Samskara, a suspense-drama, takes a look at the issue of domestic violence
Experiences that leave a mark on the mind during one’s childhood are what define the outlook to life. The short thriller Samskara, a film made on the subject of domestic violence, uses this idea to discuss the topic. Featuring Namit Das and Naman Jain in the lead roles, the film (available on YouTube) by debut director Sankalp Rawal looks at domestic violence through the suspense-thriller lens.
The narrative starts with two characters — a boy and a young man — who are breathing heavily while running. Whether the characters are running away or are running towards something, nobody knows. “As a director, I prefer stories that speak through their silences. Sometimes it is as simple as listening to the characters’ change of breath and in Samskara, you will notice how breathing reflects the reactions of the characters in different situations. Instead of just narrating the story through visuals, I wanted the audience to have a more visceral experience,” explains Sankalp.
The film progresses to show how both the characters have to deal with domestic violence at different stages of their lives. How they react to it, and the outcome of it forms the premise of the film. Speaking about the larger idea behind the story, the director explains, “It’s not like I thought of this concept suddenly. I had seen an uncle die of alcoholism. When I met his son, my cousin, after a decade, I discovered that he too has turned into an alcoholic. My cousin couldn’t have had a better example than his father (to not fall into the trap of alcohol), but I guess his childhood impressions were very strong. That’s when I realised that it doesn’t matter what manners or samskaras you teach your children, they will watch you and learn what you do.”
Samskara got an honorary mention at the Asia South East-Short Film Festival, New York and was nominated for the Golden Fox Award at Cult Critic International Film Festival. The uniqueness of this film is the way it has been executed. Sankalp’s film uses a split-screen to showcase two parallel narratives. “It is a rare for mat and is challenging to execute. We didn’t have a script. We worked on an 80-page storyboard and were hugely dependent on it,” reveals the filmmaker. The film won the Best Editor Award at Indian Cine Film Festival and a special appreciation award at New Delhi Film Festival (NDFF). Next, Sankalp is working on a web series, an untitled crime drama for MX Player.