By Kanika Rajani
After picking up issues like gay relationships for his films, director Onir chose the subject of caste-opression to turn a producer. Chauranga, directed by Bikas Mishra, is Onir’s first production venture along with film-maker Sujoy Ghosh. The film premiered at the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) recently and is set to go to the Göteborg International Film Festival in January. Interestingly, the script of the film was already awarded at the festival in 2011.
“We have submitted the film to other key international film festivals and we are waiting for it to be short-listed,” says the film-maker.
When asked about why he chose to produce Chauranga rather than direct it, Onir said, “I have worked as an independent film-maker and I want to help other first-time directors.”
Talking about partnering with Ghosh, he says, “I have known Sujoy since 2003 when he directed Jhankaar Beats and had acted in my first film, My Brother…Nikhil. When Chauranga was being crowd-funded, I was shooting at Shantiniketan in West Bengal. I had come to Kolkata for the weekend and Sujoy happened to be there. We spoke about the film and he offered to join in as a producer as he had heard about it and liked the subject.”
Chauranga explores the love story between a 14-year old Dalit boy and a 16-year old upper caste girl. “The film has been set against the backdrop of caste politics and is based on a real life incident in 2008, where a Dalit boy was even thrown from the train by the girl’s parents,” stated Onir.
Soham Mitra and Ena Shah are the film’s protagonists, while Tanishtha Chatterjee, Sanjay Suri and Dhriman Chatterjee form the film’s ensemble cast.