• Thursday, June 20, 2024

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Wanted to explore sexual repression through Agra: Kanu Behl on his Cannes-bound film

The 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival will conclude on May 27.

Agra film poster

By: Mohnish Singh

Director Kanu Behl says he wanted to explore sexual repression, a feeling that often doesn’t get addressed in India, through his film Agra, which is set to have its world premiere at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday.

The movie, which will be screened in the Directors’ Fortnight section at Cannes, marks Behl’s return to the prestigious gala that feted his 2014 debut feature film Titli (Un Certain Regard category).

Drawing parallels between his two features, the filmmaker said while Titli was about “family” and “circularity”, Agra captures the “soul of a troubled boy”.

“‘Agra‘ is about sexual repression, the idea of physical spaces, and how our repressed sexuality ends up affecting physical spaces around us. And how, in turn, physical spaces end up affecting our sexual lives. It is a play between the two,” Behl told PTI in an interview. “I wanted to get inside the soul of a troubled boy and understand however difficult the journey might be. I wanted to understand this idea of sexual maturity and sexual repression. It’s a feeling that does not get addressed often in our country.”

The director, who assisted Dibakar Banerjee on films such as Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye and co-wrote LSD: Love Sex Aur Dhokha with him, said he often wondered why nobody talked about sexual repression.

He later realised that it may have something to do with how “each of us has a public life, a personal life, and then a secret life”, Behl said.

“There are some things about your secret life that you don’t reveal to anyone and I found that really interesting. I wanted to go there and explore some of the things that we toy with when we are alone in those secret spaces,” he observed.

Agra, written by Behl and Atika Chohan, revolves around Guru, a 24-year-old young single call centre employee, who still lives with his parents and dreams of a room and real intimacy. Caught between his family, the world around him, and his own ‘mind’, Guru slowly begins to unravel.

The film features Mohit Agarwal, Priyanka Bose, Rahul Roy, Vibha Chhibber, Rahul Roy, Anchal Goswami, and Sonal Jha.

Aashiqui star Roy, Behl said, was one of the initial actors they tested for the part of the family patriarch. But the actor found “something personal” in the character and dedicated himself to the three-month-long workshop, the director recalled.

“During the workshop, he was the first one to reach and the last one to leave. He found something personal in the script, something really connected with him and early on he said, ‘I will do this role, no one else’ and he completely owned the part,” Behl said.

The 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival will conclude on May 27.

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