On a journey called life

When Manav Kaul came to Mumbai in the late ‘90s, he knew he wanted to pursue something creative. Not for the money but for the love of it.

Growing up in a small village in Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh, Kaul, a Kashmiri, to tell stories and write poetry, urged him to work as a theatre actor and act in several Bollywood movies such as Jajantaram Mamantaram (2003), I am (2007) and his latest, Kai Po Che (2013).

Stills from the film, Hansa

In 2004, dissatisfied by the plays and the films he was acting in, Kaul founded a theatre group called Aranya with some of his friends. He directed some critically acclaimed plays such as Shakkar ke Panch Daane and Peele Scooter Wala Aadmi, which won him praise. “Directing was the next obvious step because I was really interested in telling stories,” he elaborates. But it was only in 2011 that Kaul gave film direction a serious thought. and decided to helm Hansa, his directorial debut.

Hansa won several awards in the Osian Film Festival in 2012, including the Best Audience choice and Best Critics’ awards. The film has been shot in Uttaranchal within a span of 17 days and tells a story of the resilience of two siblings, a sister–brother duo, after their father leaves them and their pregnant mother behind. What follows after, is a series of incidents that duo experience due to the sudden loss of their father. Explains Kaul, “The story of Hansa was somewhere in my mind, but it was only a vague idea. I was not sure if I could make a film on it. But soon enough, my friends encouraged me that I decided to take the plunge and direct it.”

The film features noted theatre artist Kumud Mishra and some new actors chosen from an intensive 10-day-long acting workshop held in Uttaranchal. “The character of Hansa is played by Sagar Negi, a 12–year-old boy whom we discovered in the workshop. Trimala Adhikari, who plays Chikoo, (the sister) is also a local from the same village. ”

Due to a very low budget, Sachin Kabir, camera person, a friend of the director shot the film. “This film has been made on a very low budget. So, we had to be careful about each and every shot. And I think I was very lucky because my crewmembers that didn’t charge a penny for their expertise.”

These constraints, however, have not made Kaul wary about Hansa’s success. “I make films for myself. If nobody came and saw it, I’ll still be happy and watch it with my friends and family over tea,” he laughs.

Though the film has been showcased in small film festivals, Kaul is open to releasing it commercially. “I would love to if I get a solid backing from a production house, he signs off.

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