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Adh Chanani Raat explores structure and means of violence, says Gurvinder Singh

The Punjabi-language feature is among the ten films from India that will be screened at the 52nd International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Our Correspondent

Gurvinder Singh’s Punjabi-language feature Adh Chanani Raat (Crescent Night) will have its world premiere at the 52nd International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR). The event is being held from 26 January to 6 February virtually, given the concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID across Europe. 

Ten films from India are part of the IFFR this year, including Rahat Mahajan’s Meghdoot (The Cloud Messenger) and Rajeev Ravi’s Malayalam feature Thuramukham (The Harbour), which will be showcased in the Tiger Competition and Big Screen Competition sections respectively.

Adh Chanani Raat is the third instalment in Gurvinder Singh’s trilogy of Punjabi-language films that have been adapted from literary works of noted Punjabi authors after Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan (2011) and Chauthi Koot (2015). Adh Chanani Raat is inspired by Gurdial Singh’s eponymous novel.

The film has been produced by Bobby Bedi, Vipul D Shah, Manmohan Shetty and Rajesh Bahl and features an ensemble cast that includes Samuel John and Raj Singh Jhinger, also marking the acting debuts of Jatinder Mauhar and Mauli Singh. 

The synopsis of the film reads, "Modan returns home after spending some years of the prime of his life in prison for a murder committed to avenge his father’s humiliation over land disputes. Acrimony with his brothers who have prospered in his absence forces Modan to rebuild his life with his mother by shifting to the dilapidated ancestral home and by bringing home a wife who’s already a mother to an infant. In spite of Modan’s honest attempts to forget the insults of the past, suppressed anger manifests itself in renewed violence."

The film’s trailer examines the predicament of its central character where he is pushed by societal expectations of masculinity to exert himself and make his presence felt. Set in a village, with an evocative background score, we see glimpses of Modan's transformation. Violence underpins the trailer and we see Modan severing ties with his family and dear ones in his pursuit of violence. 

In his director’s statement, Gurvinder Singh said, “The question always hangs before a filmmaker: what next after a film? And more importantly, why? Having made two films in the Punjabi language and set in Punjab, both different from the other, one dealing with the angst, alienation and exploitation of the underprivileged lower classes in Punjab; and the other dealing with the violence and fear unleashed in the region during the conflict for greater autonomy for the Sikhs in the 1980s, both by the state and the extra-constitutional actors; the underpinning has been the individual and the family offset against a larger socio-political cauldron which is in ferment. The private set against the public, the individual vis-à-vis the state and its institutions, especially the law maintaining machinery; the power wielded by the state and its various manifestations. How violence, both visible and invisible, invades homes and has the ability to create tensions and upheavals in individual lives, even though they are not agents of the same."

Stating that Adh Chanani Raat explores the structure and means of violence and its implications on the individual and the family, the filmmaker said that the story does not have visible villainous characters. "They are omnipresent. They don’t come face to face, but haunt the protagonist, to the extent that his entire being is driven by their invisible presence. It symbolizes the invisible character of the structurally violent establishment. When the decadent structure is resisted violently, the resistor has to face consequences, the way Modan does. The Crescent Night aims an intimate and close look at all of the above besides gender equations in a — by and large — patriarchal society,” he said.

The film will screen as part of the Harbour section, which showcases a range of contemporary cinema championed by the festival.

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