While most of us don’t mind watching movies with the expected and hackneyed combination of song, dance, romance and comedy – blatantly sold as entertainment – we all know how dissatisfied the entire experience ends up being. Interestingly, all those who equate entertainment with enjoyment and education would be excited to watch ‘Chauranga’, a rural film which gives viewers an insight into the evil of the caste system. And while it creates awareness about the judgment system which is completely influenced by the biases based on caste, it also gives an unusual love story. Yes, the film centres around the story of a 14-year-old boy who falls for a 16-year-old from an upper caste, and bears the dire consequences.
“Chauranga is an extremely special film as it shows caste-based discrimination from a child’s perspective. And the experience of understanding its impact through a kid will leave an impact on many. The 14-year-old boy around whom the film revolves has absolutely no idea about the consequences of falling in love with a girl who belongs to an upper caste. It is his innocence that captures the world of love so beautifully,” explains Sanjay Suri.
Sanjay, who plays an upper caste zamindar in the film has co-produced ‘Chauranga’ along with Onir and Mohan Mulani.
But what made Sanjay give his nod to the project? “I was completely convinced with the film’s script – it was strong, engaging, and persuasive. It didn’t need too much of dialogues to explain what was happening in the film and that really mattered. The film’s setting in Jharkhand which certainly adds to the overall impact; it makes ‘Chauranga’ a globally themed film.”
Amid ongoing debate over intolerance, Sanjay tells us the ‘Chauranga’ team never thought of using it to promote the film. “Intolerance in India never crossed our minds even when we started promoting the film. We aren’t using it to sensationalise the film. Ever since the film ‘Achoot KaNya’ released, what has changed? Sadly many unfortunate incidents have happened post the film’s release. And such instances continue to happen.”
Sanjay, who spent his childhood and youth in the troubled Kashmir, calls himself a ‘victim of intolerance’. Having witnessed the trauma of forced migration, Sanjay (a Kashmiri Pandit) is planning to do a project that captures the same experience. “When government gave us the tags of migrants, it reflected their inability to understand what had happened to us. We were displaced, uprooted and given immigrant cards. I have no idea how the government can help us. An entire generation has changed, but nothing has happened. People have died and it has emerged as the most unfortunate incident. We were referred to as refugees in our own country. This is history as young as 25 which is being easily forgotten.”
While his previous film ‘I Am’ did have a story which was about militancy, radicalism and fundamentalism, Sanjay is keen on doing a film which is completely based on the lives of Kashmiri Pandits. “I would love to do a project based on this issue. But I want it to be holistic. I’m working on something similar, but it is too early to talk about it.”