Farha Khatun's Holy Rights to be screened at KIFF
National award-winning director Farha Khatun’s latest film is travelling to places and winning accolades. Holy Rights, the 53-minutes long film that deals with the topic of Triple Talaq have already premiered at the 54th HOF International Film Festival, Germany, the 15th Jogja Netpac Asian Film Festival, Indonesia and Dharamshala International Film Festival 2020, among others, will be screened at Kolkata International Film Festival in January and IFFI, Goa. The film has won the Best Director Award at 7th Art Independent International Film Festival and it has also received the prestigious National Laadli Media and Advertising Award for Gender Sensitivity 2020. The 33-year-old filmmaker takes us through the making of the film and working on her next film on bhistis or water carriers in Kolkata. Excerpts:
What is it that prompted you to make a film on the topic of Triple Talaq?
Being a Muslim woman, I was quite aware of Triple Talaq since childhood. I have seen and heard many heart-wrenching stories about it, that affected and influenced me. My quest to know more about the act and its interpretation in the Quran led me to make a film on Safia, a women qazi. Though Triple Talaq is the main focus of the film, it also talks about Muslim women in society and their struggles in many layers.
What kind of research went into the making of Holy Rights.
While making the film, my life experiences primarily helped me understand the community, talking to different feminist and women activists enriched my knowledge further. Also, I kept reading about Amina Wadud and watched different films around the world made on Muslim women’s’ issues.
When was the film conceived and released?
It was conceived in the mid-2014 when my friend Abhisikta Dasgupta told me that some women will be trained as Qazi. I immediately decided that this is something interesting which I would like to be part of. I started shooting in April 2015 and completed the film on March 3 this year. The first screening of the film was on 5th March, this year, at the 16th IAWRT Asian Women's Film Festival.
How did the script of the film develop?
We never had any written script for the film. Over time my team and I tried to capture the moments that we felt could be incorporated in the film. While editing with Sankha da (Sankhajit Biswas), we decided the narrative we wanted to show through the film. Though I was the primary decision-maker, it was complete teamwork. We sat together many times and the decisions were taken after much discussion with the team.
I had the privilege to work with some wonderful persons who stood by my side all the time! Biswajit Das (associate director), Debalina and Priyanka Biswas (Cinematographers), Priyanka More (producer), Sabyasachi (Sound Designer), Santajit (Music Composer), and many others had been a big support to make the film.
Where else has the film travelled?
We had the International premiere at 54th HOF International Film Festival, Germany this year. The film was also part of 15th Jogja Netpac Asian Film Festival, Indonesia, Dharamshala International Film Festival 2020, Dialogues - 14th Calcutta International LGBTQIA+ Film and Video Festival, 22nd Madurai Film Festival and few more. Holy rights won the Best Director Award at 7th Art Independent International Film Festival, it also got the prestigious National Laadli Media and Advertising Award for Gender Sensitivity 2020.
It will get screened as part of Kolkata International Film Festival in early January and later will be screened at IFFI, Goa.
What are your upcoming projects?
I am currently making a film on the water carriers of old Calcutta.