National Award Winner Finds Few Distributors

By Arpana

New Delhi, Jan 30 (IANS) Her directorial debut "Land Gold Women" deals with the burning issue of honour killings and has just won a National Award, but 29-year-old Avantika Hari is finding it difficult to distribute the Britain-based drama for commercial release.

"The film was premiered at IFFI (International Film Festival of India) and we had a couple of private screenings. We haven't had a commercial release yet. I'm having difficulty in distributing the film," Avantika, who grew up in Dubai, told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

"It doesn't have big names or songs; so it's difficult to release the film. My film has won the National Award; so it surely has some calibre. We are hoping the award will open new doors for the film."

She feels issue-based movies should be shown to bigger audiences to create awareness.

"I feel these kinds of films should be made and should be shown to bigger audiences. And there should be innovative ways to market small-budget films. When I made the film, everybody was scared. They thought the film would not get visibility. But I feel that if you make films with the right message and right intention, it will create awareness."

Shot on location in Birmingham, the 98-minute film in English narrates the story of a British Asian family caught between Eastern tradition and Western culture. The highlight of the film is the father-daughter relationship and how the equation changes when the daughter takes hold of her life.

Born in India and raised in Dubai, Avantika, 29, did her masters from the London Film School and while studying she read an article that inspired her to make "Land Gold Women".

"I decided to make the film after reading an article in a newspaper in London. It said that honour killings happen in the immigrant community. I was shocked that such things happen even now because I lived in Dubai and never heard of such incidents there.

"I researched for two years and it took me about a year to finish the script because while I was writing, I was meeting a lot of people.

"We shot the film in 24 days in Birmingham. We had amazing support, especially from women. They said they were happy that finally a film on the issue was being made.

"Yes, we had a screening in Birmingham. We had tied up with an NGO called Ashram Housing Association (it deals with women who are victims of forced marriages) and because of the ashram I got to speak to a lot of victims," she said.

"Some people say that Islam or Hinduism allows it but the fact is that it is happening across the world. It happens in countries like Brazil, Germany and Turkey and it has no religious connection."

"It's more about power, and religion is used as an excuse. It's primitive."

Now Avantika, who tied the knot with the film's producer Vivek Agrawal, plans to make a Hindi film.

"My next will be a Hindi film. It won't be a formula film. It has got love, action, etc. But it will be a socially relevant film. Yes, I want to work with known actors," said Avantika who is a big fan of directors like Vishal Bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap, Mani Ratnam and Rajkumar Hirani.


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