When one talks about independent film-making in India the first name that comes to mind is the director, screenwriter, and producer Onir. In 2005, Onir shot to fame with a gem of a film called My Brother... Nikhil whose critical success inspired many other filmmakers to take the indie route. Over the next few years, Onir continued to experiment with films such as Bas Ek Pal and Sorry Bhai! before finally making the highly acclaimed I Am in the year 2011, which won him the prestigious National Award. When Onir realized that getting the funding for I Am wasn't going to be easy he chose to explore the crowd funding channel, once again showing others the way.
Onir's films have always touched upon debates surrounding sexuality in a most sensitive manner. While 'My Brother... Nikhil' focuses on the issue of hardship and humiliation faced by AIDS patients, 'Bas Ek Pal' deals with the complexity of human relationships.
Onir is the only openly gay filmmaker in the industry. His films have always touched upon debates surrounding sexuality in a most sensitive manner. While My Brother... Nikhil focuses on the issue of hardship and humiliation faced by AIDS patients, Bas Ek Pal deals with the complexity of human relationships. I Am, on the other hand, is a collection of four short stories exploring themes as diverse as motherhood, homosexuality, and child abuse. In Onir's own words, "I Am explores identities at various levels. It's also about my identity as a filmmaker. It is the first film in South Asia which has been made through social networking, crowd funding and crowd sourcing."
Over the years, Onir's films have traveled across the globe, winning prestigious awards at River to River Film Festival (Florence), Milan International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, London Asian Film Festival, Montreal (Image+ Nation film festival), and the International Film Festival of Kerala. Onir's production banner, Anticlock Films, which was started by him and the actor Sanjay Suri, is committed to promoting young talent such as Bikas Ranjan Mishra. Mishra's award-winning directorial debut Chauranga was funded by Onir and Suri.
Starring Raveena Tandon, Ashish Bisht, and Arpita Chatterjee, 'Shab' comes across as a modern tale of romance involving four individuals, high on passion, brought together by destiny.
After a 6-year hiatus (not counting the 2016 documentary Raising the Bar), Onir is finally coming out with a new offering titled Shab, starring Raveena Tandon, Ashish Bisht, and Arpita Chatterjee. The film's trailer was recently released and by the looks of it, Shab comes across as a modern tale of romance involving four individuals, high on passion, brought together by destiny as they are forced to choose between their love and ambition. The film has been shot by Sachin K. Krishn and is based on a screenplay by Merle Kroger and Onir. Shab is slated to release on 30 June.
A version of this article was first published in A Potpourri of Vestiges.