G Kutta Se, a Haryanvi film about honour killings had its world premiere at the Chicago South Asian Film Festival. That was in 2015. Now, almost 2 years later, it is finally scheduled for an India release.
Written and directed by Rahul Dahiya, the film is inspired by an incident in which the family of a woman electrocuted her in a tubewell and then placed her corpse on a bullock cart to make it look like she was still alive. This incident was no rare occurrence - just last year, India saw a spike of nearly 800% in honour killings.
In this interview, Dahiya elaborates on where the idea for the film stemmed from, the problems he's had getting a release and the cast and crew receiving death threats from several individuals who have felt the film tarnishes Jats:
ON THE GENESIS OF THE FILM
When this incident happened, it re-instigated something in me. When you're younger, you don't have time to think about these things. And they don't really affect you. While growing up I used to keep hearing these stories. And when you're a filmmaker, you're also very observant. You're very aware. Your surrounding environment really affects you.
I thought about this whole thing they call "honour" and how strange it is. In this country, I know there are a lot of socio-economic problems but this is completely uncalled for. Why do we kill people for having this natural instinct which cannot be switched off? Every person - even the people doing these killings - have the natural instinct to love. It will be there no matter what you do.
WHAT THE FILM IS ABOUT
My film gives no judgement, it doesn't point fingers. It's just the pure truth put in front of you as is. Killing someone who is in your family and who is most close to you, that's something to explore. What is that these people call honour? There's a difference between ego and honour.
It's only your own actions that can dishonour you. And they can dishonour only you, not your family. People confuse honour and ego. The film is not only about honour killings. The sexual psyche is one of the most important things. There are so many things that had to be addressed.
WHY IT TOOK ALMOST 2 YEARS TO GET A RELEASE
There has to be a 'filmmaker's honest helpline'. I've had to repeat everything twice. Whoever gets involved in the film only thinks about how they can get their commission. Also in Bombay, people have developed a perception about good cinema.
I approached a lot of people and it took a very long time to finish things which now seem very simple. But back then, nobody seemed to have any clear answer. It's a small film with unknown people. It looks a certain way because that's how I chose to shoot it. But it's a restriction because it doesn't look glossy.
PROBLEMS HE FACED WITH THE CENSOR BOARD
Censors were the biggest difficulty. They refused to give even an 'A' certificate. I ended up spending 8-9 months just on that. While you're watching the film, there's nothing obscene or gory. But you can feel it. That probably made them uncomfortable.
BACKLASH FROM INDIVIDUALS BACK HOME
It's chaotic. They've been making videos about me, posting stuff on Facebook, YouTube. I even receive calls. I've stopped picking up calls from unknown numbers now. I had to travel to places like Delhi, NCR, Haryana and Chandigarh with my cast and crew to promote the film but we've had to cancel that. Outlook even did a story about it. We sent letters to the PMO, CM and Commissioner but it did not help much.
WHAT HE HOPES TO ACHIEVE THROUGH THE FILM
Even if a film can start a conversation, that's a big deal. Films can begin revolutions but I don't see that happening. There's so much data being fed constantly. You think that going ahead, people are going to be sensitized towards things? They just want to be entertained and drink a Pepsi and eat some popcorn.
There's a lady in Rohtak who has been fighting these cases for 30 years. This is just me using my talents to aid the people that are fighting on-ground. When you get up at the end of the film, you will think about what I'm talking about. There's not even a single shot in the film that is unrealistic.
Watch the trailer here: