‘Sisak’, Faraz Arif Ansari’s silent film about two men who take the same Mumbai local for their daily commute and fall in love with each other, is a breath of fresh air in today’s cinematic landscape.
What makes this particular film so appealing isn’t just the clever visual storytelling, it’s the story itself, which gives voice to the silent prison so many Indians LGBTQ in the community endure, in a country where homosexuality is illegal.
How the movie came to be
Ansari was working on a screenplay in Nainital when he first started work on Sisak’s screenplay. Speaking to Huffpost India, he says, “I was sitting at a little café, having my breakfast and watching the news. That was the day that the judgement on Section 377 was reversed. I don’t remember feeling as helpless as I felt that day. I wanted to write a post on Facebook, I wanted to tweet, I wanted to do so much but I couldn’t do anything. Instead, I sat down and I wrote this film.” He wrote the entire story in three hours, and poignantly titled it ‘Sisak’, an Urdu word meaning a silent cry stuck in the chest.
In writing the story, Ansari drew from his personal experiences of riding Mumbai’s trains for hours. It was during these journeys that he noticed the gay cruising scene in the locals. Talking to the Hindu, he says “There’s a whole world out there that no one talks about. It’s silent and beautiful; sensual and subtle. It’s a compartment full of men; most of them are lonely and looking for love. I don’t know what happens when they step out of the train and go back home, but when they’re there, they’re looking for love.”
Filming and funding
After casting Jitin Gulati and Dhruv Singhal as the leads, the film was shot entirely by small crew with minimal equipment, shooting late nights in a train from Churchgate to Andheri.
Ansari turned to Wishberry to fund the production of the film and pay the cast and crew who worked for free. By the time the campaign was over, he had raised five and a half lakhs.
Why a silent movie?
“The Government have literally pulled the tongues out of our mouth,” says Ansari in the same interview. “That’s why it’s a silent film. It’s about two people who want to be together, but they can’t because of your laws.”
Indeed, not once do the protagonists of the film speak or touch each other. The sounds of silence ring loud and clear.
The movie has been submitted to the Cannes Film Festival and is set to premiere this May, and this in itself is worth cheering. It’s an old-fashioned story but one that reaches out across boundaries of language and geography. It’s honest. It’s human. And well, it’s an inspiration.
Watch the trailer for the movie below and follow Sisak on Facebook for updates.
Written by Advaitaa Ravi
Featured image source: Sisak on IMDB