The child artistes in the short film “Natkhat”, which sheds light on the various issues surrounding gender inequality, are all untrained non-actors.
The film, which is directed by Shaan Vyas and written by Vyas and Annukampa Harsh, stars Vidya Balan and child actress Sanika Patel.
Annukampa recalled how they first chose the child actress Sanika, and then wrote the film around the milieu of her hometown Harda, so that it would be easy for the young actress to adapt to the story. The other children who have done roles in the film were also picked up accordingly.
Said Annukampa: “We had consciously made the decision to not commit to any specific state in our story so that we could create a film that was relatable to everyone from around the country. And we also made a decision to move our shoot to whichever place our Sonu is from, because instead of including any kind of nuances or language-based nuances in the writing and then finding a child who cannot adapt to that easily, rather find a child and adapt our story around our culture and mannerisms of that child.”
The writer added: “Once we found Sanika, Shaan and I flew down to Harda to meet Sanika since we had never met her face to face before. We wanted to spend some time with her and get to know her. Most of the major theatre scenes are based out of places like Bhopal and Indore and we wanted to avoid having to bring in talent from different parts of the country.”
So, they decided to find talent based out of Harda.
“Once we found our actors, we made them understand why we are making this story by sensitising the children to the ruling culture, and we were teaching them to be nice children. We created a lot of conversations about respect for each other and how everyone needs to be taken care of, making them extremely conscious of how they treat each other. Through conversations with them, we found techniques or the keys to tap into their emotions to help them act,” explained the writer.
“Natkhat” has been produced by Vidya Balan and Ronnie Screwvala.