Avani Rai’s Raghu Rai: An Unframed Portrait is a film about her father, Raghu Rai, one of India’s most renowned photographers and photojournalists. The film explores the relationship between a father and a daughter and has been produced by Phantom Films. Avani tells us more about it.

Avani Rai

Avani Rai

What is your film about?

My film is about my father. It is about a suddenly put relationship between two camera people – a father and a daughter. The father has been in the country and shot for fifty years covering the most important events of the country like the war, the Prime Ministers of the country, the Bhopal gas tragedy etc. The other bit is where I, the daughter, come in. The film revolves around the personal relationship that we share, it’s subtle but it exists because I have picked something that he practiced and meditated with for fifty years. So, he has his ways and he wants to teach his daughter that. There’s the fact that he knows what he wants from life and I am still figuring it out and playing with my camera. His experience of fifty years is so much compared to my newly found need to make a film. So both the things flow in comparison.

What triggered you to start working on a film about the relationship with your father?

He has always been someone that inspires me, regardless of our different views and perspective on frames, angles, photographs and art etc. But he is still my father, so both the factors play an important role together. I’ve always wanted to shoot something or the other with my camera. So we would travel, and shooting my parents, my sister became memories that stayed with me. As those memories come together, you want to go through them again especially since I came to Bombay for the first time and started living alone here. Those were things I’d feel happy with. And it is something that is dear to me. So why not make a film around it.

And how did Phantom come on board?

Two years ago I messaged Anurag (Kashyap) and said that I want to make a film on ‘pop pop’. He said, “If you do it honestly and want to portray something that is true then I will be there through the film and will help you.” That’s how Anurag came on board.

How was the experience at the Work-in-Progress lab?

The thing that I gave to them is a simple portrait job. We have another cut. We need to combine and structure the two and balance it. Mainly balance the personal and the professional, the man himself and the director. It’s a fragile relationship.

So, the film here is not the film I am making. It is a part of the film I am making. Here it is just about him (the father) through the daughter’s lens. There is no conflict.

What is the agenda that you come here with, in terms of the film?

We came here to put the two films, the two cuts together. To get the mentors at WIP to help us structure and balance it out. The first thing they said to me after watching the film was, “Why aren’t you there?” and I said that is exactly what I am here to do (merge both the parts). And they got excited and I was excited, after which I showed them my other stuff too. It worked out really well.

How is it that you are presenting essentially two different products?

When I gave the film I said that this is one important part of the film but a perspective is missing. So, they knew about it. And I came here to put the two together.

So, once it is out would you be looking at a big-ticket release? Have you had any discussion with Phantom?

I don’t know. I haven’t had any discussion. I am just focusing on post production right now.

When do you think the film will be ready?

It should be ready in March, in time for film festivals.

-Transcribed by Devanshi Shah