By Nicole Suares
Real-life events inspire filmmakers to bring out gripping tales, often forgotten by mainstream media. An intriguing news report in September 2018 caught the attention of young Goan filmmaker, Ronak Kamat. It struck an idea for a short film, Bare.
The woman-centric thriller won the Best Thriller-Short Film Award at the Indo-French International Film Festival, Chennai, in 2022.
Previously, it won the Best Film Award under the Film on Women category at the 52nd Season of the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival (CICFF). It recently qualified for the Annual Golden Yazhi Awards.
ABOUT THE MOVIE
In an interview, Ronak shares that the challenging subject cinematically encapsulates issues faced by women in our society.
He says, “It is a film about how we are always the first to question the victim, always the first to doubt a survivor. Along with this, it is also a film about the limitless strength of women.”
The news report of an intruder with a voyeuristic fetish, entering homes and watching women sleep, inspired the script. Ronak added his twist to the story.
“Months later, I suddenly had the idea of coupling this man’s story with the story of a woman, who experiences this, and nobody believes her. When ‘Me Too’ happened, it surprised me to see how many people first questioned the victim. Instead of saying 'it’s terrible what she went through', people said 'Why is she saying this now? What does she want now?' That really troubled me. At that point, I wrote the script.”
The film recounts the experiences of a young, divorced woman, Lisa, who faces a similar intruder in her bedroom. “The audience is constantly wrestling with the question of whether he exists or is a product of her imagination. As the film moves further, his actual existence attempts to send a message about how no matter how a victim’s account sounds, we always have to believe them,” he says.
His team included a young cast and crew with DOP, Yash Sawant and Ashley Fernandes, who created the right ambiance with his music. Suvidha Torgal Bakhle portrays Lisa, Keatan Jadhav is the Man, Siddhi Upadhye plays Pratha, Vardhan Kamat plays Sanket, and Urvi Ranade as Saloni.
Ronak, who’s based in Mumbai, balanced a script-writing project in the big city and the shoot for this film in Goa. He says, “I made trips down twice a month to have meetings and get things started. Ninety percent of the film is shot in the interiors. These were apartments that we had to recce thoroughly, take pictures and then visualize around.”
But, finding the answer to ‘how to make a film that people can watch and feel that they have watched an actual thriller?’ was a challenge. It meant working hard on the visuals, music and the edit. “We took really long to light up these locations and do all sorts of other things to bring out a feeling of fear and grit in the visuals. It also meant directing the actors in a manner that keeps a certain pace and rhythm,” he explains.
And, it’s such unconventional topics that inspire him to write. He elaborates, “I am drawn to subjects that are moving and hopefully heavy with some kind of message that isn’t in your face. I don’t like movies that rub something in constantly. I feel that adversely affects the message. When you wrap the message around something cinematic, it subliminally affects the viewer, moves them and makes them think.”
BITTEN BY THE FILM BUG
Ronak’s journey into film began in 2011, at the age of 17, on an environmental issue. “At that time, the film was just a medium to send a message through. But as years went by, I realized it drove me to tell stories, move people, and probably even disturb them to send a message. A film is a great tool.”
In the past, he’s made films like Caazu (2015), Scars (2017), and I am Nothing on Vamona Navelcar.
Ronak shares his passion for filmmaking with his father, Gurudas Kamat. At 10, he accompanied him to the Western Ghats on his father’s documentary shoot Flowing with Mhadei.
He recalls, “I shot on my mini camera, only for myself. Those days, our cameras had tapes in them. I remember converting those files to digital, watching what I had shot, and really learning the consequences of what I did! That’s when I was genuinely excited by the magic of visual storytelling.”