'Sisak': India's first LGBTQ silent film
Poster of the movie 'Sisak' Photograph: (Others)
Indian film director, Faraz Arif Ansari, has made a 20-minute short film, titled ‘Sisak’ on the LGBTQ community of India. The movie deals with their struggle, especially the ordeal they face while using public transport in the country. The director was unaware that his film would turn out to be India’s first silent LGBTQ movie.
The name of the movie ‘Sisak’ is an Urdu origin word, meaning "sob stuck in the throat" - with reference to the dilemma faced by the LGBTQ community. The movie documents two men who take the same local train in the city of Mumbai, India, every night. It captures the discrimination they face while travelling every day. Ansari has made a silent movie, using transitions and poetry of their encounter with different set of people. The men don’t talk to one another, while on the journey and the movie makes use of real-life noise and music, to tell a story of love, but also of fear and despair.
Ansari thought of the plot nearly four years ago, in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling reinstating Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalised homosexuality.
The director narrated how he thought of the plot in an interview to HuffPost India: “I was working on another screenplay in a cafe in Nainital at the time. I tried to compose a tweet, but deleted it. I wanted to put up a Facebook post, but couldn't find the words."
In the end, he opened a word document and wrote the entire story of Sisak — in three hours flat.
Faraz Arif Ansari, Director, Sisak (Pinterest)
In the meanwhile, he kept contemplating on using dialogues but decided against it, as he thought ‘no words would do justice’.
On why he wanted the movie to be silent, he said, “We are a part of a generation that rants everywhere. Sometimes silence can allow us to look inside and connect with ourselves. In a world where the young seem driven by likes and retweets, people have forgotten to love."
It wasn’t all smooth sail for Ansari, as he had to struggle with uncertainty, facing problems like lack of funding, actors dropping out just few days before the shoot and worse being chased by police while shooting on site. The film had a budget to shoot for just five days, but he wrapped it up in just three days, owing to shortage of funds.
Among other challenges, the actors had to change into their costumes behind dupattas held up by the female members of the crew. The team also had to be swift on their feet, moving from one platform of the train to the next, in a couple of minutes.
The movie has now been submitted to Cannes this year. He is already in the process of making the short film into a full-length silent feature film.