By Dr. Priyaankaa Mathur
Marathi Short film Khisa (pocket), Directed by Raj More receives the 67th National Award 2021 for the Best Debut Direction category. The film has been receiving critical acclaim, nominations and awards both nationally and internationally.
Khisa is among the select 58 feature films, documentaries and short films in 15 languages from across India that have been selected to be screened at the 21st New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF), one of the most prestigious Indian film festivals globally.
The film has made to the Official selection of various international film festivals to include Montreal Independent Film Festival Canada 2020, 26th (KIFF) Kolkata International Film Festival 2020, Dioroma International film festival 2020, and Indie Shorts Awards Buenos Aires, Argentina 2020.
Nationally, the film has made to the Official Selection at the Indian Panorama for (IFIFI) 51st International Film Festival of India, Goa 2020. The film has received two awards at the Istanbul Film Awards 2020,for the Best Film and The Best Screenplay categories. The film has received the 10th Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival 2020 for its screenplay.
The film has been appreciated for its unique subject that deals with a grim social reality in India, which has been treated rather subtly. Khisa is a story about a young boy who proudly roams around in the village wearing a shirt with a big pocket which he decorates with a motive. The motive later becomes the point of contention amongst the religious fanatics, while the little boy is forced to remove it. The story portrays the loss of innocence and how the young boy comes to terms with the harsh reality of today’s polarized times.
Vedant Shrisagar plays the lead child actor in the film, while Kailash Waghmare plays his father who’s also the writer of the film. Meenakshi Rathod, Shruti Madhydeep and Dr. Sheshpal Ganvir play the supporting roles.
Filmmaker and Director Raj More who happens to be a contemporary visual artist, from JJ school of Art, Mumbai always at a passion for Filmmaking. After winning the coveted National Award for the second time, his first being the 54th National Academy Award by Lalit Kala Academy New Delhi, More says, “Every filmmaker wishes to win a National Award, while for me it has come true twice, which has given me a lot of confidence.”
Talking about how challenging was it to select a child artist in the lead role More says, “It’s very difficult to cast a lead actor as a child. Since the script demanded a village set up, the entire film was shot in my native village Anantapur and Balapur, in Akola (Vidarbha) Maharashtra. Eventually, I went to cast the lead actor from some 100-200 hundred boys from a local school in Akola. Finally found Vedant Shrisagar who ended up rendering the role.”
More throws light on what inspired him to take up this subject and what makes this story unique, saying, “While I was planning to make a film, during a discussion with writer Kailash Waghmare, he told me of an incident in his village where a child attempted to stand out from the crowd by wearing a shirt with an unusually large pocket. I realized that this was the story I wanted to tell, which is a very contemporary story in today’s point of view in the society.”
More adds,” Since Khisa is my first film it was difficult to find someone to produce a short film, and so I decided to produce and fund the film from my pocket. Santosh Maithani joined hands with me eventually who also edited the film. The film was eventually presented by PP Cine Production Mumbai and Laaltippa Films. I received huge support from my entire cast and crew on the project especially my DOP Simarjit Singh Suman, Music Director Parijat Chakraborty, Sound recordist-Kushal Sarda, writer- Kailash Waghmare.”