New Delhi, May 17 (PTI): Exploring sociocultural themes in the interiors of central India through an absurdist comedy is how first-time director Yashowardhan Mishra says he envisioned “Kathal: A Jackfruit Mystery”, his feature debut.
At the centre of “Kathal” is Mahima Basor, played by Sanya Malhotra, a quick-on-her-feet cop from a lower caste on a mission to find two premium-quality jackfruits that go missing from a local politician’s garden.
Mishra, who studied literature and mass media at Mumbai’s Mithibai College of Arts, said he was committed to shining a light on deeper issues of the society with “a light-hearted satire”. He is also known for his Nashik-set short film “Mandi”. “A lot of ‘Kathal’ has been about unlearning and recognising my privileges as an upper caste man… We had to depict the realities of the world because making a film in itself is a privilege for me. If I can use that privilege to tell stories of the people who are not so privileged, I would (think I) have used my privilege in a more fruitful way,” the debutant told PTI in an interview.
“We wanted to have that level of alienation because the tone of the film is so absurdist. A lot of things are so far-fetched, they are unbelievable. But they are the derivative of basically what we have seen around us. So, it’s pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle with a lot of sociocultural dynamics of that part of the world,” he added.
The Mumbai-based filmmaker co-wrote the movie with his father, two-time National Award winner Ashok Mishra, who worked with veteran director Shyam Benegal on “Welcome to Sajjanpur”.
“I was quite aware of that part of the world. I thought that for my first film, I should explore a story from there,” said Mishra, born to parents belonging to Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
He said “Kathal” is a derivative of the research the team did in Bundelkhand, a hilly region divided between the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. While the film is set in the fictional town of Moba, the police force depicted is the UP Police, he added.