My father's son
Catch Ajay Noronha's A Picture of You, a quest to search for his father, against the backdrop of the Goan Catholic community that found its moorings in Nagpur
“I wanted to shoot this documentary to bring back my father and not lose him, this time,” says prolific cinematographer and second-time director, Ajay Noronha. A Picture of You, is his attempt to find out about his father who he lost at the tender age of six, the Goan community in Nagpur and his own roots. Showcasing his year-old documentary today, the director decides to walk down the memory lane.
“When I was getting married in 1998, my mum was upset for me getting married outside faith. It was at this time, she started saying, ‘what would your father have thought about this?’ which got me thinking that I know nothing about him,” recalls Noronha who has been dividing his time between projects such as Kaun Banega Crorepati, Koffee with Karan, and Slumdog Millionaire.
In 2002, on a quest to find about his father, the man in the only picture he had, Noronha was most upset to discover that his mother had burnt their only black-and-white family album. “I was mad about it,” says Noronha, who took a decade in confronting the idea of making this documentary. “I feel that the film is a cinematographer’s search for an image to recreate memories.”
Putting many pieces together, Noronha apprises us that his grandfather was in the railways, who after extensive travelling, anchored in Nagpur. As his retirement plan he found the Coronation Bakery that opened shop in the year Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne till the Second World War. The three sons, however, found their calling in the military, a trait many of the community in that generation shared. “My father’s elder brother and my father got into the Indian Air Force and his younger brother enrolled in the army,” Noronha mentions.
The film will take one through a mother’s reluctance to speak about the father due to her grief and a middle-class Goan Catholic community who built their lives in a knitted way, as it exists in the lanes of Mumbai — Gymkhana (Santacruz) and Catholic Gymkhana (Charni Road). “Facing my own demons was a major challenge. It was not something I would have put up with one year ago,” concludes the maker of Bhailey (his first film) while seeped in nostalgia and longing.
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