The Door talks about a couple that is trapped in a marriage forced on them by meddling parents. There is however, a twist — the man, Dev, is a closeted gay and his reluctance to own up to his sexuality puts a toll on his wife Radhika, a smart, educated and independent girl who had no idea what she was getting into with the marriage. How the two of them traverse through this maze is what The Door is all about.
The Door came into being because the writers, Meghana and Gaurav, drew from personal experiences. “We had been looking to create something that could become our body of work but would be impactful,” Meghana says. “That’s when I began writing down a few ideas and this one struck a chord between us.”
As Meghana and Gaurav developed the concept they realised that they had witnessed, “similar cases of our own friends struggling to break free. So that’s when we decided to make this into a short film, because the boom in the digital medium has opened so many opportunities and platforms for people to showcase talent. And its reach is far and wide. Our film speaks to the youth, and just about every young person is on the internet. So we knew our content would reach the right people.”
It is not easy to make a short film on limited funds. But Meghana says that it has been a learning experience for the entire team. “It has been a patient journey of trying to get likeminded people on board and create something impactful with the limited resources that we had. It wasn’t easy but has been truly fun!”
The Door is currently crowdfunding on Wishberry and has to meet a target of Rs. 5 Lakhs. Directed by Gaurav C. Bhat and starring Meghana Kaushik and Kashyap Shangari, The Door generated quite the buzz with the launch of its trailer, with many hailing the film as being a positive step forward in talking about equal rights for all.
The cast of the film is an interesting mix as well. It boasts of established names such as Zarina Wahab and Shishir Sharma, as well as relatively unknown names such as Kashyap’s. “We reached out to a lot of known faces initially but so many actors still have inhibitions when it comes to playing the character of a homosexual man. Then Kashyap came along. It was such a boon as not only was he willing to invest time in the film, but he also brainstormed with us to take this film forward once it was complete — He became family,” director Bhat says.
What is heartening to notice is the spirit of making something meaningful that brought everyone on this indie short together. “A lot of other cast and crew was calling in favours as short films really have no money. But, locations were the toughest to get so we had to cheat a lot. It was tough and we were so fortunate that we had friends who believe in us. And never did they add to the pressure.”
Despite support from friends and family, The Door had to turn to crowdfunding. According to Meghana, they decided to take the plunge, because they wanted what was best for the film. “Right from the start, Gaurav (the director) was clear that he wanted it (the film) to look nothing less than a feature film. So, we actually invested a lot of time in prep. We kept a comfy budget for it too. We did rehearsals, we got proper hair and makeup, no compromise on the equipment used, etc. But then, we reshot some portions that we weren’t too happy with, editing proved to be more expensive than we had assumed, sound design, music, etc., added the last straw to the camel’s back. Eventually, we went over budget. Which is when we turned to Wishberry to help us raise funds to finish the project.”
Crowdfunding for films in India is still a relatively new concept. Not many indie filmmakers turn to crowdfunding because they don’t understand the concept well. The Door is an exception to this rule and it has served them well. Their campaign has already met 60% of its target.
Meghana believes that crowdfunding is definitely a plausible way to raise funds for a film. “Crowdfunding was suggested to us by a friend who had done it for a film. And Wishberry definitely has a strong reputation in the market and are known to have funded some out-of-the-box projects. The campaign is an exciting phase but also a lot of work. We each have to contribute time and effort to add to its success. It does get our creative juices flowing, along with the team at Wishberry. We have been able to also connect with so many more people and it truly has opened more windows and doors for us. Of course, the challenge is to reach the target amount as it’s an all or nothing campaign. We have to work harder to reach the finish line. We can’t slack.”
The makers of The Door have big plans for the film, once they complete it. They want to showcase their film at film festivals around the world. Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, Edinburgh, San Francisco and some LGBTQ-specific film festivals are on their list. However, they also want their film to “reach every corner of the country”. It is so because, they believe that The Door has the capacity to start a positive conversation. “Something as intrinsic as right to privacy and freedom has still to be completely accepted. In the process of making the film we came across so many people who would talk big at a coffee-table discussion about supporting a homosexual person’s rights, but when it comes to taking a stand in the society and come forward, they back out.”
Meghana and her team firmly believe in the fact that cinema has the power to mould our society’s outlook when it comes to sexual orientation and sexual freedom for every individual. “I feel cinema could be a big influencer. Today, we have so much data flooded into our brains unconsciously. So, if there is impactful content out there that looks good as well, it might take some time, but it will definitely resonate with people and bring about a small change — consciously or unconsciously. And that is our aim with the film.”
You can contribute to The Door’s crowdfunding campaign here.