Parthos Sen-Gupta

By Amma Aburam and Vincent Magnenat

The Horyou team sat with Indian producer Partho Sen-Gupta for his film “Sunrise,” shown at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH). The film lies between reality and a dream in which a man is desperate to find his kidnapped child. It denounces the issue of child kidnapping in India and comes from an incident in his childhood that cannot easily be forgotten. His film shines light on a delicate issue and raises awareness about it.

On India and his inspiration

As a child, Sen-Gupta was almost kidnapped in the streets of Mumbai while playing with his friends. Three men approached him and picked him up. If there hadn’t been workers close by who heard the children scream, he may have been lost forever. “The mind is a memory disk, and once I had my daughter, it all came back. I recalled the incident, and the film is of course a result of that,” he said.

After the near-kidnapping, many of Sen-Gupta’s friends made fun of him for almost being taken. “I didn’t really have the chance to forget it because of other kids making fun of me,” he said. On one of his many returns to India, he witnessed a silent protest in which people had pictures of their children that were missing or kidnapped. He visited organizations and associations related to helping these parents, only to discover that the government isn’t doing much to help these families. This was part of the inspiration behind his film.

On the film and cultural mindsets

Sen-Gupta eschews the classic tale of a man looking for his missing child. “I instead decided to work on the effects of losing a child on the parents. So it’s the story of a father looking for his missing child while knowing deep down that he’ll never find her,” he said. In the movie, the man enters an imaginary world where he is a hero who saves his child. “He becomes a hero in his dreams, in a fantasy world to a point that even the audience doesn’t know whether it is real or simply the imagination of the father,” Sen-Gupta said. When asked why he thinks the kidnapping of children is so common in India, Sen-Gupta underlined the objectification of women and children. “It’s a mindset that women and children are objects, so they belong to men,” Sen-Gupta said. “The problem is, women participate in this mentality. Young women must lead the revolution to change minds first. It is not my place to solve the problem; I simply have an angle on a problem that concerns me and I can create a documentary for people to see.”

On Dreaming, Acting and Inspiring

“The basis of cinema is to dream, and when you dream, you find subjects and themes. I am always dreaming. When I have an idea in mind, it may take a while, but eventually it pushes me to take action and create something. My daughter is my inspiration. Once she was born I was inspired to make this film and show the problem that exists in India.”

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