Sakhisona, a diploma film by students of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), has been selected to compete at the prestigious International Film Festival in Rotterdam. The film, made by the 2008 batch students and directed by Prantik Basu of 2007 batch, will be competing with 23 other films in the short film category. The festival will take place in Rotterdam, Netherlands, between January 25 and February 5, 2017.
The 26-minute-long Bengali film is an adaptation of a folktale, and was shot in black and white by Mehul Bhanti, with sound design by Ajayan Adat and editing by Agulie Kire. Actors for the movie included Ashwani Sharma, Arunima Shankar, Abhija Sivakala and Manbhum Sramjibi Chhau Dance Group.
The plot takes the viewers to the seventh century where Sakhisona and her lover elope and reach an abandoned village in the woods. The two were living a life of love and solitude in the woods until one day, while on a tour of the jungle, a jealous witch casted her spell on Sakhisona and turned her lover into a goat.
“It’s a great honour for us. Our entire team had worked extremely hard in an adverse environment for this film. It’s also a fitting reply to those who raised misplaced questions about the abilities and the quality of FTII students,” said Adat who is currently working on a Malayalam film in Kerala.
Basu, the director, said that it was a matter of containment for the team as Sakhisona was the only Indian entry at the prestigious festival. The film, he said, is inspired by the rendition of Saokhisona’s folklore by Faqir Raam and Muhammad Qurban Ali.
“To compete in such a festival is a matter of pride. However, all said and done, the best prize for all of us would remain the pleasure and fun we had during the shooting of this film. All of us are now working at different places, away from each other. Such a news has come as a pleasant surprise and has inspired us for future projects,”said Basu.
Basu came across the folklore while he was shooting a documentary at Moghulmari village in the West Midnapore District on Odisha-Bengal border. In 2004, a team of researches from Calcutta University stumbled upon a mound, which upon excavation came across as a treasure house of medieval and prehistoric period.
“I was shooting near the excavation site when the locals narrated the tale of Sokhisona. The mound where the excavation was on is called mound of Sashisena or Sokhisona. They told me the poignant tale of the love affair and its tragic end. I decided to make it into a film as though the story belongs to the seventh century, it is still relevant being a love story — in fact a love triangle. It also has elements of magic realism — a genre that interests me,” said Basu.
Three winners will be selected by a jury of three comprising Finnish artist Salla Tykkä, Dutch professor Patricia Pisters and Andrea Lissoni, Senior Curator of International Art (Film) at Tate.