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Gali Guleiyan Director On Normalizing Domestic Violence

One of the most disturbing aspects of  LA-based director Dipen Shah’s  film Gali Guleiyan  on child abuse is that many critics have  not found the abusive father particularly violent.

Dipesh who has taken the film to many prestigious international film festivals feels different cultures respond differently  to  violence. “This  has become a  talking point everywhere that I’ve taken the  film.It’s amazing how differently diverse cultures react to the  child abuse in my film.When  I showed  it in Britain they found it to be extreme violence. But in Israel they responded to the child’s  physical  abuse as we do.  Many  cultures tend  to normalize violence.”

Dipesh  undertook  rigorous research on domestic and child abuse. “I was doing research for a documentary I was planning to make  on child violence how that leads to mental issues.There’s an alarming number of kids that go through violence across cultures.And more horrifically, these kids have 80 percent more chances of developing schizophrenia.There was big case in Texas  where the kid was tried in court for killing his father because he was brutally beaten.And it was debated world over- if it’s okay to place total responsibility on a kid who is still growing up.”

Casting Manoj Bajpai as a man traumatized by his circumtances  and trapped in his environment  proved a blessing nad a curse.

“Blessing  for me, and a curse for Manoj,” laughs  the director. “I was scared  of what the character was doing to Manoj.I thought he was immersed in his character.But when he told me that he was on the brink of  a mental  breakdown  I panicked. He just sat there waited for his shot. Always in character.”

Dipesh says  Manoj’s character represents urban disaffection at  its most acute. “I see it everywhere . Essentially I wanted to tell a story of man trapped in the maze of an old city .But I was  not interested in just physical entrapment. That  would have been too thin and not layered. But when I was working on researching for a documentary on child violence. It suddenly hit me: what about entrapment of the  mind?These people never get out of their past and trauma. So a man trapped in the city because he is still trapped in his mind and past won’t let him go. And city becomes representative of his mind,It started to make sense for a story.”

The shock  ending of  Gul Guleiyan has been seen by many critics as a  means to send audiences home with a delectable secret.  But Dipesh doesn’t see the film’s finale as a fit of flourish. “My idea was never to build a film suspense like Manoj Shyamalan’s The  Sixth Sense. For me that would have cheapened it.I didn’t want audiences  to come  out of the film only talking about the twist. Though I could have easily done that in the edit by removing the clues etc but I deliberately kept them- wanting the audience to find out ,  then watch the journey unfold . I thought that’ll create a bigger discussion about the movie. Because right now  the point of revelation is different for different audience. So they also come out and talk about his- along with their experience of the movie.”

Dipesh Jain is now working on  two  projects. “One is in casting in LA.It’s  called A STONES THROW AWAY,a  political drama set in Kashmir that explores relationship between a loner American dam engineer and Kashmir child soldier. The second is  a series we’ll pitch to HBO, based on a real person that’ll be shot in NY and Sikkim (currently have 4 writers from London and LA in our writers room).That’ll have Chinese, Hollywood and Indian actors working on it.”

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