Lest we forget
By Vijaya Pushkarna
“My name is Adhira Goswami”
“My husband’s name is Gaurav…. Mazumdar”
“My daughter’s name is ….” And she pauses, thinks, runs to the daughter’s room, flips the pages of dozens of books there, looks here and there.
“I remember” made by Geetha Sahai in mid 2018 is an intense hour long drama film in a happy mix of English and Hindi .The film is going to be shown at the 11th Annual Women’s History Month Festival, New Jersey, USA, on March 31. The festival celebrates women in film, music and art , and is on from Mar 25 to April 16. A variety of films of different genres from all over the world are slated to be screened.
Geetha, who is co-director of her production house Heart and Soul Media Pvt Ltd, is delighted, but it is not the first time that she and “I Remember” are seeing laurels. What has always brought her joy is the appreciation of a subject close to her heart by viewers, and the message that they take home.
The film is about early onset of Alzheimer’s. The story of Adhira, Gaurav and Shivani is powerfully directed and enacted, keeping the story tightly in context, and not giving in to theatrics or elements of entertainment that a similar subject would possibly have in a mainstream Bollywood film. Geetha’s craft as a film maker however matches the best in the industry.
“ It’s a great opportunity (to show the film at the Women’s History Month Festival)because the audience is different, and also because it is a celebration of women directors and women film makers. To have a film screened in that high and esteemed platform , I am extremely delighted, honoured and humbled ”,says she.
It also appears to have been a pleasant surprise for Geetha, ahead of International Women’s Day.
The festival organisers approached her, because they knew about the film that had already been screened and awarded at Las Vegas. And she was asked to submit it . “I am looking forward to it, and I think the audience will be great, as well they will churn out in large numbers . It is a ticketed thing, so I am grateful to them for including my film” elaborates the film maker, who has a 30-year long career in journalism, across print, radio, television and films.
Her training was primarily in print and radio, but with her “visual eye” from childhood, she was making short ad films even before becoming a full-fledged film maker. She has done everything from script writing to voice over and even independently stood in at the shoot of such films, early in her career.
According to Geetha, creativity begins where reporting stops, and it is all about showing people what they generally do not see. The germ for “I remember” was when she saw people ignore or laugh at people who forgot small and not so small things. As a creative person, she believes that there is life beyond that forgetful moment, and her story begins there and then.
“It is not about forgetting, it is a neurological disorder, that puts a lot of strain on the patient, and no less on the caregivers” says Geetha, who has gone beyond writing , directing and producing the film. She raised a campaign for intellectual disability and Alzheimer’s through Swayam Foundation of which she is the founder-president.
“ The screening at the Festival will take my message to a much larger audience, the whole concept of making this film was that the message should reach the unreachable, and it should create awareness.”, says Geetha, but does not believe that one film is enough to create awareness. But according to her, it does initiate dialogue and once a dialogue is initiated, then people do notice the ailment, notice the cause the film has taken up. So it does someway act as a springboard for larger discussions.
“I Remember” is available on Amazon Prime UK and USA, through Pocket Films, her aggregator and distributor for the digital platform.“But since it is not released in Amazon Prime India, I think it was not accepted here “ says the director-producer.
Geetha sent the film through the film festivals circuit where it gathered a clutch of awards, and was hoping for the film’s digital release in India. But in star struck India where even web series peck on Bollywood star cast, that has yet to happen.
Meanwhile Geetha has begun work on her next film -- a psychological drama.
NO TRIVIA THIS...
- Alzheimer’s in India is a hidden problem.
- Only a tiny fraction of patients are formally diagnosed or treated.
- Most Indians still consider memory loss as an inevitable part of ageing or consider that the person has gone crazy and do not want to treat the patient at home.
- There’s huge stigma and ignorance surrounding Alzheimer’s.
- More than 4 million people are estimated to be suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, giving the country the third highest caseload in the world, after China and the US.
- India’s dementia and Alzheimer’s burden is forecast to reach almost 7.5 million by the end of 2030.
- And these patients have nowhere to go.
I Remember , the film