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Mansi Khandelwal

IWB Blogger

After ‘Kajal’ Was Premiered In New York, We Chai-Chatted With The Team Behind The Film

  • IWB Post
  •  December 24, 2017


UPDATE: The film has been nominated for the prestigious Jio Filmfare Short Film Awards 2018. The crew needs your support and vote to win. Please vote here.

“What happens to a woman who is constantly bullied by her boss, harassed by strangers and abused by her husband?

Her life changes after she finds an abandoned package one night!

This package holds an answer to all her demons. It triggers an internal change in her the moment she lays her eyes on it.”

Doesn’t it intrigue you to know what happens next?

Well, this is the story of the directorial debut short film by Paakhi A. Tyrewala. Capturing the life of an ordinary woman in a world claimed by men, Paakhi’s Kajal is a 20-minute short film that was selected for the New York Indian Film Festival.

Producers of Kajal invite cinema buffs to support them in their project and spread the message of women empowerment. Curious us couldn’t wait to delve deeper into the story and thus caught up with Sonali Shekhawat, Siddharth Jain (Producers) and Snigdha Bihan, the co-presenter of the film.

What made you come on board with the film?

Sonali: 80 percent of the team of the film is from Jaipur. Starting from the producers to the co-presenter and few other team members, we are all from the Pink city. After hearing about the film, I was keen to come on board because the director is a great friend and mentor to me and also because I belong to Jaipur. I felt it was important for the people living here to know what some of us are doing in the entertainment industry.

Snigdha: I always try to explore new opportunities apart from what I am doing in my daily routine. New things and avenues always attract me. Sonali came up with an offer seeking an investor. One night, Kajal and I were sitting and she narrated the story to me. Since I knew the team from Stone Age, I jumped in.

Short film

Sonali (continues): The film is about a woman who is finding her inner strength with a metaphor attached to it, and Kajal is that metaphor. That one stroke of the black line makes you not only look stronger but also makes you feel confident inside.

Totally agreeing with what Sonali said, I told her how right before I came to meet her, I had put on my kajal. And that black stroke made me look so much brighter.

Who does the actress play in the film? Tell us more about the character?

Sonali: She is very shy, she is shaky, hardly has confidence, is scared all the time, until one evening she finds that one thing that rebuilds her confidence in life – and the very next day she is a changed person. It sheds light on the life of a woman living in a man’s world, and how she survives.

It also reflects how sometimes we get addicted to negativities, societal obligations and crushing our desires to the extent that we forget our existence.

So what is the message of the movie?

Short film

Snigdha: After our first screening in Mumbai, Mr. Vishal Bharadwaj said, “All movies are not supposed to deliver a message. Some are a mirror to the society, and you need to acknowledge it. Only when you address the issue, we can solve the issue.”

What is the most empowering scene in the film?

Sonali: I don’t know if I can pick the most empowering scene, but the most important thought put forth in the 20-minute film is, until you stand for yourself, nobody will. Ek kadam aap bhadao, 99 bhagwan bhadayenge.

What struggles is the woman in the film fighting?

Sonali: Though she is fighting the most ordinary gestures, they are the ones that strongly shape a woman’s life too. The struggles involve not giving a woman the complete freedom to talk or become who she wants to be. Not providing her with space wherein she can breathe freely, without the fear of being judged…

A realization of what your capabilities are and deep understanding of your own self is very important.

How was your experience producing a short film?

Short film

Sonali: Making a short film is a task! However, it is true that short films are a real jugaad, too! So it’s like almost all the people, apart from the technicians, we weren’t able to afford. But what is beautiful and really worked for us is how everyone came forward and helped because all of them believed in Kajal.

After a while, Siddharth, also the producer of Kajal, joined us. While he settled, I struck the conversation by asking his views on the film. 

Short film

Siddharth: Kajal helps the protagonist of the film to find her inner strength. Through an external factor, she finds her internal power.

And what is that external factor?

Siddharth: It is something that can empower anybody. If it is given to you, it can empower you, as well.


How does your learning from producing short films help you prepare for bigger budget films?

Short film

Sonali: The risks involved in making a short film are what brings the maximum learning. So when a short film doesn’t do well, it is not that big a deal because the losses are less. However, what is important here is that the learning is way more as compared to a big budget film.

Talking about the film’s festival fame, Siddharth said, “Our first world premiere was in New York at the New York Indian Film Festival. We are also selected by the Feedback Female Film Festival, Pune International Film Festival, and Dada Saheb Phalke.”

The trio plans to screen the film in Pune and Jaipur soon.

Watch the trailer below:

This article was first published on June 14, 2017.

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