Looking for Ganga!
Actors Sharman Joshi and Aishwarya Devan along with writer-producer Manish Kishore visited the Sakal Times office to talk about their film Kaashi in search of Ganga, which releases today.
The search operation for a missing person is a tried and tested formula for an interesting plot. But despite being based on similar lines, Dhiraj Kumar’s Kaashi in Search of Ganga promises to surprise you. The film stars Sharman Joshi and Aishwarya Devan, who is making her Bollywood debut after working in a couple of South Indian films. Along with writer-producer Manish Kishore, they recently visited the Sakal Times office to talk about their search for Ganga.
The words ‘Kaashi’ and ‘Ganga’ bring to mind the holy city and the holy river. What is the significance of the title?
Manish: The protagonist Kaashi belongs to the Domba community — the people who cremate dead bodies after the last rites. In the social structure of our country, this community is not respected. I needed my hero to look strong and powerful on screen, so the film is set in Varanasi where the Domba community is treated relatively better than in the rest of the country. Since the movie is based in Varanasi, we named the protagonist Kaashi who is looking for his missing sister Ganga.
We all know that the Ganga river can never be separated from the city of Kashi, and this metaphor applies to the brother-sister duo as well. The film is all about how he searches for her.
We’ve seen a lot of movies based on the brother-sister bonding, what sets your story apart?
Manish: There are very few movies in which the hero belongs to a lower caste, like the Domba community. Though his profession is to cremate dead bodies, we have shot the film in a way to avoid disturbing visuals. There is a lot of difference when it comes to the plot and characters. And the most important part is that Sharman Joshi will be seen in a completely new avatar.
The trailer has received a good response from the audience. What was the feedback from your family and friends?
Sharman: The trailer intrigued all of them. When I shared the title with my parents and friends, they were sure that it was an art film. But when they saw the trailer, their perception changed and they were so sure that it was a full-fledged commercial film which focuses on a sensitive topic. The plot is layered and as the movie goes ahead, one by one the layers unfold. It is definitely a story of a brother in search of his sister, but that’s not the primary focus of the film.
Aishwarya, considering you’ve already done some work in South films, how was the experience of making your debut in Bollywood?
Aishwarya: It’s been a wonderful experience. This film came to me just at the right time, since down south I wasn’t doing exciting projects. The script really intrigued me and the cast is also amazing, so without even thinking twice, I just took it up.
This is just the perfect movie and character for me to start with in Bollywood. I don’t find a lot of difference between the South film industry and Bollywood, apart from the language. Movies made down south are always content-based, and now even Bollywood has been coming up with really good content too.
How did you prepare to play the roles?
Aishwarya: I play the role of a journalist who is Kaashi’s friend and helps him look for his sister. I did not have to go through any specific training or home work since the film does not highlight the career aspect of my character. Whatever guidance my character needed, our writer and director helped me out with it on set.
Sharman: My character needed to speak in the local accent, so I wanted to prepare for it before going on the set. A team member who was from Varanasi helped me with that. I also went to Kashi for a few days before the shoot to get a hang of the community and their lifestyle, but I just observed them from a distance. I saw that they were treated with respect and it seemed pretty normal to me.
You opted for a unique way of promoting the film, how was that experience?
Sharman: When the producer and the marketing team came up with this plan of going out on the streets with flyers in our hands which said ‘Ganga is missing’, we were all very excited about it and hoped it would work. Thankfully it worked out really well.
The idea was to attract eyeballs but we were very sensitive and careful about not wanting to hurt anyone’s sentiments so we had written #Kaashiinsearchofganga at the bottom of the flyers with a phone number which belonged to the production house. We received a lot of calls on the number but someone from the production team was there to respond to the calls and tell them that it was just a promotional event. In fact, the poster idea of the movie also came to us from this event.
What do you have to say about the ongoing #Metoo campaign in India?
Sharman: It’s wonderful the way it has gained momentum now. Women are coming out and talking about the incidents, so it’s a great movement. But for me, the logical conclusion would be that the government comes into play to set up a panel and do whatever it takes. They should listen to all the issues women have and take a quick and grave action against the perpetrators.