Updated: December 24, 2014 12:21:35 am
While chronicling a freedom fighter’s struggle to get government recognition, the writer and the director of Gour Hari Dastaan had to punctuate the story with drama, conflict and even pauses
For 32 years, Gour Hari Das, quietly, yet determinedly, kept knocking on various bureaucratic doors to claim what’s rightfully his: to be recognised as a freedom fighter by the government. The story of Das is that of an ordinary man showing extraordinary resilience. He was imprisoned in Odisha’s Balasore jail as a 14-year-old for hoisting the Indian flag in spite of a ban in 1945. In 1976, he applied for the certificate for the recognition which finally he received in 2009. His story has been made into a biopic, Gour Hari Dastaan.
“Most biopics choose famous personalities as their subjects. Our protagonist is an ordinary man whose neighbours didn’t even know him. Being a true Gandhian, he fought silently,” says CP Surendran, the film’s scriptwriter. “Das is a frail person. He looks like he wouldn’t last a single day against the bureaucracy. But he fought for 32 years,” says director Anant Mahadevan.
The film has already been screened at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa, Bangalore International Film Festival and recently at the International Film Festival of Kerala and will see a national release next year.
Mahadevan was very clear from the beginning that he did not want a writer with a film background to write the script. He approached journalist and poet Surendran to give Das’s story a fresh touch, who did by borrowing elements from his own life. He revisited his tumultuous relationship with his father. Taking creative liberties, he has shown Das’s son question the veracity of his claim. With the documents regarding his jail term missing, his pursuit unexpectedly spanned over three decades. Surendran has also introduced the character of a journalist, Rajiv Singhal, who joins forces with the former in his pursuit.
Both Surendran and Mahadevan were on the same page regarding the use of pauses and silences while telling the story. “I wanted the audience to relish the pauses the man had. In real life, we don’t speak hurriedly. Why do that in the movie? I wanted his silence to speak,” says the director, who has received the National Award for Mee Sindhutai apkal (2010). Having a talented cast that included Vinay Pathak, Konkana Sen Sharma, Vikram Gokhle and Rajit Kapoor helped interpret the script. In the scene where Gokhle, as the chief minister, hands over the certificate to Das, played by Pathak, the latter remains almost expressionless. There is a lengthy silence between them that seems to make the CM a tad uncomfortable. “I did not want too many dialogues in the movie. I wanted to make it a very tactile experience,” says Surendran.
This writer-director duo will adapt another real life story on screen, based on ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan, who was implicated for espionage in 1994. They are also working on adapting Satyajit Ray’s short story, Storyteller, on celluloid.
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