As this Indian film is seen by its home audience for the first time, its director tells us what drove him to make it…
SIDDHARTH CHAUHAN is an upcoming Indian director and has made a mark internationally with his first feature, ‘Amar Colony’.
We talk to him about its world premiere at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia and his Special Jury Prize there.
The film is set in the fictional, ‘Amar Colony’ and has a small cast of characters who live in this modest, crumbling tenement in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. Chauhan says he wants to make films set there.
There is a younger wife character, Meera who is pregnant and rather lonely and seeks pleasure and fulfilment with other young men in the building…
The older women too lead very unsatisfactory lives… and the film has an interesting tone and is one of the more graphic (in content) in pulling the curtain back on how some people manage loneliness, desire and boredom in small town India. Recommend watching it these subjects interest you and you want a very Indian angle on these issues.
Quirky, original, arresting….
SET IN THE HIMALAYAN foothills, ‘Amar Colony’ is an intriguing and stimulating first feature from writer-director Siddharth Chauhan.
The fictional tenement is in Shimla, in Himachal Pradesh and looks at a handful of inhabitants and folks who visit the building.
The most memorable character is Meera – pregnant but bored, frustrated and unhappy, she finds solace with other young men in the building or workers who visit frequently.
For an Indian film, this is quite explicit – though by present streaming standards (even in India) it isn’t exactly shocking, but the censor board may find it objectionable as big screen entertainment even for an Adult/18 audience.
Nevertheless, Chauhan should be applauded for his boldness and courage in tackling a topic that is often quietly pushed aside in India – ie personal desire, not just sexual but on several different personal levels.
The elderly women too struggle with their needs and no one is happy.
Having said all that, it isn’t totally bleak and Chauhan’s flight of fancy with surreal scenes and some gentle comedy keep you watching.
There is also a homosexual couple and this too remains relatively rare even in mainstream western drama, so again Chauhan is pushing boundaries and testing an audience’s reaction and expectations.
If Chauhan can maintain his boldness and his ability to draw female characters rooted in a relatable reality – but on the edge also – in a way that is believable and credible, he could be carving an interesting niche for himself in Indian indie cinema and we very much hope women filmmakers too will also explore these slightly taboo areas. Bravo!
Acv star rating: ***½ (out of five) for his bold filmmaking style.
The film will have its Indian premiere at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) which opened today (December 9) and closes on Friday, December 16.