Article Punjabi

Taala Te Kunjee preview: Brutally honest look at how addiction affects survivors, families


This direct and emotional documentary, written and directed by National Award-winning filmmaker Shilpi Gulati, takes us behind addiction, addicts and their families.

Sonal Pandya

Shilpi Gulati’s moving documentary, Taala Te Kunjee (Lock And Key) follows the journey of former drug addicts and alcoholics from Amritsar, Punjab, as they reflect on their former lives with candour and openness. The feature film connects with survivors across generations, from 63-year-old Tejinder Walia to 31-year-old Gurpratap Singh a.k.a. GPS.

The men, who are working hard at their sobriety, lay bare past wounds and revisit their sins as addicts. Their loving and supportive family members are also interviewed as they talk about the healing process.

Walia, who went through 27 years of alcohol abuse, and his wife Satpal Kaur are now doting grandparents, while Singh marries his fiancée, Rishma Nagpal, in the film.

The former addicts and their families all gather often at Hermitage Family Rehab Home, where they are helped by Dr JPS Bhatia, to speak and counsel other families going through similar situations. There are some heartbreaking confessions from the addicts and the families and they emphasize the power of meetings and sharing to get them through their problems.

In Indian society, where display of emotions is frowned upon and often suppressed, the documentary’s subjects and their stories of redemption are extremely hopeful.

The film’s title, Taala Te Kunjee, is derived from a beautiful metaphor about a lock and key used to describe the state of an addict. The strong, brave men and their families from the state of Punjab, which has always had a troubled history, have admitted their addictions and rebuilt their lives in a manner that is uplifting and meaningful.

Taala Te Kunjee will be screened at the 6th Woodpecker International Film Festival on 23 November at Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi.

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Woodpecker International Film Festival