If cinematically one thing good got here of 2020, it’s in the variety of high quality non-Hindi movies being made. Among them is Prithvi Konanur’s third characteristic, Kannada movie Pinki Elli? (Where’s Pinki?), which was screened at the just-concluded 51st International Film Festival of India in Goa.
The movie unfolds as a whirlpool, with eight-month-old Pinki at its centre. The unaware, harmless, bawling toddler is faultless however creates a ruckus in the lives of these round by simply current. Her mom Bindushree (actor Akshatha Pandavapura) is a working lady. Her father by no means visited her since her dad and mom separated. Her mum’s male good friend doesn’t look after her. Pinki’s caretaker, Sannamma, spikes her milk with alcohol and lends her to her cousin Anusuya to go beg on the streets for a fast buck. The spaced-out Anusuya leaves her unattended and goes for a swig of arrack. A motherless sweeper-woman carries her away, needs to hold her as her personal, and, later, agrees to promote her for adoption, however Pinki doesn’t look poor and unique sufficient. The police detain the native transpersons for the kidnapping. The baby welfare committee is to determine who will get Pinki’s custody. Each is a sufferer of their very own scenario.
As a guardian’s worst nightmare comes true, the gritty 107-minute-long social-realist thriller – shot on handheld digital camera on actual location – isn’t a mere black-and-white telling. It’s not nearly the crime (albeit a widespread one) and criminals, however what follows and the way it disrupts the lives of these concerned. “I had read in a newspaper about this incident of a baby being rented out and it had remained in my mind for many years. I was interested in exploring what happens afterwards,” says Bengaluru-based Konanur, 41, who needed to take the narrative in the route of adoption, not baby trafficking, which “is also a big part of it, but has already been explored on screen many times”. He integrates sure parts when a story requires it, like in the case of Railway Children (2016) to present youngsters as being weak to drug abuse, sexual harassment and different crimes. That movie, which gained the National Film Award for Best Child Artist in 2016, is predicated on a true story, impressed from Lalitha Iyer and Malcolm Harper’s guide of case research Rescuing Railway Children (2013). “It happens not so much in Bengaluru but is a big problem in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad,” he says.
Children in the face of peril are at the centre of Konanur’s movies. Whether runaways or kidnapped, on the streets or at sea, the tales he tells of them are off-beat. The days of how Satyajit Ray made cinema round youngsters are lengthy gone. Children in Indian cinema – if in any respect proven – most of the time, stay a mere blur, until it’s a youngsters’s movie. Western reasonable custom (Iranian, Italian, Brazilian) has proven youngsters as steering narratives for ideological ends, whether or not to communicate of a systemic degeneration/oppression in a much less direct approach or upend their idealising by displaying them as adult-like – corruptible and malevolent. With a shift in his methods, Konanur’s storytelling has additionally moved from fantastical escapades (the Children’s Film Society-produced Alegalu/Waves, 2012) to actuality’s trappings (Railway Children and Pinki Elli?).
Pinki Elli?, whose international-distribution rights have been purchased by Berlin’s Picture Tree International, was introduced as a work-in-progress at the 2019 NFDC’s Film Bazaar Recommends in Goa. The movie had its world premiere in October at the Busan International Film Festival.
Konanur makes a cameo, too, as a intermediary who comes to take a look at Pinki for potential adoption by an Australian household. The director trains the lens on dysfunctional fashionable nuclear households, class economics, gender politics, the saga of migrant employees (a glimpse at their hard-up lives), administrative inefficacies and systemic injustice. Like in Railway Children, the characters had been performed by non-actors (the protagonist got here from a Don Bosco Centre childcare), most actors in Pinki Elli?, too, besides those that play the dad and mom, are non-actors.
Sannamma and Anusuya are real-life cousins, who work as home assist, and are available from slums close to the capturing location in Bengaluru, “so we had to work around their time, they worked till 2-3 pm, we could only shoot after 3 pm, and they couldn’t travel, so we had to go near them. The aim was to keep things simple and real. The challenge was to make them trust you, they feel you are out to scam them,” says Konanur, who give up his software program job in Europe, and wrote a Hollywood-oriented English script which by no means noticed the mild of the day. He then did a diploma at the New York Film Academy and returned to India to make movies. Back dwelling, he walked into Girish Kasaravalli’s set. Gulabi Talkies (2008) had already gone into manufacturing, so Konanur grew to become the clapper boy. But the type of their filmmaking is completely different. While Kasaravalli is extra visible, and works with metaphors, Konanur lets his characters pilot the story.
Konanur, who made a brief Tamil drama, A Conditional Truce, in Sri Lanka in 2008, says, “I actually want to make serious documentaries but it’s extremely difficult to get funding for documentaries in India. Globally, there are funds, but there is equally a tough competition.”
About making movies on these both on the margins or common folks and quotidian life, he says, “I don’t know if it’s a conscious choice of mine. Given the country we live in, the contrast between haves and have-nots has to come through. Giving a statement/message doesn’t work as an artist or filmmaker, though it’s the artist’s duty to hold a mirror to the society, and that’s what I want to do.”