Room with a View

Any view changes once you look at it through a peephole. A mere observer is transformed into a voyeur and those glimpses of mundane day-to-day activities, take on the form of something hidden and exciting. A lonely and demented old man and his teenage grandson peek into the life of two women in an affectionate relationship. The journeys and lives of these vivid and varied characters has been explored by filmmaker Manoj K Nitharwal.

A student of Film Direction at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Nitharwal talks about his upcoming diploma film, tentatively titled Seek and Hide, and his experience of working with noted actors Seema Biswas and Mohan Agashe.

"If you stay long enough with the darkness, you become the darkness," says Nitharwal, flicking the ash off his cigarette and taking a sip of masala chai. Dressed in a safari waistcoat and cargo pants, he exudes the serenity of a monk. "The grandfather and the teenage boy look through a spy glass across the building into a slum, trying to make some sort of connection with life. As they look, they are drawn into the lives of two women — a young woman and her mother-in-law," he explains. Nitharwal, who is originally from Rajasthan, completed his MBBS at Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi, and went on to do his post-graduation at Imperial College, London. Working as a forensic psychiatrist in London before joining FTII, Nitharwal says he was always interested in human psychology. His earlier project Mukhbir was screened at IFFI, Goa, last year.

In the 30-minute-long film, the character of the vulnerable yet ferocious old woman — Amma — is portrayed by Biswas. Noted Marathi actor Agashe will be seen in the role of a grandfather with dementia. "In psychology, there is a concept called projective testing. It is a personality test designed to let a person respond to ambiguous stimuli, which reveals hidden emotions and internal conflicts. The film comprises chunks of their reactions and situations," says Nitharwal.

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