Why Rohena Gera chose Tillotama Shome for an award winning film?

Tillotama Shome and Rohena Gera

Rohena Gera’s SIR has become quite a favourite in the festival circuit. Besides getting a theatrical release in more than 20 countries, the film has also been screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, had a Gala premiere at Zurich Film Festival and screenings across the world from the Czech Republic to Melbourne, California and Israel, as well as other festivals in Europe. It has also won audience awards at the Festival du Film de Cabourg/ France and Festival World Cinema Amsterdam / Netherlands. Rohena is also the first female filmmaker to have bagged the Gan Foundation Award at Cannes for the film

The film, that stars Tillotama Shome and Vivek Gomber, is a love story that revolves around the class divide in India. Talking about the thought process behind casting them, Rohena says, "I wanted actors who would completely become these two characters. And Vivek and Tillotama are both very hard working, sincere actors who put everything into bringing these characters to life with honesty," she says, adding, "For instance, Ratna is optimistic and dynamic, she believes in her dream. But she’s not silly or naive. Even in difficult times, she maintains her dignity. She can be self-effacing but strong. I needed an actor who would bring that maturity and complexity to the role."

"Ashwin’s role was difficult because he has a lot of internal struggles and there are things he can’t say. He plays the good son and tries to be a good man, but at times he is as vulnerable as a little boy. We needed to see the mask crumbling slowly... it’s a difficult and thankless role because it is very subtle."

Rohena is confident that the Indian audiences will love the film as well. "I believe that the Indian audiences are just as smart and sensitive as any other audiences. We need to bring the film to them in a way that allows word of mouth and conversation. Obviously, we can’t try to compete with the star power of the big films but I think there is a place for us too!" she says.

The filmmaker is not looking to spread a message, all she wants is for people to enjoy the film. "I think we have a long tradition of love stories... above all the film is about emotions not ‘issues. If people accept the film, it will be on an emotional level. And if they discuss it later that is great... but the important thing for me is that people go to the cinema and enjoy those 90 minutes," she says.