Haanduk preview: Exploring the hidden aspects of life in a conflict

The film looks at the lives of family members of those who take a radical step and join an insurgency.

Sukhpreet Kahlon

First-time director Jaicheng Jai Dohutia’s film Haanduk is based on a true incident about a woman and the fate of her son who joined an extremist group.

The news report struck a chord with the filmmaker who was inspired to delve deeper into the subject and examine the fate of people who are left behind when a family member decides to take such a radical step.

The film's title refers to a remote or hidden place, gesturing towards the Moran tribe, a community that lives in a corner of the world. One of the oldest ethnic groups in India, the Morans’ traditional way of life has been depicted on film for the first time as Haanduk portrays the helplessness of Heramoni, the mother of Mukti, who has left home to join an extremist group.

But instead of following the son, the narrative chooses to focus on the endless wait and the fate of the family. Dohutia chose to work with non-artistes who had witnessed the rise of militancy in the land. He also shot at actual locations, lending the film authenticity as the landscape echoes the way of life of the community and is in marked contrast to the violence tearing away the lives of young men.

The film has won several awards, including the National award for Best Feature Film in Regional Languages (Moran), and has been screened at several festivals.

Why you should watch the film

Haanduk depicts latent violence as it explores the effects of insurgency on this community, albeit in a markedly different way. The languid pace of the camera evokes the stillness of life and the passing of time as it personifies the excruciating, endless wait that lies in store for family members awaiting the return of loved ones.

The depiction of the way of life of the Moran community is also a strong comment on the material pursuits entwined within life in the city and the erosion of humanity therein.

Haanduk will be screened at the Kazhcha Indie Film Festival in Thiruvananthapuram on 9 December 2017 at 2pm at the Lenin Balavadi.

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Kazhcha Indie Film Festival