!” he quipped.
Jitin’s next is a TV show, apart from Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani’s web series Inside Edge. “Working on Inside Edge was actually a no brainer for me. I was getting to work on something which had ‘quality’ written all over it. I am very excited about the way it has turned out,” he said.
And how is it hopping between films and TV and web and TVC’s? “Every project is chaos. It’s all crisis management,” Jitin said.