Mumbai (Reuters) - A short film centered around the 1984 anti-Sikh riots has been selected for screening at this year’s Venice Film Festival.
“Kush” is a 20-minute film based on a real-life incident about a teacher who saves a Sikh student during the riots following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.
The film, made by 21-year-old Indian film student Shubhashish Bhutiani, will be screened in the festival’s “Orizzonti” section, which showcases new trends in world cinema.
It is the only Indian film to be screened at the 70th edition of the festival, which kicks off with the George Clooney starrer “Gravity” on August 28.
Shot on a shoestring budget of 8 lakh rupees and with help from friends and parents during the shoot, Bhutiani says he didn’t tell anyone he was entering his film in the festival.
“I had absolutely no hopes that it would be selected. I just entered it and didn’t tell anyone,” he told Reuters over phone from New York, where he is studying filmmaking at the School of Visual Arts.
Bhutiani said he was inspired to make the film after he heard his own teacher narrate her experience.
“I am taking a stand against violence, I guess. But otherwise, my film is about the characters and their story. I am not making any political statement.”
The riots killed nearly 3,000 people, most of them Sikhs.
Bhutiani said he wasn’t sure if the film would be released in India, given that the market for short films is virtually non-existent in the country.
“I am OK with it never releasing in India, because I know what the market is like. But I would like it to travel to festivals all over, because it shows a positive, human side of India that I would like everyone to see.”
Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar, editing by David Lalmalsawma