Over an hour-long documentary about love in sickness, by filmmakers Ann S Kim and Priya Giri Desai, opened to a warm reception at the 20th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival With Star on Monday evening.
Aptly titled Lovesick, it follows the journey of late Doctor Suniti Solomon, who was not only the pioneer in AIDS research in India but also a matchmaker for many HIV positive singles in the country.
The film, shot in Chennai and Delhi, takes the audience through the heart-melting love story of two such people- Karthik and Manu, who were almost present at the film’s screening.
“I read an article about Dr Suniti and I turned around to Ann and said, ‘Don’t you think it’ll make a great movie?’ She had spent time in India studying and travelling and I’m an Indian-American, who grew up in California and spent all my summers in Bangalore,” Priya told the audience.
“We both had an understanding of this place. We thought, ‘Let’s go to India and connect with the doctor.’ The worst thing that can happen is we will get a fun trip out of it, the best thing is we can find a great story,” she said after the premiere.
It was a 10-year-long process to get the film to the screens. The duo began filming in 2008 and finished the film in 2013, post which it took them nearly four years to edit almost 250 hours of footage.
The film has been shot in real-time, so, the directors didn’t know how Karthik and Manu’s love story would shape up. The film and the couple’s relationship blossomed simultaneously.
The original cut of the film had many couples but it was in the edit meet when they concluded Lovesick was essentially about the couple, whose road to love had obstacles of stigma and secrecy.
“We travelled to all over India to find such couples. We went to Gujurat, rural parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. We talked to a dozen of HIV+ people and we found some stories which were part of the earlier cut.”
“But in our edit when we took advice from people we realised the story was about Dr Suniti, Karthik and Manu. But we spent a lot of time traveling and trying to find these stories,” Ann said.
Lovesick features in MAMI’s discovering India section. The film had its world premiere at DOC NYC.