National Award-winning filmmaker Gurvinder Singh’s next feature in Punjabi language, Adh Chanani Raat (Crescent Night) to make its World Premiere at the prestigious 52nd International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) held from 26 January to 6 February 2022. The film is part of the Harbour section which offers a safe haven to the full range of contemporary cinema that the festival champions.
Originally planned to be held physically, IFFR has moved online this year too for the second consecutive year due to growing concerns over the spread of the Omicron Covid variant across Europe making it the first major European film festival to take the virtual route in 2022.
A Contentflow Studios production, Adh Chanani Raat is produced by Bobby Bedi of Bandit Queen and Maqbool fame Vipul D Shah, Manmohan Shetty and Rajesh Bahl.
Adh Chanani Raat is Gurvinder Singh’s third feature in the trilogy of Punjabi language films after Anhey Ghorey Da Daan (2011 Venice Film Festival, Orizzonti) and Chauthi Koot (2015 Cannes Film Festival , Un Certain Regard) to be adapted from literary works of noted Punjabi authors.
Also, this is Gurvinder Singh’s second feature to be inspired from Gurdial Singh’s novel by the same name after his highly acclaimed debut feature, Anhey Ghorey Da Daan (Alms for a Blind Horse).
Set in rural Punjab, Adh Chanani Raat features an ensemble cast including acting debuts of Jatinder Mauhar as Modan (noted Punjabi filmmaker of Qissa Panjab, Mitti, Sarsa), Mauli Singh as Sukhi (indie publicist/producer) and professional actors like Samuel John (Ruldu), Raj Singh Jhinger (Geja), Dharminder Kaur (mother) and is shot by Satya Rai Nagpaul, edited by Avneesh Chhabra, music by Marc Marder, costumes by Navjeet Kaur and dialogues by Jasdeep Singh.
Director Gurvinder Singh says, “The question always hangs before a filmmaker: what next after a film? And more importantly, why? Having made two films in Punjabi language and set in the Punjab, both different from the other, one dealing with the angst, alienation and exploitation of the underprivileged lower classes in the Punjab; and the other dealing with the violence and fear unleashed in the region during the conflict for greater autonomy for the Sikhs in the 1980s, both by the state and the extra-constitutional actors; the underpinning has been the individual and the family offset against a larger socio- political cauldron which is in ferment. The private set against the public, the individual vis-à-vis the state and its institutions, especially the law maintaining machinery; the power wielded by the state and its various manifestations. How violence, both visible and invisible, invades homes and has the ability to create tensions and upheavals in individual lives, even though they are not agents of the same.
Taking the same theme further, ‘Crescent Night’ explores the structure and means of violence and its implications on the individual and the family. Here violence pertains to the greed emanating from landholdings and the desire to wield power at the local level. It’s the means to power by creating fiefdoms through increasing one’s possessions of land and money. And in this drive to wield power, family affiliations are laid wayside. Brothers become enemies, blood relations are soured and family affiliations become victims of subterfuge. Victimhood is invoked to take revenge, and revenge becomes a display of one’s masculinity and manhood. Anything else is condemned and labeled as meek and ‘feminine’.
The pressure to keep up with the male hegemony and patriarchy leaves in its trail streaks of blood and regretful bravado. And to live by and believe in one’s actions becomes a lifelong mission, however faulty and remorseful. In the context of the story, violence comes full circle for the protagonist Modan. His sincere efforts to shun violence and restart his life by having a family, come to nought in the end as old wounds have still not healed. Provocation is always round the corner and to be provoked means having to give a befitting reply. And it no longer remains confined to a befitting reply, but to strive to gain power and an upper hand in the local power equations.
To dethrone the ‘villains’, through any means that justify the end. The story does not have visible villainous characters, they are omnipresent. They don’t come face to face, but haunt the protagonist, to the extent that his entire being is driven by their invisible presence. It symbolizes the invisible character of the structurally violent establishment. When the decadent structure is resisted violently, the resistor has to face consequences, the way Modan does. The Crescent Night aims an intimate and close look at all of the above besides gender equations in a by and large patriarchal society.”