‘Dvaita’ – Exploring ‘duality’ in frames

'Dvaita' (Duality) - Focussing on an ageing actor struggling with dementia, which forces him on a path of self-destruction, screened at SAFF

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Focusing on an ageing actor struggling with dementia, which forces him on a path of self-destruction, what is special about ‘Dvaita’ (Duality) screened at the Washington DC South Asian Film Festival is the way it was shot during the lockdown.

Directors Sanjeev and Rak Avatar recall giving partial scenes and getting the actors including Shishir Sharma, Renita Kapoor and Rachita Arke on Zoom calls.

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“They would all do their lines in different styles and options, and we would rehearse on Zoom. Even during the editing process, we had to rely on the online calls a lot. Rak did the editing and colour grading on his machine and we would review the footage to our hearts content via Zoom,” recalls Sanjeev.

The directors had been planning to make a film with actor Shishir Sharma for a long time.

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It was Rak who came up with the initial idea that it could be about a thespian teaching acting workshop who keeps losing memory in the middle of it. And there could be a twist involving his daughter.

Sanjeev’s love for history and theatre pushed the idea further. And Shishir’s comment — “all actors are by nature insecure. This insecurity goes with them through successes and failures” added a new dimensions.

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“It suddenly dawned that there was a power premise in our hands. Although the overarching emotion is that between a daughter and her father, we tried to layer it with themes like ego, acceptance and issues like dementia, of being a victim and the unspoken suffering of a caregiver,” recalls Rak.

Adding that short films will be their medium for the foreseeable future as it allows them to work on multitude of subjects and exploit insights from literature, philosophy and day to day life into a complete entertainment packet, Sanjeev says, “We both think that the audience landscape has changed. The attention spans have shortened. Owing to Covid, a shorter version of entertainment has found its place.”

“There are more possibilities to experiment and create something unique. So, we will focus on that for the time being,” he adds.

In fact Rak has made another short film, ‘All Dressed Up’, after ‘Dvaita’.

The film is a story of a man who is struggling to express himself amidst the rigid social constructs of how a man should show up in society.

It is being submitted for film festivals abroad. He is also working on a web series based on slice of life.

Meanwhile, Sanjeev has had his photographs exhibited in an art gallery in the US and has directed a play after after ‘Dvaita’.

“I have also been working on a photography project called ‘Friend on a Canvas’ which is blending dramatic photography with our inner exploration and healing work. This is besides a story for my next short film which Rak and I will be making together.”

Stressing that OTT platforms have given everyone hope and a creative canvas to paint their unique stories on, the duo feel that they are evolving right now. And therefore there is an overflow of the content.

“As the time progresses, quality content will take the center stage. And we will have different platforms showcasing unique quality contents and create their little niches. Every niche will have an ecosystem of film makers, platforms and audiences. That will be a great time for quality entertainment,” says Rak.

–By Sukant Deepak

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