Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist of the 26/11 attacks, fascinates filmmaker Oorvazi Irani. “We, as a nation, have been in multiple dilemmas, thanks to one man. He has raised so many questions in the minds of a country struggling with terrorism — where we stand, how vulnerable we are, what we should do with him, and what exactly our ministers are up to after such a massive breach of security.”
In March, when writer Farrukh Dhondy showed Irani the script of the film, called The K file, which deals with the 26/11 attacks, she knew she had got a chance to answer some difficult questions. With the help of two characters — Asab, the terrorist (played by actor and voiceover artiste Sanjay Nath, who has acted in films such Paathshala and Chance Pe Dance and the TV serial Crime Patrol) and Mantri, the Home Minister (played by actor Tushar Ishwar, who has acted in Tv commercials and the Gujarati play, Ek Chhokri Saav Anokhi) — Irani’s film tries to capture the tension looming after the attacks, mainly around Asab’s death sentence. In the film, while the nation awaits justice, the home minister is worried that Asab’s death sentence will affect the Muslim vote bank. The K File will premiere online on May 28 on YouTube and on Irani’s blog.
Irani is also a film educationist who conducts the Michael Chekhov Acting Course at the Kishore Namit Kapoor Acting Institute in Andheri. The course imparts the Micheal Chekov acting technique, which has been used by actors such as Clint Eastwood, Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brynner and Robert Stack.
Irani says she always meant to release the film online instead of aiming for film festivals. She didn’t want to be “extra arty.” “I don’t think this is a subject that can wait — it is an urgent, burning issue and I think people will want to watch it immediately. Giving it out to film festivals would have meant some amount of secrecy and delay in terms of reaching a wider audience,” says the 35 year-old.
An online release, says Irani, prompted her to treat the film more sensitively. “I think because I was aware that many people will immediately have access to the film — before reviews and critiques could reach out to them — I took special care to not make the film preachy and simplistic,” she explains. It was a deliberate decision to not make a documentary on the issue, but, instead, make a fiction drama out of the story.
The K File does not focus on the days of the attacks. The events form its backdrop and the film then goes on to explore the minister’s circumstances. Irani says she was highly inspired by Iranian cinema and decided to adopt a technique common to it — wherein you take a real incident, infuse relevant fictitious elements to the events and explore burning questions by blurring lines between fact and fiction.
“As a filmmaker, I have tried to ask difficult questions through some stressful drama. What are our politicians doing at this critical juncture — are they playing fair in the investigations? They are only interested in their bl***y vote bank politics. It is challenging to deal with politically and socially charged topics, and even more difficult to not take sides. I hope The K File, as a symbolic drama, manages to do that,” says the Malad resident.
When it came to selecting the cast, Irani was quite clear about her choices. “I have worked with Nath before, and the moment I sat back to think about who fit Kasab’s character, only his face came to mind. I mean that as a compliment, though,” says Irani with a laugh. She, however, decided to change things up a bit — the home minister is a young man instead of the stereotypical senior politician. “That’s another change we wish to see, don’t we — younger leaders who represent the nation. This is the time we can hold a mirror to multiple issues through one man, Kasab, and make sure we get some answers,” says Irani.