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.”