White is Aneek Chaudhuri’s latest silent feature film that tells the story of three women surviving rape and fighting it back to lead a stronger life.
The film White is produced by La Artiste Productions and is all geared for an international festival release. The film has been shot entirely in West Bengal.
White conjoins three tales based on a similar theme. However, each woman has her own life and a way of leading it. The first tale is of a factory girl getting raped inside the work premises and her story of survival. Following it is the second tale of a single mother and her inability to face her own child after the heinous crime on the lady. This is a story of the child’s upbringing in an orphanage and her return to her childhood home after two decades. The third and the last tale is of a raped married woman (in a village) and how her husband reacts to it (positively though) and attests his name on the victim child.
Aneek speaks about his film and gives us an insight behind his intention of making a silent film.
Q. What is WHITE all about? And why did you opt for the silence format?
A. White is all about the moment when we go out of words, and need to introspect situations deeply. It is not about a crime, it is more about how we come out of it. White echoes power that is derived out of a struggle.
I opted for the silence format as when am dealing with a topic like Rape, I felt that I need to be more responsible as a filmmaker and reach out to a large spectrum of audience. In that way, my power of creating an agenda with a lens could have been justified. This issue is prevalent in any society, hence a silent medium can eradicate linguistic barriers, and the film becomes a global topic.
Q. What made you make WHITE? Why such a heavy topic?
A. It is always more important in creating something than sitting in front of television sets and having notions to change the world; debates go nowhere if they are not constructively put to use. I thought of making White just the same way people debate over women safety. The difference is I tend to attend practical classes more than theoretical ones. Someone has to choose and combine society, safety, aesthetics and world cinema; I did it, although the cinema that I have been making in past combined the same elements but I did not find them convincing enough to leave an impact globally.
Q. How did the idea come to you? What underlying message is associated
A. I was at Cannes last year and could definitely embrace its culture where World Cinema is respected to its zenith. I had to make something that would justify the concept of World Cinema. Can you imagine a French film being broadcast to a Bengali channel and the target audience comprising of the ones who watch episodic dramas? No! Why? It is due to the language barrier. I want to eradicate the barrier and silent cinema can not only do that but also, showcase social issues that call for justice to a larger audience.
White stands for a ray of hope symbolizing purity and divinity that exists among women even in the darkest situations.
Q. What is your takeaway from the film?
A. I learned a lot about the attributes of women through the actors in the film. The special thing that I came to know was a pregnant woman’s lifestyle and her bonding with the unborn. The beauty of womanhood!
Q. Any major obstacles faced while filming?
A. Obstacles! The filming had to stop until someone like La Artiste Productions came up. I had just started the shoot of White on my own, however, my zeal did not pay off and financial miscalculations were about to hamper the film, just when La Artiste approached me and help me finish the film.
With their expertise in films like I create, I have become a much more polished filmmaker.
Q. About your actors and crew
A. Arjaa Banerjee has been a revelation in the film. She has been brilliant in the third tale. Beside this, Kaushik Roy, Sayantee Chattoraj, Piku, everyone has played their parts extremely well.
Music plays an important role in a silent film and Siddarth Chatterjee has been subtle with his compositions.
Cinematography by Snehasis Mitra and Sourideb Chatterjee adds up to the ambience of the film.
Q. The film is made for which target audience
Q. When and where is it going to be released?
A. We are targeting festivals currently and thereafter looking at a wide release.
Q. Your film is doing the rounds of various film festivals. What kind of reaction have you got from the viewers/critics/jury members?
A. White has got very good responses from critics worldwide. And we are hoping to put each one of them to constructive use. This will encourage us and at the same time help us raise the bar for future projects.
Q. How important are film festivals and these recognitions for an Indie and regional filmmaker?
A. Quite important! Because these are the places where people know what it actually takes to create cinema. These recognitions are now getting quite parallel to mainstream success as well. Films with festival laurels are accepted to be good films and liked by a group of audiences when gone for mainstream release.
Q. Filmmakers today have various other options to put their films like Netflix, Amazon Prime and many other VOD streaming websites. What’s your take on this new gen platform for filmmakers?
A. VODs have become a good way not only to showcase your talent to a whole lot of people but also to earn from them. I have been a good example of this when I made ‘The Wife’s Letter’ (143 minutes abstract drama) I had no intention to earn from it as it quite an egoistic piece; however through Amazon Prime (the UK, USA, Germany and Japan), I have got an online release in around 10 countries.Vods are the new theatres showcasing Indie cinema.
Q. Your take on Indie cinema in India at present?
A. Indie Cinema in India is doing really well except for Bengali cinema. In Bengal, directors still have this misconception that independent Cinema refers to low budget movies that are mostly self-funded. In my opinion, Independent cinema refers to independence from the commercial norms of the industry where the success of a film is not based on box office openings. However, one cannot deny the fact that a festival success can also be commercially successful. This is due to the mindset of the audience which has changed.
Q. Tell us about your previous film that featured in Cannes?
A. The Wife’s letter was featured at Festival de Cannes. That was a film I want to the shelf under my conscience as it would take two more decades for such kind of a film to be accepted in India. That was a mathematical film relating the inability of mathematics to decode emotions. The film is now available on Amazon.
Q. Who are your biggest inspirations?
A. Ritwik Ghatak, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Salvador Dali are my biggest inspirations. They are quite similar, yet different.
Q. Lastly, tell us about your future projects?
A. I am working on a script for a musical drama which is supposedly my next feature-length film. Plus a short is on the corner.