April 13, 2021 7:00:06 pm
IN the world of storytelling, stories often change their shape and switch mediums to create remarkable experiences. The story of My Mother’s Girlfriend — a short film written and directed by Arun Fulara that explores a day in the life of two mature women in love — was initially written as a backstory of a feature film script about a mother-son relationship.
“The backstory had to be taken out for some reason, but it stayed with me. Last year, my debut short film, Sunday (2020), was selected at Inside Out Toronto, one of the major LGBTQ+ film festivals in the world, and they had a pitching session for short film scripts. I couldn’t get this story and the characters out of my head, so I wrote My Mother’s Girlfriend,” recalls Fulara.
Fulara wrote the script, which tells the story of two working-class women — Renuka (Sushma Deshpande) and Sadiya (Anju Alva Naik) — who are in love with each other, during the lockdown in April 2020. After enjoying a day out on Renuka’s birthday, they plan to spend the night together. They head to Renuka’s home unaware that her son is around.
“Since I had the characters of mother and son as well as their relationship already etched out in mind, the writing process was smooth. The first draft was done in a couple of days. That’s usually the toughest part. Frankly, there was nothing else to do during the lockdown and I had a deadline — the Pitch Please! deadline at Inside Out Toronto — to motivate me,” Fulara says. By the time My Mother’s Girlfriend was shot, nearly six months later, the script had undergone quite a few changes. He has wrapped up the film’s shoot and is currently trying to raise money for its post-production through a crowdfunding campaign.
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At the time of its scripting itself, Fulara had taken a major casting decision — to have Deshpande, one of the most prominent personalities of Marathi theatre, as one of the protagonists. “We’d worked together on Devashish Makhija’s Ajji (2017) and I knew what an amazing performer she is. I was quietly confident that given a good script, she would agree to do the film. Frankly, I had no backup plans, I don’t know any other actor in that age bracket who would be willing to kiss on camera. Luckily for us, Sushma agreed without batting an eyelid,” says Fulara, who assisted Makhija for Ajji.
Deshpande plays the titular protagonist in Ajji, who plots revenge against a powerful man for sexually assaulting her granddaughter. Fulara approached Bangalore-based Naik following recommendations made by a couple of friends. She recently featured in Kannada thriller titled Arishadvarga, directed by Arvind Kamath.
“Anju is a wonderful actor, very subtle and camera-friendly. She also had a slightly shy awkwardness about her that I thought worked really well for the character of Sadiya,” says Fulara. Both Sunday, which was released on MovieSaintas.com recently, and My Mother’s Girlfriend talk about desire and everyday people.
The 10-minute short, Sunday, revolves around a middle-aged Maharashtrian man, whose Sunday visits to the neighbourhood salon are tender ploys to spend some time furtively looking at his crush, the young barber, and to be touched by him. “Sunday was very personal, it stemmed out of my loneliness in the city and this lack of intimacy and touch. My Mother’s Girlfriend is more a celebration of love between two characters, who are also lonely. This desire to be with someone you love or are attracted to is probably the most universal of all human or even animal desires,” says Fulara.
Fulara wants to share stories about people, who otherwise are rarely seen on screen. “There’s so much discrimination around us, in the name of caste, class, religion, gender, sexuality, age and so on. I find it more meaningful to focus on the threads that bind us together, the feelings and emotions we can all relate to and empathise with,” says the writer-director, whose upcoming projects include a feature film titled My Home is in the Hills.
The script of My Home is in the Hills, which Fulara plans to direct soon, was selected for the Co-Production Market of NFDC’s Film Bazaar this year.
My Mother’s Girlfriend is expected to be ready by mid-May. The edit is locked and as of now, the team is working on its sound. “The money raised from the crowdfunding will be used to pay for the post-production which includes the editor’s fees, sound production, colour grading, DCP, VFX, and film festival submissions. I am yet to pay my cinematographer, Rangoli Agarwal, who was kind enough to wait for her fee,” says Fulara.
Apart from raising funds, Fulara hopes to reach out to people and connect them with the film through the crowdfunding campaign. “We can hopefully take the film farther and wider,” he adds.
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