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“Nobody Can Stop an Artist”

By Kinjal Sethia

peacock_22_11_16-14“Desperate times call for desperate expression,” says 29-year-old director Saurav Rai. His ‘Gudh’ (2015) was India’s sole entry to in the 69th Cannes film festival’s Cinéfondation Selection. The Nepali language film is autobiographical, reviewing glimpses of Rai’s childhood amidst the upheavals of the Gorkhaland movement that has roiled the Himalayan region for decades. The director says, “I believe the political scenario influenced my childhood, but not my existence. It is a small part of who I am, among other things.”

Gudh’ (meaning ‘nest’) is set between Darjeeling in India and Kathmandu in Nepal. Rai says, “it is a disjointed story of the memories I have. In a way it is an indulgent film, of me trying to make sense of my childhood. The Gorkhaland movement is shown as just a streak with a single image showing the army. As it is a personal film, I wanted to leave it apolitical.”

But tensions lie below the surface in ‘Gudh’, Rai says “everybody coped with the political upheaval in their own way, and my family had a different way of dealing with it. I am more interested in communicating my personal experience. Showing the problems of the whole community requires a larger canvas. I feel if everybody does their own duty, then the whole problem will be resolved.”

“I want to do my work, and leave everybody else to do their work. There will no need for political demands. It is not that I do not support the movement but I strongly believe in ‘live and let live’. I feel that I should concentrate on my own self-improvement and help those around me, and if everybody does this, ultimately it will help the country.”

Gudh’s cinematographer, Abhishekh Ray is from Assam, another state troubled by insurgency and violence. He believes creativity must not be hampered by political crises around the artist. “Territorial divisions are happening at many places, for instance the creation of Telangana from Andhra. There is angst among the people because their demands have not been satisfied. Art, however, survives these upheavals and can, in fact, be used to portray these historical events.”

Saurav Rai says, “ultimately if the artist wants to express something, he will. If I am moved or excited by some happening around me, I will make a film, regardless of technological or financial support. Nobody can stop an artist.”