Director Akshay Singh’s debut feature on skin colour bias makes its India premiere at MAMI Film Festival. However, a national release is a far-fetched dream.
Debutant director Akshay Singh spent his childhood at a boarding school in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. But he fondly remembers spending two months every year at his hometown, Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh. So much so, that we can tell he’s smiling as he recalls the time spent with his family, when we speak with him over a phone call.
However, there’s dull silence when he recollects the colour bias he saw around him. “Some of my cousins were not as fair-skinned as the rest of the family. Aunties would often suggest they use fairness creams, facials, and address them as ‘bechari’,” he says. As a child, he didn’t realise the graveness of those remarks. The bias hit home years later, when his wife, too, had to face unfavourable remarks about her complexion. That’s when the idea of his maiden directorial, Pinky Beauty Parlour, struck him.
After spending a decade in the industry working as an actor, in what he terms “totally forgettable” films (Baat Bann Gayi; 2013 and Ghayal Once Again; 2016), Singh returned to his hometown to shoot his debut. Set in a beauty parlour in Varanasi, the film throws light on the obsession with fair skin and colour bias. “Even a simple Google search threw up numerous news reports about people facing skin colour-based discrimination. All those news reports were part of my research for the film,” he says.
Earlier this year, when the movie was screened under the segment of Le Marché du Film at the Cannes Film Festival, Singh remembers being nervous, and hoped the essence of the film would not be lost in translation. Now, as it premieres at the upcoming MAMI Film Festival, he feels more confident . “I have been attending the festival for the past six years. It feels good to be on the other side,” he says.
However, Singh, is unsure about the national release of the film due to budget constraints. In fact, he has had put up the movie for crowdfunding. For the distribution and national release, the team is aiming to collect funds worth Rs 40 lakh. “We don’t have big stars, fancy locations or music. Story is the king here. We can only hope people like it at the festival, and the film sees a theatrical release by next year,” he says.
What: Pinky Beauty Parlour will be screened at MAMI Film Festival on October 24, 1pm
Where: PVR, Andheri (W)
Tickets: Rs 1,600 onward for the festival, on bookmyshow.com/mami