Art imitates life and this appears to be the case with cinema as films with female protagonists seem to have attained relevance, says Love Sonia producer David Womark.
The #MeToo movement is on the cusp of completing its first anniversary and the filmmaker calls the upswing "rewarding". "Filmmaking reflects society whenever there is big change. If you go to the '70s at the time of Vietnam War, the American filmmaking revolution (with) hippies smoking pot, liberation, freedom of thought and now were going through another big transformation.
"I saw NH-10 and I enjoyed it. So there is an action picture with a women kicking some bu**, which is fun to see because it's a variety and it's commercial. But I think it's also uplifting to see that all of a sudden a genre where you're seeing the world through the eyes of the female protagonist. It is relevant, effective and rewarding," said Womark.
Directed by Tabrez Noorani, Love Sonia, inspired by true events, is the shocking story of a young Indian village girl who gets entrapped in the global sex trade while trying to save her sister. Debutante Mrunal Thakur is in the title role, with another newcomer, Riya Sisodiya, as her sister.
Womark, who co-produced Life of Pi with director Ang Lee and Gil Netter, says sexual slavery, among other social malaises, emerges from the lack of gender balance in the society.
"... Today, we have #MeToo for sexual harassment. What we're seeing now throughout the world is an attempt at gender rebalance. So in a strange way, I think when you tell a story about a movie, you focus first on the characters and their journey.”
"What I think is going to make the movie topical is the fact that this started happening within the last year. With these hashtags, I think we are moving forward and are part of the wave. I think this will help people have more than an open mind in this perspective."
Point out the director is male and women-fronted films with men as helmers have often been criticised for their "gaze", Womark says both he and Noorani have grown up with 'female influence". "I grew up with three sisters. Tabrez grew up with a sister. I think when you grow up around women that helps.
"But I also I think the story again in itself is about a sister saving another sister so you have got to get in as a director, an actor or a writer. You've got to come from that perspective so that it's already there in the story." The filmmaker believes the audience does not take notice if the film addresses a male, female, social or political issue.
"You simply watch the story unfold through the eyes of the character. It is only later when you leave the cinema, you start thinking about the other aspects," he says.
Fronted by newcomers, the film is backed by an inclusive supporting cast- Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao, Adil Hussain, Sai Tamhankar, Richa Chadha, Anupam Kher, Freida Pinto and Demi Moore, among others.
“When you cast a film, you don't think business first, especially for a small film. That's the fun part, taking the risk. As for Mrunal, people who have seen the film are wondering 'Who is this young lady?' Like it happened with Suraj Sharma in Life of Pi. I think audiences like discovering new talent."
Love Sonia released on Friday.