By Radhika Bhirani
New Delhi, Dec 10 (IANS) Rajinikanth-starrer “Kaala” had a socio-political message on the plight of Dalits, but here’s another “Kaala” — a short film by Tarun Jain — which aims to highlight the issue of racism in India, especially against Africans.
“My film ‘Kaala’ is my response to the troubled nights and anger which pushed me every day to tell this story. It is a socio-political film about the uncompromising issue of racism in India. Between 2016 and 2017, reports on brutal assaults on the Africans in parts of Delhi and its close by areas was covered by almost all media houses. The incidents shook me to the core,” Jain told IANS of the reason he chose the subject for a film.
“Delhi is my home and I have fond memories attached to it, but this city failed to offer equivalent memories to people from other inhabitants. It became a city filled with gory reminders of murders, deaths, brutal attacks, abuses and so on. With over a decade of experience in filmmaking, I decided to use my ability and not remain a silent watcher. Racism is enormously rooted in our society and ignorance will not take us further, but it will stop us from advancing,” he added in an email interview.
Why title it “Kaala”?
“Kaala is a derogatory statement which we attempt to change. It’s more of a word which is used to define someone in disparaging terms. In our film, there is a dialogue, ‘Oye Kaluwe, kaha jaa raha hai?’. Kaala is not just restricted to skin colour, but it also reminds you that you that you are inferior. Rajinikanth’s ‘Kaala’ is also a socio-political film with a strong message.
“We too hope that our short film brings about an urgent change, more so now than ever before,” added Jain, who is rasing Rs 500,000 for the film’s post-production, via crowdfunding platform Wishberry.
India, the 33-year-old filmmaker said, has failed to consider racism a pressing issue.
“As a society, we failed miserably at accommodating a safe and respectful place for people of other communities, despite Indians facing invasive situations in other parts of the world. Our film questions ‘why we are doing the same things for which we have been battling the western world for generations?’
“How is skin colour enough to judge a person? How our opinion changes when we see a black as compared to a white? Why can’t we treat a human as human? Man as a man and a woman as a woman? My ‘Kaala’ is about the disturbing elements of how a society can abandon you for something as trivial as the colour of your skin. It takes you to an uncomfortable yet compelling space which makes you contemplate on your choices in life.”
The larger message, he said, is to help people reconnect to the most powerful human emotion, love.
“Kaala” features a non-actor of African descent as its main character.
Jain said their research for the movie mainly included meetings and interactions with people from the African community.
“During eight months of research, we met people from the embassies, students from different schools, universities, professionals and mainly indulged in conversations after conversations. Sometimes, it also led to heated arguments and ended up in a few fights as well. During those meetings, our intention was to meet African residents and know their experiences and their expectations.
“We also met a few victims and families of those who lost their lives. Our research also comprised reading a lot on incidents between 2016 and 2017, interacting with journalists who covered the attacks in the past, Indian government’s reactions and implementations after the attacks, and their outcomes,” said the Delhi-based filmmaker.
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at [email protected])