An auteur who is inspired by historical events and stories, Prataya Saha continues to make thought-provoking films
Director Prataya Saha’s characters don’t speak much. They do most of the talking with their eyes, and expressions. Dialogues are few. This is true of Prataya’s latest film Just Another Day which has been doing the rounds in the festival circuit, and has already won a special mention at the Chennai Independent Film Festival and the Best Film on Women award at the Indo French International Film Festival earlier this year.
Actress Anshulika Kapoor plays a woman who wants to file for divorce after she loses her unborn child due to domestic violence. The narrative explores how such a woman is perceived by society, and the impact it has on her mental health. It’s a serious subject but the nuanced filmmaking makes Just Another Day an engaging and entertaining watch. Speaking about why he wanted to explore this subject, Prataya says , “I came across a story online about a woman who had been through domestic abuse when she was pregnant. That a woman who was in her most joyful state and vulnerable had to go through such terrible experience made me feel horrible.”The filmmaker who was raised in a household with strong women around him was keen to tell the story and decided to make the film.
The issue of depression is also cautiously handled in the story. The long pauses and the silences add to the sensitivity of the narrative and this treatment is Prataya’s style of filmmaking which was also evident in his last film, The Good Wife. “My approach to filmmaking is inspired by various genres, and different art forms, like photography and theatre. However, I feel there is a neo-realist element in my films but broadly, they will fall under the genre of contemporary arthouse cinema,” explains Prataya who is an ardent follower of filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray, Christopher Nolan, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, the Coen brothers, and Quentin Tarantino.
Tales from history
In addition to this, the director says he is deeply influenced by what he reads. Coming from a family of immigrants who migrated to India from Bangladesh (East Pakistan then), he says the stories he heard of that period have made him the person he is today. “I read a lot of history, and that’s where I find inspiration. Stories of lands that I have never lived in, but where my ancestors spent a significant part of their lives have influenced me a lot. That’s why I am interested to explore topics of women’s subjugation, xenophobia and citizenship,” he offers. Prataya is now scripting his next two projects — a web series set in Delhi that looks at xenophobia, and a short film on water scarcity. Meanwhile Just Another Day is being screened at other upcoming film festivals and is likely to get an OTT release.