Although Onir’s latest film I AM is yet to release in India, the film has won accolades and praises offshore, with being awarded the 2008-09 Triangle Media Group Honorary Award, Best Film awards at both the London Asian Film Festival and the River to River, Florence Indian Film Festival, amongst a plethora of awards the film’s been conferred with. Onir and Sanjay Suri under their banner, Anticlock Films, have produced their latest, I AM that consists of four short films put together exploring themes such as abuse, discrimination and prejudice. One of the four stories in the film that touches upon the subject of child abuse is Abhimanyu’s tale played by the seasoned actor Sanjay Suri.
Sanjay’s character Abhimanyu, is based on a true story where he enacts a character of a successful documentary director, who is haunted by painful memories of his childhood when he was sexually abused, he deal’s with this murky memories as he struggles with his sexual identity. The story is based upon the experiences of gay rights activists Harish Iyer and fashion designer Ganesh Mallori. Bollywood Hungama meets up with Sanjay Suri to talk about being Abhimanyu, producing the film, and working with a pedigree of people.
“I approached it by putting myself self in someone’s shoes who has had a horrific past, of something like child abuse”
I am Abhimanyu, the part of the story I feature in I AM is based on a true incident. The script was quite well drafted, and the character sketch was made very well in detail. But for me, I approached it by putting myself self in someone’s shoes who has had a horrific past, of something like child abuse… someone who is devastated with the incident, which has changed a person’s life completely, which leaves a deep psychological impact.
“He’s old enough to remember but he’s not old enough to understand what’s happening to him”
For me, I either draw the characteristics from people or as actors we derive it from within. Just to imagine a young child subjected to something like this where, he’s old enough to remember but he’s not old enough to understand what’s happening to him. I think I’ve always been sensitized to such subjects in child abuse, and it was not too difficult for me to really to get into the shoes of this character.
“We’ve got such a pedigree of people everywhere”
This is my fourth film with Onir, first we produced My Brother Nikhil then after that we didBas Ek Pal which was followed by Sorry Bhai! and now I Am. So it’s a great professional relationship. We got a great pedigree of actors everywhere with Nandita Das, Anurag Kashyap, Anurag Basu, Juhi, Purab, Arjun and others, so the whole process of making this film was very enriching.
“It’s always good to go back to Kashmir”
In total we shot for about 23-24 days because we had about three outdoor shooting schedules, one was in Kashmir the others were in Bangalore, Kolkatta and the fourth was in Mumbai. So these four stories are kind of spread across the country, the shoot was about five-six days for each segment of the film. Every story had a different set of actors and some part of the crew was involved as well. Kashmir is my home town where I was born and grew up, so lots of nostalgic memories came back when I went back to shoot… it’s always good to go back to Kashmir. Bangalore was a lovely place to shoot in, the people were supportive and the weather was great. Kolkatta was home to Onir and it has a film fraternity that’s very supportive of such cinema. I think the toughest place to shoot was Mumbai and it’s the most expensive city to shoot in. But overall it was a very rewarding experience.
“It won’t offend anyone; it’s quite an honest film”
I AM is a film that wont offend anyone, it’s quite an honest film. Please do watch I AM because its not only one of the first, but its probably the biggest crowd sourced film and If you like watching good stories I think you should watch I AM.
Credits: Bollywood Hungama