Interview : Arsala Qureshi and Sabrina Louis

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In their debut English film THE UNFORGETTABLE, the director duo of Arsala Qureshi and Sabrina Louis has incorporated quite a few sex scenes in this steamy dramatic affair. Both women firmly believe that since sex plays an integral part of the film’s story, it was imperative that such scenes were incorporated in the narrative.

You say that sex plays an integral part in the film. Can you elaborate?
See, most of the movies today show a lot of skin, so, I disagree if someone makes a statement that sex is ample in THE UNFORGETTABLE. Yes, it is an integral part of the narrative and has been quite aesthetically shown. However, it is the requirement of the setup that required such scenes to be shot rather than our own personal liking.

Weren’t you wary of Censor Board in India?
We could only keep our fingers crossed and leave the rest to the Censor Board. In any case, over last few years, Censor Board has become far more

‘Aren’t we all the creations of sex?’

understanding and is ready to accept the film maker’s point of view. Also, the film is strictly for the adults; not just due to ample skin show but also due to the complex theme, that’s centred on a man-woman relationship.

Due to a complex and an adult theme, what sort of market are you looking at exploring with the film?
Our film would be released internationally, including India of course, and we have clarity around our market. We are looking at that segment of audience to watch the film which wants to move away from routine cliched ‘pyaar mohabbat’ and holier than thou affair.’

You have been quite open about the ‘sex’ factor in the film. Isn’t this being a little too blatant?
If you ask me, I don’t even know if sex is really the right word here. I look as the man and the woman in my film to be the two characters who are quite comfortable with their skin and know what they want for it. If it happens to be sex, then be it. In any case, aren’t we all the creations of sex? Aren’t we in this world because two people were so desirous of each other and hence led to our birth? So what’s wrong in feeling it that way and be open about your own desires?

It appears that you are showing women in a different light altogether in the film…
I don’t know why but majority of us filmmakers out there love to portray our women as all ‘sati-savitri’. We never portray them as someone who could have her own desire. Even on television, we keep finding similar characters with similar outlook towards life. But are we talking about a real world here? Don’t women give their own beliefs, desires and expectations? This is the subject that we have played around with, in THE UNFORGETTABLE.’

view THE UNFORGETTABLE movie stills

view THE UNFORGETTABLE movie stills

One also hears that the film is based on true events. How much of this is a fact?
Yes, the film’s protagonists are indeed based on some real life characters. What you would see in the movie though is just a sketch of what this girl was in real life. In fact the real happenings in the life of this girl and her man were so much more blatant and unacceptable. We had to mellow it all down to a huge extent and cut short the ruthlessness that she brought with her in real life.

Why didn’t you go all the way?
If we had a free hand and not much worries about bringing the story on the big screen, we would have had even lesser mercy in the characterization of the female protagonist of our film. I don’t think we could even come close to such a character for our film. If we would have done that, it the film would have become too dark and morbid. This is why we played the two characters quite evenly and in a subtle way put forth the extent that they would go to.

And how about the male protagonist?
When the story was being written, we could feel the pain that this guy must have been going through. In fact it took two years to get the final draft of the script in place. We think there were such extreme emotions that these two people were going through that we could have never ever known that such feelings do exist.

What sort of feelings?
The feeling of possessiveness! We saw these two people in love but somehow there wasn’t much positive energy in their affair. We used to become really uneasy in their presence. There was jealousy, obsession and lies involved and it was just not a happy feeling at the end of the day.

Pitched as a film about two extreme characters (played by Raji James and Sofia Hayat), THE UNFORGETTABLE is touted as a film that defies all the rules and stereotypes. While the man completely believes in control of all desires, the woman feels that one should just surrender to the desires if need arises. Screened at The Berlin Film Festival last year, THE UNFORGETTABLE is releasing all over today.

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