Honor killing has been prevalent in our society for generations and it is time that we addressed the matter. With this thought in mind, filmmaker Rahul Dahiya aims to go beyond conventions and explore the aspects of honor killing in his film G – A Wanton Heart. The film that was part of Film Bazaar 2015 is recommended by NFDC and was also part of MAMI and has received some rave reviews. Rahul talks to us about the making of the film, his take on Film Bazaar and why he chose to address this issue in his directional venture.

Rahul Dahiya

Rahul Dahiya

What is your film G – A Wanton Heart all about?

The subject of the film is based on honor killings; when families want to kill their own children for having the natural desire of love towards the opposite sex. It is hypocrisy because the parents themselves would have the same desire. These feelings are natural and it is not possible to not have them. Moreover, I am from that area and have been hearing about honor killings since my childhood. So now, when I am well equipped with the art of filmmaking and writing, I made a film on it.

The film is not about the Khap panchayat or the news that we see. It deals with the thought of what goes on in the mind of the child, when parents who are supposed to be the protector want to kill their own children for feeling something that is beyond their control.

While dealing with such a sensitive and important issue, what was your treatment towards the film like?

I have kept a very objective perspective by keeping my point of view away from the film. I researched honor killing to understand the issue. While doing research, we first needed to understand what honor basically is because without that we wouldn’t know whose honor is getting hurt by somebody else’s physical action. When you look deep into the subject you realize it is actually ego; calling it honor is just a cover up. The story is only set up in Haryana but this happens everywhere because it is related to ego, jealousy, and hatred towards somebody else getting something they themselves couldn’t. If one of those people who object these things is themselves loved by somebody, would they mind it? Who wouldn’t like somebody loving them or feeling affectionate towards them? So somebody else is getting what they are not and hence they come into the crowd and call it honor and end up killing. This is what the film basically deals with.

The central thread of the film also deals with the sexual psyche of the society and that continuous tension that women feel everywhere be it metropolitans or villages. They always feel bound by something and don’t feel free. We are not just giving an overview of the subject; it is a very interpersonal story about the family and what goes on there.

Still from G - A Wanton Heart

Still from G – A Wanton Heart

Was there a personal experience that led you to making this film or did you see it happen?

I wouldn’t say that I actually saw somebody getting killed, but I have experienced it many times because I come from that area and keep traveling to my village. A lot of people who are close to me also share stories. But recently there was an incident about a girl whom I knew from my childhood. When you are kids, there are no gender boundaries, hence, all of us would play together. Generally, as a kid you tend to like one particular person and for me it was that girl. But later, I joined Delhi University and eventually got busy with life. In cities, there are lots of platforms to interact with the opposite sex, but within villages there are none. The reaction – the way you talk, the way you behave etc. – towards these things in cities is also very different from that in villages, which the film also deals with.

So a while ago I visited my mother’s village and she told me that the girl I used to play with ran away with a guy and both of them were killed. That is when I finally thought that we need to express this issue and talk about it.

What brief did you give your various HODs (Head of Departments)?

The whole film was shot in Haryana on actual locations in villages. It would have been impossible for anybody to go there and shoot, but I had a lot of support from that area and lots of friends at all times while shooting. The place is very crowded and quite notorious at times.

I had a very close relationship with the DOP Sachin Kabir. He was a big support and since he has done several films and is very quick on his feet, he understands all the aspects of shooting on live locations. In such location you can barely take one or two shots and suddenly it gets very crowded. Sometimes the actors get uncomfortable, especially the female actors. There have been times when we were shooting at night and people have come with their hookahs to watch and stay all night. We later devised a way in which we decided to move very quickly after the shot. But that too was a limitation. So, I guess, the brief was to shoot quickly.

After every shoot, we would also have a meeting at our hotel. The main reason for the meeting was to have everything clear in our minds – how to strategize, decide who is going to go where and so on. Many a times we would set up three different fake shooting units. We would have our actual shooting going on in one place and have a fake shooting unit on one edge of the street to keep the crowd separate. So such things happened and we had to be very quick and organized.

Which camera did you’ll shoot the film on?

We started with Red and shot around 40% of the film on it. But once we entered the village we chose to shoot on a Canon 5D Mark III because it would have been impossible to shoot on Red since it takes very long to set up the next shot and we did not have that time. Once you watch the film you will realize the kind of shots we have taken and the kind of spaces we were in. It would have been impossible to take a bigger camera because it would have attracted more people, which I think would have compromised the shot taking.

Still from G - A Wanton Heart

Still from G – A Wanton Heart

What are the things that attracted you towards Film Bazaar?

Deepti D’Cunha had recommend our film here. We also want to release our film and lots of people from various film festivals come here along with several international sales agents and distributors. We were hoping that we might find somebody who can help us release the film and get it noticed among people.

How has your experience been so far?

Very good. I think every day you learn quite a lot and every situation helps your film even if you have not sold it on the first day, or the second or the next. After coming to the festival, I have decided that I am going to come here every year. You get access to many good sessions here, which help new filmmakers and I have been attending them. Even if nothing happens in terms of the release or in terms of distribution, we are  prepared to devise a new strategy to release the film with confidence.

We have received a great response from the audience. The whole film will keep you gripped till the end. We did a couple of experiments to see how people would react to it and therefore we are confident.

-Transcribed by Aarti Sukhija