The members of Bishnoi community from Rajasthan are followers of 29 principles. Their name has been derived from Bis (20) and Nai (9) — eight tenets out of these talk about preserving bio-diversity and include a ban on killing animals and the felling of trees. Such is Bishnois’ love for flora and fauna that now a Bollywood film, an action-adventure — dedicated to a massacre of the Bishnois in 1730 — is being shot on the outskirts of Jodhpur.
Punjab-bred actor Gavie Chahal, the protagonist of the film, talks to HT City about the film and why the subject remains relevant even in the present-day scenario. “The film, Sako 363, talks about the sacrifice of 363 people, 283 years ago. The incident on which our film is based was the first instance of Chipko Movement in India, where one family from the Bishnoi community laid down their lives to save the felling of Khejari trees, which was followed by many more such sacrifices,” says Gavie. The film is directed and written by Kalyan Seervi and produced by Sooraj Bishnoi and Kalyan Seervi.
Talking about his character in the film, Gavie says, “I essay the character of Ramooji, while Gracie Singh plays my wife, who protested against the king of Jodhna (now Jodhpur). The film has already completed its first schedule and is to be shot in Jodhpur, Barmer and Nagaur.”
After making his Bollywood debut with commercial hit Ek Tha Tiger, Gavie talks about doing a film that falls under the genre of parallel cinema. “When the script was narrated to me, I liked the story and was happy to be part of a film that would create awareness on the conservation of environment, which is much-needed in today’s world,” says Gavie.
About preparing for his character, Gavie adds, “I researched a lot for the character and took help from my friends in Rajasthan to pick up the local dialect, mannerisms etc.”
Gavie also mentions that interesting conditions have been laid down for the actors during the shoot of the film — a completely vegetarian diet for all actors for as long as the film is being shot.
The film, which will be sent for international film festivals, is being shot under trying whether conditions, says Gavie, “We were shooting near Jodhpur; it started raining a few days ago, which has led to difficult shooting conditions because of the sand. Shooting in remote areas near Barmer is also difficult because of the heat. But, I am enjoying every bit of it and am trying to take up all the difficulties as challenges.” The film also stars actors Raghuveer Yadav and Vishwajeet Pradhan in pivotal roles.