Svati Bhatkal: Shouldn't have a judgmental gaze

Updated: Feb 24, 2020, 08:08 IST | Sonia Lulla | Mumbai

Director Svati Bhatkal, whose offering Rubaru Roshni is nominated for Best Web Film in the upcoming mid-day and Radio City Hitlist Web Awards, on exploring subject of forgiveness through cases of murder and violence.

A still from the film
A still from the film

Rubaru Roshni director Svati Chakravarty Bhatkal admits she found her protagonists' stories of forgiveness as "unbelievable" as viewers did. A documentary film revolving around murders, and the ability of the loved ones of the deceased to forgive the killers, was something she was certain she wanted to present to the audience. "I read a few stories in news reports, and reached out to the journalists, who helped me with the required [phone] numbers. Once I started calling and meeting people, I realised that there was something deep here. Initially, I took permission to film them on a handy-cam. Some of them were reluctant. I assured them that if they wanted to pull the plug anytime, they could," says Bhatkal, whose offering has been nominated in the Best Web Film category in the upcoming mid-day and Radio City Hitlist Web Awards.

Giving a platform to individuals who have committed crimes can invite the wrath of viewers, but the director points out that not one of the 23 million who watched the documentary have questioned the "space given to them to speak".

Svati Chakravarty Bhatkal, directorSvati Chakravarty Bhatkal, director

It's important to be balanced, and allow both sides to have their say. People deal with a lot, even in the re-telling of their story. So, it's about staying sensitive and not having a judgmental gaze," shares the director.

Ranjeet Singh Gill was convicted for the murder of MP Lalit MakenRanjeet Singh Gill was convicted for the murder of MP Lalit Maken

Her biggest take-away from the experience was an interaction between two protagonists — Ranjeet Singh Gill aka Kuki, and Avantika Maken, whose parents had been murdered by the former. "Knowing that I was heading to Delhi [where Maken resides], Kukiji and his wife handpicked flowers to create a bouquet for Avantika. When I took it to Avantika, I wasn't sure how she would react to it. But she placed it in a vase and set it [in the living room]. I felt I had been a medium for that to happen," says Bhatkal, who is currently working on her next. "It explores violence from a different lens."

Aamir KhanAamir Khan

So moved was he by the material at hand that producer Aamir Khan had decided to have a television premiere of the documentary, followed by its release on Hotstar and Netflix. In a chat with mid-day last year, explaining his decision, Khan had said, "When I saw the film, I cried... I wanted people across the country to see it first, and then the world. I chose to premiere it on TV due to the wide reach of the medium."

More about Rubaru Roshni

  • Rubaru Roshni has been screened for prisoners and juvenile convicts across India. Bhatkal says the screening was cathartic for a bunch of girls who were rescued from trafficking and were dealing with anger issues.
  • Bhatkal received a note from Mahatma Gandhi's grandson Rajmohan stating that he had loved her film.

Cast your vote for the Hitlist Web Awards

Svati Chakravarty Bhatkal's Rubaru Roshni (Hotstar) has been nominated in the Best Web Film category. The other nominees are:

  • Udai Singh Pawar's Upstarts (Netflix)
  • Bugs Bhargava's Barot House (Zee5)
  • Aditya Kripalani's Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal (Netflix)
  • Faruk Kabir's Ab Normal 377 (Zee5)

There are 14 categories that the public can vote in. Log on to to cast your vote.

You can also vote via SMS. Send HITLIST <space> category name <space> your choice (a/b/c/d as on the website) to 57575.

Voting lines close on March 8.

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