While developing the story, we sensed a global appeal and started sending the film to festivals. “Jhalki is rooted in real life and has a strong visual appeal. “Eventually, we bounced the script with Kailash Satyarthi, who had supported the film idea right from the beginning,” he smiles. The more stories we tell about them, the less marginalised they will be. “Ideally, we would have wanted Kailash Satyarathi himself, but when we approached Irani, he was extremely forthcoming. I am not like that. A nine-year-old girl is in search of her seven-year-old brother, who gets caught in child labour,” says Brahmanand, who had written the story along with Prakash Jha many years ago. Recently, the trailer was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Jhalki is a beautiful and heartwarming story set against the backdrop of bonded child labour, trafficking and lost childhood, says Brahmanand S Siingh. It suited the premise of Jhalki well.”
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Brahmanand points out how independent cinema is open to experimenting more with sync sound. That’s the thing about being a filmmaker. I like meeting people and interacting with the audience. I travel a lot. Stories don’t think of what is outside the frame. I have seen a lot of filmmakers desperately trying to make films. “Also, designing costumes took us more time. A good film has to create multiple meanings. It is a journey of life and hope. Irani is one such method actor.”
What’s next? The Mumbai-based award-winning director is excited about his next, Jhalki, featuring Boman Irani, Sanjay Suri, Divya Dutta and others in important roles. It is about thinking differently, breaking stereotypes, finding alternative ways of making your films and experimenting,” he signs off. We were looking for artistes across Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Brahmanand isn’t anxious about when his next film will be made. This will be a film that you don’t step out of the theater and forget,” he assures. “Despite the technological challenges, the 60s and 70s produced some of the best quality soundtracks as most of the makers kept sound close to real life as possible and not cinematic. “Jhalki’s character is a firebrand. Both Aarti and Goraksh are terrific and understood what was needed of them. Personally, I believe sound is a character in a film and that should be as much about the sound as it about the visuals,” he adds. It was great to see them internalise, perform and improvise. How did Brahmanand rope in Bollywood actor Boman Irani? We see a lot of children being pushed into this. It is not about normalising something, but recognising their pain, their struggles,” Brahmanand elaborates. It is a pleasure to have excellent actors who own their characters. He doesn’t accept films easily but genuinely felt he should be a part of Jhalki. The idea is to view this experience as a journey. So, we had to find someone, who would shoulder the entire film. “I have had my perceptions changed by films and I hope the same to happen for mine. From the time of Lagaan, Bollywood started warming up to the trend. Why bonded labour, in particular? Advertising
Brahmanand believes in his vision and voice. Everyone’s path is different. If my story happens to find the audience, it finds an audience. Speaking about the challenges of getting the lead child actors on board, Brahmanand says, they shortlisted over 50, narrowed down to 15 and finally zeroed in on four through a two-week workshop. They endured summer, braving heat and dust,” he adds. Brahmanand shares the story happens in the 90s and the makers had to source film posters of that period to bring in more authenticity to the milieu. “There is nothing unfortunate than a lost childhood. It is your journey and it is going to be unique,” he says. It works locally as well as universally. Jhalki, scheduled to release next month, has also travelled to the prestigious New York Film Festival, besides many. 0
Brahmanand observes there is a mushrooming of festivals within India and abroad that showcase the warmth of human stories. Otherwise, the characters speak Bihari Hindi and we extensively shot in Mirzapur because the place had maximum carpet factories. “Jhalki is a beautiful and heartwarming story set against the backdrop of bonded child labour, trafficking and lost childhood. “I wouldn’t make something for the masses, but I have my own calling.