As someone who grew up in Jind district, located in central Haryana, Rahul Dahiya was always aware of honour killings. Yet, caught up with his studies and life, he had not given it much thought, until a visit to his mother’s village, Ikkas, in 2012. This is when he came to know about the killing of a young acquaintance who was electrocuted by her family members in the tubewell room in their fields. What haunted him was the image of her body, propped up on the bullock cart, face covered with a dupatta and being carried back to the village before they cremated her at night. “The dead girl sitting up in a bullock cart, while her family members pretended everything is normal, was disturbing. I wished to be a filmmaker and wondered what can be more important than talking about this,” says Dahiya, who then decided to make a short film based on this incident but the canvas expanded eventually. The result was G Kutta Se, Dahiya’s debut feature that released on June 16.
From the start, Dahiya decided not to overtly talk about “honour killings” or “khap panchayats” in the movie. “My movie is more about parents and other members of a family taking the drastic step of killing a girl for falling in love. It was more important for me to show that there is no button to switch off their attraction towards the opposite sex,” says Dahiya, whose father Atter Singh Dahiya was a Mathematics professor at Government PG College, Jind, for three decades. True to that, the film remains resolute on showing the life and longings of three female characters as well as the powerful players of a patriarchal society who cut their dreams short. “It was a conscious decision not to deviate from the main characters. With deviation comes judgment. That’s something I wanted to avoid,” adds the 36-year-old. Dahiya also avoids showing blood or killing on the screen, though the viewers can feel the impact of violence.
During G Kutta Se’s making, Dahiya tried to be as true to the story and milieu as possible. The film is in Hindi and Haryanvi. After several rounds of extensive auditions in Delhi, Chandigarh and across Haryana, he put together a cast of non-actors and little-known actors. “For more than a month, the cast rehearsed together in Delhi — trying to get the accent and nuances right,” he says. Once the team was ready, they shot the film on location in Haryana and around Delhi in 25 days. “While shooting, we switched to smaller cameras, which were placed as far from the actors as possible. While watching the film, I want the viewers to feel that they are around these characters,” says Dahiya, a computer science graduate from St Stephen’s College, Delhi, who earlier worked on MTV Roadies, and was an assistant on Sudhir Mishra’s Khoya Khoya Chand (2007).
Trouble began when Dahiya decided to release the film. The release was delayed after the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) refused to issue it a certificate. Apart from objecting to certain scenes and language, the CBFC had asked him not to call it “a film inspired by true events”. After the team approached FCAT, the movie released on June 16 with several cuts and an ‘A’ certificate. Dahiya is still perplexed by some of the cuts. One of the scenes snipped by half, as per the CBFC’s wish, showed a group of old villagers watching an MMS featuring a young girl. “What is the Board trying to project here? Does it believe that old men don’t indulge in such activities?” wonders Dahiya, whose film was screened at several festivals, including the New York Indian Film Festival and the Mumbai Film Festival.
In the run-up to G Kutta Se’s release, Dahiya encountered unexpected hostility and threats. After the trailer’s launch, several videos and messages were posted on social media threatening to harm him, his family members as well as the movie’s cast. The team even had to cancel its week-long promotional tour in Haryana. Dahiya also filed a complaint with the Gurgaon police. The film’s distribution remains another cause for concern. Though it has been praised by most critics for the true, albeit bold, portrayal of a misogynistic society, its box-office collection has been affected by the timing of its shows. The film, which had only 40 shows across India, was allotted either morning shows or late night ones. With actor Salman Khan’s Tubelight releasing today, he worried that G Kutta Se would be edged out of theatres soon. “Later, we plan to screen the film for college students. It is necessary that the youths
The film’s distribution remains another cause for concern. Though it has been praised by most critics for the true, albeit bold, portrayal of a misogynistic society, its box-office collection has been affected by the timing of its shows. The film, which had only 40 shows across India, was allotted either morning shows or late night ones. With actor Salman Khan’s Tubelight releasing Friday, he worried that G Kutta Se would be edged out of theatres soon. “Later, we plan to screen the film for college students. It is necessary that the youth watches this film,” says the writer-director.