In today’s age, filmmakers have more of a responsibility than ever to make cinema that is not just entertaining, but is also socially relevant on some level.

Many a films in the last few years have broached upon the subject of exploitation and mistreatment of women, but few come as close as renowned Marathi National Film Award winning filmmaker Gajendra Ahire.

Ahire, who has made some hard-hitting, powerful films like Anumati, Shewri and Not Only Mrs. Raut has in an auteur in that sense with recurring themes of women exploitation, dysfunctional families and suppression by traditional society in almost all of his films. His latest film, The Silence, is perhaps his best work to date. Starring Anjali Patil, Raghuvir Yadav and Nagraj Manjule (of Sairat fame), The Silence is a layered work that looks at misogyny, sexual abuse and tells us what it is really like to be a woman in India. We spoke to the director himself about what went into the making of his latest work. Read on.

In a time when rape victim stories have the risk of boring the viewer (due to so many of them today), what prompted you to pick up this story?
The story was my producer Ashwini Sidwani’s. I shared her passion for wanting to tell the story about child sexual abuse and that too when the culprit is within the family. While researching the story, Ashwini had spoken not just to the victim on whose story the movie is based but had spoken to other victims as well. As a result, we’ve been able to give a realism in the film that is very uncommon.
The film has a powerful cast including Anjali Patil, Raghuvir Yadav and Nagraj Manjule. Tell us a bit about the process. How was it working with such a diverse cast?
I have been fortunate to have worked with several extremely talented actors like Nilu Phule and Shreeram Lagoo. Great actors according to me, are easy going and follow simplicity and this I’ve found in the cast of The Silence. I don’t have to direct them, I just have to explain the character to them.
The film is minimalistic when it comes to the music. What was your brief to Indian Ocean?
After we had done the rough editing of The Silence, we felt that we needed different kind of background music and hence decided to bring Indian Ocean on board. I sent them the rough edit and they immediately understood what was required including the need for minimalist music and the use of silence. They incorporated the music within the edit and sent it back to me and we were good to go with the bulk of the music.
The beautiful, bright shots are juxtaposed with the looming violence and darkness of the story. Was this a conscious decision by you and your DOP, or something that happened organically?
For me, the script dictates everything. The pace of the script will determine the types of locations, the shots and the angles that are used. The Silence demanded that the pace of the film be slow to allow the audience to experience the emotions. As a result, you’ll see wide sweeping lush landscapes and shots of small claustrophobic rooms. We’ve used silence as another means to allow the user to experience emotions.
What is next for the team of The Silence and for yourself? Tell us a little about your upcoming projects.
My next project is titled Pimpal which is about a retired widower’s quest to find his roots; his home. It stars Dilip Prabhavalkar, Priya Bapat and Kishore Kadam.
Pimpal has just begun its festival journey and we would be looking at a mid-2018 release for it.