Hope ‘Noblemen’ draws parallels to India’s political environment: Director

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Mumbai, May 27 (IANS) “Noblemen”, a thematic representation of William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant Of Venice”, tells the story of bullying in school. But its director Vandana Kataria hopes it is able to make a point about bullying at large — on social media or even in politics.

The film, which made its South Asian premiere at the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival here on Saturday, features actor Kunal Kapoor.

Kataria says the idea for the movie got evolved when her agents told her the Yoodlee Films banner was looking for writers and directors who wanted to adapt world literature in the public domain, into contemporary Indian films.

“I had a few ideas, one of which was Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’. However, my idea was a story set in the world of petty thieves and thugs in the city of Mumbai. While the team at Yoodlee liked this idea, I soon realised that I would want to tell a story in a setting that is more relevant and relatable.

“So, together we decided to make an adaptation set in an all-boys boarding school. As I have studied in a boarding school right through my formative years, I was very familiar with the world, and knew that we could pull off a story set in one school,” she said.

How has she given an entertaining and engaging twist to a serious issue like bullying?

“Whether the film is entertaining and has engaging twists, is for you and the audience to see and judge for yourselves. We used this opportunity to throw light on the issue of bullying in schools, but hope that the film will also draw parallels to bullying at large, from our schools, homes, social media, to our present political environment,” Kataria said.

Why did she choose “The Merchant of Venice”?

“In its times, it was considered Shakespeare’s most controversial play — (a) Because people thought it was anti-Jew, and (b) because it had under tones of homosexuality.

“The themes of oppression, humiliation, and the revenge of the humiliated, were a big draw for me. While reading the text again I realised that perhaps it was the very thought of revenge that drove Shylock to his own downfall at the end of Shakespeare’s play.

“I simply wanted to push these themes to their limit to see what would happen. We know that violence will only beget more violence, but what would happen in a tussle between evil vs good, when you push good to the darkest, loneliest, scariest corner?

“In our story, good does win, but only after it sells its soul to the devil. To me, this is a representation of the drift in society today,” she explained.

“Noblemen” was first screened at the New York India Film Festival, and hopes the screening at the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival gives it a stronger push.

“I hope the film will start some dialogue among people, and I hope it creates word of mouth publicity for us, which in turn comes handy for our commercial release,” she said, adding that it’s vital for her that the movie was showcased at India’s largest LGBTQI festival.

“Noblemen’ is a film about children who are trying to fit in. In fact, it is a film that is trying to fit in, to be seen and heard by as many as possible. To be welcomed at Kashish by the organisers and audiences with bright smiles and open hearts is a huge reward already.”



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