Written and directed by Faraz Arif Ansari, ‘Sisak’ is officially India’s first silent LGBTQ film. The story, conveyed in a brief yet emotional 20 minutes, revolves around two strangers who meet on a train every night. Will this trailer help Ansari reach his dreams in having the film shown at film festivals across India and the globe, especially Cannes? If Cannes can happen, it may be a domino effect and lead to many film festivals.
If it were up to us, we would put it in every festival possible. See the trailer for yourself.
Emotional enough to want to know more? We thought so! We were fortunate enough to catch up with Faraz Arif Ansari to talk about this moving trailer and the film.
We jumped right in with the facts that homosexuality is a crime back in India and with this film, he wanted to open a concrete dialogue about love, equality, and inclusion.
IM: The Title, Sisak. Is it a real word? Ethnic word? Slang?
Ansari: Sisak is an Urdu word which means the silent cry that is stuck inside the chest. It's a cry that is afraid to come out. But it is also a metaphor for the community back home.
IM: In many of our international posts, we see nations using different letters to represent the rainbow community, what is the accepted use in India?
I used LGBTQ to promote the film. People thanked me for not calling it just a gay love story, but referring to it as an LGBTQ love story. India has adopted LGBTQ but is moving toward LGBTQI+.
IM: We read that the actors did not want to play gay characters? Is that true? And how did you get the final actors to follow through? Were there threats against the actors?
I auditioned more than 300 actors. Some of them are known faces from the Indian film and television industry. They all wanted to do a film with me and gladly landed up for the auditions. But when they got to know they have to portray gay men, they backed out. In fact, two actors who agreed to do it, backed out 5 days before my shoot schedule which ended up in 3 months of delay.
However, I kept looking and finally the two actors who essay the characters in my film, agreed to do it because they realised that it could turn out to be a film that'll change things.
Thankfully, no threats have happened as yet. But along with all the wonderful messages that I have been getting from across the world, I also get nasty hate messages for making a gay film.
On a daily basis, I get about 30-50 messages on Facebook itself from closeted people from across India who want to come out just after watching the trailer.
IM: And I see that you did some crowd funding drives for this project? And it looks like you met your desired goal? Are you still accepting donations?
Yes. Still accepting donations for submission costs to film festivals, the cost for getting a Dpi of the film made, for travels to festivals and for private screenings for the LGBTQI community back home. I want to do private screenings of Sisak across India – not just the urban sectors but also the rural, the interior of India which is very homophobic. I want to show them that love, after all is love. The many myths and stereotypes have to be busted and only then will acceptance and love flow through.
Most of the people from interior India who have reached out to me, are craving to watch the film but due to economical and many other reasons they won't be able to travel to festivals that happen in big cities so I want to take the film to them. Sort of a theatre on wheels.
One other thing we did learn about hte film was that it was shot guerrilla-style in Mumbai without permissions from civic authorities.
As part of the film's fundraising page ( https://www.wishberry.in/campaign/sisak/ ), we get to see some behind the scenes footage and meet some of the cast and crew.
We want to thank Ansari for his time and wish him the best with Sisak. We will be watching out for the entire film.
h/t: Facebook & Instagram: @sisak.thefilm
Written & Directed by Faraz Arif Ansari
Starring Jitin Gulati & Dhruv Singhal
Produced by Aparna Sud & Futterwacken Films
Director of Photography: Saurabh Goswami
Sound Design: Pritam Das
Music Director: Dhawal Tandon