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Honour killing on reel from across the seas

- Actor-director settled in US stops in Gaya for mahurat of short film to be ready late this year

An actor-director-writer who moved to the US two decades ago came to her hometown recently to shoot the mahurat of a film on honour killing.

Kalpna Singh Chitnis is working on a short film, Dancing in the Rains. On March 11, the mahurat of the film was performed. Later, a little part of the film was also shot around the Chhatta Masjid area in the town.

At a news meet on Saturday, she said: “In the film, two sisters aged between 13 and 15 years are shown dancing in the courtyard of their house in the rain. Someone, however, records this dance without the girls knowing about it and uploads it on the Internet. After this incident, the girls’ brother goes to the market and finds people talking about the clip of his sisters. A couple of youths even tease him about it. Deeply hurt, he comes back home and shoots both sisters dead for no fault of theirs. It is a 10-minute short film likely to be completed by the end of 2014. It is being made in Hindi with English sub-titles.”

With the mahurat and the shooting of a few scenes complete, Chitnis has gone back to US. The rest of the film will be shot there.

Chitnis, who moved to the US in 1994 after getting married, added: “I wanted girls from my hometown (Gaya) to play the role of the two sisters in the short film. But I could not find any suitable artistes. Two men from the town, Vivek Mishra and Aditya Awasthi, have played short roles in the film. I am collecting information on incidents where women have been victims of honour killing. Dancing in the Rains will be a tribute to such women.”

Chitnis essays the role of the girls’ mother in the short film.

Apart from working on Dancing in the Rains, she is also planning her next feature film All About My Father. Chitnis, who also writes poems, is recording her second poetry album Ancient Love and her poetry book Bare Soul would soon be available. Among her initiatives include the Silent River Film Festival and Silent River Film and Literary Society in the US of which she is the founder and director.

She said her aim is to bring the East and West together through the medium of cinema and literature. “My parallel mission is to raise awareness about the causes that are important to us and provide these (causes) our active support.”

Born in Gaya and educated at Magadh University, Bodhgaya, Chitnis lived in Illinois for seven years. In 2000, she moved to California and enrolled in the New York Film Academy to realise her dream of becoming a filmmaker. Recognition came her way with her short film Girl With An Accent that was screened at many international film festivals.

She also found success as a writer at a very young age. She has won several awards, including the prestigious Rajbhasha Award given by the state government for her first Hindi poetry collection Chand Ka Paivand (Patch of The Moon) when she was 20 years old. She received the Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award in New Delhi on February 19 this year. Now, she is settled in Irvine, California.