German play turns into chamber film
Santosh Sivan's spin on Georg Büchner's play Woyzeck has found expression in a cineplay, set in a tribal village
German dramatist, Georg Büchner passed away before he could finish writing his play, Woyzeck, and, ever since various directors, writers have posthumously finished his work, making it one of the most performed German plays ever. Joining the league now is acclaimed Indian filmmaker Santosh Sivan. After watching one of the many musical adaptations of the play, Sivan was prompted to recreate the story on film. Only, he wanted to shoot it on set rather than travel to different locations, thereby lending it the feel of a chamber film, also called a cine-play. He felt a chamber film would be the closest to replicating the original play, in terms of look and feel.
"We look at it as an immersive experience where the audiences' imagination plays a big part in creating the world where the story is set. This medium enables these stories to be told with the added advantage of close-ups, camera movements and edit," says the director. Sivan's film, titled Boichek, is about a low-ranking soldier, from a tribal village in Chhattisgarh, played by Rupesh Tillu. The soldier signs up for medical experiments to earn some extra money and one of these experiments result in him getting apocalyptic visions. He sees that the forest he was raised in has now been taken over by mining companies. This creates an unrest in him, and making matters worse, is the realisation that his wife is having an affair.
To pull off a highly technical and a serious film, Sivan needed a talented cast and he found his answers in Tillu, who plays the lead, along with Sugandha Garg, Rajpal Yadav, Bijendra Kalra and Sharad Kelkar. Tillu says, "Oppression and exploitation of the weak is a regular practice in the society. Woyzeck is a dream role for any actor. My attempt was to make the character deeply rooted in the Indian context, to make it appealing to our audience, and universally too."
Instead of screening the film in a multiplex, Sivan sought an off-beat road, to screen it in a performance space, like Harkat Studio. "Boichek is something that will resonate with people from different backgrounds. It is so relevant today as it not only speaks about love but also about global warming, capitalism and tribal displacement. I feel every film has its audience and the word niche isn't really a target or ambition for me."Karan Talwar, curator at Harkat Studios, along with partner Michaela Strobel, agree. "We feel a work like Boichek is in some way built to be seen in a space like ours as it keeps the sanctity of the subject and emotionality intact while still making it a community experience."
Where: Harkat Studio, Aram Nagar, Versova, Andheri West
When: December 9, 9 PM
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A walk through Mohammed Ali Road's Khau Galli