New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANS): "Alert -- Condition: Red", an Assamese short film on menstruation, is set to soon compete at the International Images Film Festival for Women in Zimbabwe. Its Assamese director, Xahid Khan, says the festival is special because the films that are going to compete or get screened there are all based on women's issues.
The short film, which has been to various festivals, including the International Guwahati Film Festival and Cine Miami Fest in the US, is about a girl's first period in a public place.
"Yes, it is in the competition section. It will be held from August 26 to September 2 in Zimbabwe (Harare). Every film festival is important for me. But this one is even more special because the films that are going to compete or get screened at the festival are all based on women's issues," Khan said in an exclusive email interview with IANS.
Most indie filmmakers from northeast India tend to make films on the political situation there or about the numerous tribal groups. What made him pick up a subject like menstruation?
"It's good that indie filmmakers from Northeast make films on such topics as they are very informative and eye-openers. But I try to think about global issues rather than being limited to regional issues. I came across an article about the struggles of piles patients and discussed it with somebody.
"That's how and when I thought about menstruation and the struggles of women. Menstruation is often considered as a taboo in many countries," he said.
So, he decided to bring it out on a public platform and discuss menstruation through a "heart-touching story".
He had a hard time in finalising the cast. "It was hard to cast the central character. It took me more than a month. We (the film's team) got many suitable artistes, but when they came to know about the subject, they refused to work. We asked the reason behind their refusal.
"Some said their parents didn't permit them to work on films with such themes and some considered the film as an adult one that could earn them the tag of a 'B grade artiste'. But finally, the day before the shooting, we got Himadri. She worked brilliantly," said Khan, who comes from Fakirganj in Dhubri, Assam.
What was his inspiration to join the film industry? "I grew up watching Assamese, Bengali and Bollywood films. I used to wonder how the Bollywood heroes did actions scenes and all. As an audience, I felt more connected to Bollywood. So, I can say that Bollywood was my inspiration to join the filmmaking industry," he said.
He even got an offer to work as an editor for superstar Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment in Mumbai. "I did not work there, but I was made an offer by the company during my filmmaking course in Mumbai. But I never wanted to work as an editor, so refusing the proposal was heart-breaking for me as I'm sure there is no one who doesn't want to work with or under SRK's management," he said.
Instead of moving back to Assam, didn't he wish to stay in Mumbai and work as an independent filmmaker? "No, I never wished to stay there and work because I was there in Mumbai to learn filmmaking. Coming back to Assam and applying here what I learned in Mumbai was part of my plan," said the "Sand -- The Love Without Trust" director.