A new movie from Mritunjay Devvrat highlights genocide and a part of South Asian history that remains unchronicled
Mritunjay Devvrat, 29, the director of The Bastard Child, had no plans of being part of the film industry. Then, one day, while watching a movie, he realised the sheer magnificence of filmmaking and decided to go to film school. “My parents were designers from NID and I was also slowly dragged into the field. But I wanted something more exciting and movies is motion pictures, which made a lot of sense,” he begins. He has made around 13 documentaries and has worked on product designing, commercial ad films and with NGOs. Having spent over eight months on The Bastard Child, he takes us behind the scenes:
The movie covers the 1970 genocide that took place in Bangladesh. It covers issues like women in concentration camps, how they were raped and killed. When there is a war, there are war children as well and they are never accepted in society. I think the subject did not get due recognition and this movie will be a small dedication to all those war victims. I spent a part of my childhood in Bangladesh and took my first steps there. That is why it means so much to me.
My wife and I first started research on the movie. We spoke to a lot of refugees, people from the Indian Army and a lot of families whose ancestors were part of the war. Then we read published and unpublished material.
We don’t want bastard to be a gaali. We met people who call themselves ‘bastard’ and it is not meant in an offensive manner. The word means so much to them. Even if three people watch the movie and decide to stop treating the word as abuse, my job is done.
I do not have any genre specifications, but I always need a strong subject. The movie has to be a visual retreat but it could be a comedy, action or anything. I will love to do a thriller but the movie should give out a strong message and should be for the betterment of the society. With The Bastard Child, I did not have to convince any of my actors since they agreed instantaneously.
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When Devvrat approached me, I did not know much about the issue. I play a girl in a concentration camp, who is raped by Pakistani soldiers. Besides The Bastard Child, I have two other movies, No Rules for Fools,with Vinay Pathak, and a romantic thriller with Randeep Hooda.
The Bengali film industry has very good directors. Commercial actors are suddenly doing art films. Unlike Hindi films, more prominence is given to women. But I want to concentrate on Hindi films now. In the last two years I did 10 Bengali films. As for the South, I think they are very professional. I have acted in a Telugu and Malay-alam film so far.
Somehow, I always get the role of a Bengali girl. Even in the movie with Pathak, I am playing a prostitute. One gets typecast easily. Right now, I am not competing with Kareena, Katrina or Priyanka. There is so much competition that you don’t have a choice but to do different roles. You either take the usual route or a different one.
The Bastard Child is scheduled to release today.
— Mrinalini Sundar