What the ongoing IFFK 2019 offers this year for film buffs

IFFK 2019: 'Aani Maani', a film about love with political connotations

He calls it a film about love, with a political connotation. Fahim Irshad is elated about the response to his film ‘Aani Maani’ at the ongoing International Film Festival of Kerala.

“The audience has been lovely. There are long queues to watch the film,” he told the The Hindu after a screening of the film.

‘Aani Maani’ is Fahim’s first feature film. It takes its name from a game played by small children in Uttar Pradesh in which they turn in circles while reciting the rhyme Aani Maani. The film tells the story of a kebab seller who struggles to fend for his family. A beef ban sends his world into a tailspin.

With consumption of beef and the ban on it becoming a contentious issue, Fahim says the issue had to be raised in the film. “If I don’t raise it, who will? It disturbs me and my community. I feel for them. But we can't take up weapons. The fightback has to be through films. That is why I was able to make Aani Maani.”

Bhutto, the kebab seller, talks in the film about how the beef ban would undo all his efforts to finally get his life on track, but the film does not try to give it a communal angle. “The Indian middle class, wherever it is, has the same questions and aspirations. Of late, the entire Muslim community has been vilified. I wanted to show that Muslims live in the same neighbourhood as others, share the same dreams and trials and tribulations. I wanted to make a statement that it’s a story of love and persecution.”

Fahim who has done his Master’s in Mass Communication and Films from Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi, shot the film in March-April last year in Sambhal, near Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, where his producer and lead actor Farrukh Seyer hails from.

“Farrukh is a local boy, so there was lots of support from the people of Sambhal after we explained to them what the film was about.”

No prior permission was taken from the administration. Most of the shooting was done indoors, and wherever required, permission was taken from the local people for the outdoor shoots.

“Had we taken permission from the administration, there was a chance the shoot could have run into problems. So, we decided to shoot first, and take things as they come.”

Fahim, Farrukh, lead actress Priyanka Verma, and director of photography Shailendra Sahu who had earlier worked on Fahim’s short film ‘Mubadla’ (Exchange) approached many producers but in vain. Even after the first cut, there was no money for post-production. Even the possibilities through streaming on Netflix and other OTT platforms did not get them funds. Eventually, Farrukh borrowed money from his father and the film got made. The cast comprised friends and local people from New Delhi and Sambhal.

The film was screened at the MAMI film festival and has been sent to the Berlin festival too. Besides a buzz in festivals, they plan to screen the film in universities and colleges from January.

Fahim who came to Mumbai in 2014 to write the dialogues for a film did TV shows for Epic channel, but his scripts did not find any producers. “No one was interested in producing film scripts because they dealt with socio-political issues.”

Working on the third season of the hit web series Mirzapur, he has finished working on a script and is working on another.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 9:48:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/aani-maani-a-film-about-love-with-political-connotations/article30280771.ece

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