Director Gajendra Ahire’s The Silence – a powerful drama won laurels at several international festivals is now set for a theatrical release on October 6th 2017, featuring Nagraj Manjule, Anjali Patil, Kadambari Kadam, Mugdha Chaphekar, Vedashree Mahajan and Raghubir Yadav  in pivotal roles. The Silence is a Marathi film with English subtitles and has also been made in Hindi.

The Silence’s list of awards include the Best Child Actor award (for Vedashree Mahajan) at the 16th New York Indian Film Festival, The German Star Of India (for Gajendra Ahire) at Indian Film Festival of Stuttgart 2015, Best Screenplay and Best Debut Actress Award (For Anjali Patil) at the Karrm Filmfare Marathi Awards 2016 and Best Child Actress (Vedashree Mahajan) and Best Debut Actress Award (For Anjali Patil) at the Maharashtra State Awards 2016. The Marathi version will release on 6th October in cinemas across Maharashtra with other states and the Hindi version following suit soon.

The film was also an official selection at The International Film Festival of India (IFFI) Goa (in Indian Panorama) 2015, Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2015, Bengaluru International Film Festival 2016 (BIFFES) and Imagine India International Film Festival Spain 2016.

Produced by SMR Films and directed by Gajendra Ahire (Postcard, Touring Talkies), The Silence is based on a true story. The narrative revolves around a little girl Chinni who’s grown up in a rural area. Circumstances force Chinni’s father to send her uncle in a nearby town and life takes a drastic and unexpected turn. Blending past and present and with forceful drama, the film tackles the crucial, taboo topic of sexual assault and its aftermath, tracing the recurring question of responsibility or silence.

The story and screenplay is written by Ashwini Sidwani and features music by Indian Ocean of Black Friday and Masaan fame. Besides writing the story and screenplay, Ashwini Sidwani has also produced the film along with Arpan Bhukhanwala and is the debut production of their banner SMR Films. The story idea of The Silence emerged when Ashwini met a lawyer named Pooja Khote who had fought the case of the real life victim who inspired the film.

The Silence Poster
The Silence Poster

Ashwini Sidwani says “I was writing a TV show on domestic violence called Nyaay and that’s when I got to know about this case and wrote a script on it. We felt only the format of film can do justice to this story. Films that deal with the theme of rape rarely focus on the victim’s trauma and the stigma that gets attached with them. While writing the script, I visited asylums, hospitals, jails to understand the psyche of a rapist and what a victim undergoes. I realized that the perpetrators are as normal as any other individual. Rape does not have anything to do with sex or lust. It is about opportunity and power.”

Raghubir Yadav, Nagraj Manjule, Vedashree Mahajan in The Silence
Raghubir Yadav, Nagraj Manjule, Vedashree Mahajan in The Silence

Producer Apan Bhukhanwala says “Rapists are normal people. They do not wear flashy clothes and do not have a physically overpowering presence. In most cases, we have seen that rapists are very normal people. And in such cases, not just the victims, their families also go through difficulties. Besides facing the trauma, the victims often end up blaming themselves, their clothes or the fact that they venture out at odd hours.”

Director Gajendra Ahire says “The movie challenges the notion that the victim is at fault. It’s not her fault that she goes out in darkness to answer nature’s call and gets assaulted. It’s not her fault she has to use the crowded public transport and it’s certainly not her fault when her father or uncle takes advantage of her.”

Director Nagraj Manjule who is known for directing the critically and commercially acclaimed Fandry and Sairat appears in a prominent role in the movie. The film also marks the Marathi debut of National Award winning actress Anjali Patil.

Nagraj Manjule says “Gajendra ji had narrated the script to me and I found it extremely powerful. Moreover it also gave me an opportunity to work with some fantastic actors like Anjali Patil and Raghubir Yadav. This coupled with my role which I thought was very interesting motivated my decision to act in the film.”