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Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani? brings a disturbing look at the psyche of a perpetrator

The first film from writer-director Jiju Antony tries to humanize a man accused of rape and murder.

Sonal Pandya

Frustrated taxi driver Prashant gives in to his demons and murders a couple he is ferrying at night after raping the young woman. Writer-director Jiju Antony's debut film is an attempt to peel back the layers of a perpetrator to find out why someone can turn to crime.

The crowdfunded feature film borrows its title from the book of Matthew 27:46 which states, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Told in reverse order, Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani? goes back in time to explore the startling bad decisions and situations that occur in the life of the young man, Prashant.

The film is stylishly shot in black and white, with guerrilla techniques, and is largely set in Mumbai. Actor Sanal Aman, a National School of Drama graduate, transforms himself as the antisocial, unstable Prashant. Four different actors play Prashant at different stages of his life.

Actress Rajshri Deshpande too has a small but key role as a prostitute who is harmed by Prashant.

Antony sets the backwards narrative in 11 sequences meant to explain why Prashant has become a murderer. The sequences in young Prashant’s life show that possibly the odds were already stacked against him. With a troubled family, the stifling confines of religion, and the bad influence of others leading to a life of abuse and crime, maybe Prashant never stood a chance.

Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani? poses a question not only to the maker, but also to audiences: how can someone fall so low in life?

Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani? is scheduled to be screened at the Habitat Film Festival in New Delhi's India Habitat Centre on Monday 21 May 2018 at 8:30 pm.

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Habitat Film Festival