The 20-minute long film is about how dowry affects women even before they get married as parents face the stress of arranging it. The film will be screened in ACMI on August 31.
Gurmeet Sran, an IT professional from Punjab migrated to New Zealand about 10 years back. But he always carried with him his love for filmmaking. Once in Auckland, he enrolled at the South Seas Films and Television School and went on to produce and direct a few short films. He also worked on some video song projects. About a year back he came to Melbourne to explore his talents and because the city has a growing number of Indians who he could showcase his work to.
When the Goddess of Hindustan, a play by Alex Singh, came up last year, Sran got the opportunity to act. “Being a director, it was easy to don the role of an actor,” he says. But the play also provided a platform to meet with like-minded people and strike a friendship. The friendship resulted in the team coming out with a short movie Umeed or hope as it means in Hindi or Punjabi.
Sran says he had long written the script for Umeed. It is based on a real life story and touches the important subject of dowry. His friend’s sister in Punjab was of a marriageable age and the family was wrought by the arrangement of dowry. “The way this true story is presented will mark its category as a separate one amongst documentaries and movies made on this topic,” he says. Generally, dowry is an issue that comes to the surface post marriage when the new bride is harassed to get more money or material gifts to satisfy her new family. But our concept is different, he says. The point his movie makes is therefore this: that dowry exists very much before marriage as well.
The film is 20 minutes long. It centres around a young and bubbly girl who is of a marriageable age girl but as days go by, her parents face the intense pressure of arranging dowry and the frustration of the parents takes its toll on her mental make-up. Sonia Singh plays the lead character of the harassed young woman, Karan Battan plays the 60-year old father and Sunita Sethi plays the mother. The other casts of the film include Vikramjeet Dhunna, Mona Jindal, Jitender Kumar, Shubham Dhamija and Navdeep.
The film was visibly made with few facilities but using Point Cook as its location, the story goes back to Punjab and some of the scenes are also shot in India.
For the team of Umeed who met on the sets of The Goddess of Hindustan, a play by Alex Singh, which was staged at Northcote last year to a full audience, it was birth of a friendship that made them commit to the project. The film will be screened at the ACMI on August 31.