My first wife, Seema, was a Kapoor but my father who was a Kapoor himself, had no objections to the match even though she was almost like a cousin. For that matter, my family didn’t even object to Nandita (his second wife) despite her being a Bengali," points out Om Puri, who is currently shooting for a film that revolves around the honour killings in Haryana that have been grabbing headlines.
The veteran actor insists that the killing of youngsters who defy parental dictates to marry within the same gotra (caste) or khap (a union of about 40 odd villages formed over half a century ago ruled by a Maha Panch) is a recent phenomenon.
“I grew up in Punjab and though there were times when one’s choice of a life partner may have sparked off family rows, I don’t recall ever hearing of parents slaughtering their offspring,” he points out. “Such instances only came to light in the last decade. Why should our bade-buzurg (elders) be allowed to take a life only because traditional beliefs were defied?”
TV to film
That’s a concern that producer-director Ajai Sinha shares too. The king of TRPs, with superhit shows like Hasratein, Astitva and Ghar Ek Sapna, Sinha was drawn to make the transition to the big screen again, after the disastrous Bachelors, because he wants such cold-hearted killings to stop, pronto.
“I’m not pressing for a change in the law. All I’m saying is that to murder someone because of some distant connection is senseless. Hey, on those grounds one could argue that since mankind can be traced back to Adam and Eve we are all brothers and sisters?” argues Sinha, who has invested his own money into the project so he will not have to wait eternally for his film to release.
At the end of 26 days, he has just five days work remaining and about three songs to be shot. “I’m look towards a July-August release,” he says.
That’s pretty good going given that he started work on the script only last November and went on the floors on April 26 after waiting a couple of months for Om Puri’s dates.
Script is King
Besides Puri, the film also features Mohnish Behl, Govind Namdeo, Anuradha Patel and a couple of new faces. Wouldn’t a few more star names have made it easier to see the film?
“May be but big stars would insist on changes in the story. And that can’t happen in this case because even the Prime Minister and the President haven’t been able to bring about any changes in this on-going story. The system wil change only when attitudes change,” he reasons.
His film is rooted in reality without revealing any names, with stories culled from senior journalists and newspaper clippings. But Sinha is quick to point out that it is not a dark true-life drama. “It’s a love story with eight songs and all the commercial masala,” he asserts.
And for the moment has no name still. “I want to go with Khap—The Story Of An Honour Killing. I’ve registered the tile but haven’t got it yet,” says Sinha.
“Lights…Camera… Action!” The film without a name continues through another take.
In March this year, five were given the death sentence for murdering newly weds, Manoj and Babli, who belonged to their family. It’s only in this case of honour killing so far where the court has given its verdict, capital punishment, to the accused.
According to a recent study, there have been over a 100 honour killings in a year alone in Delhi, UP and Haryana.
The common thread that runs through most honour killings is the decision of either partner to find their own match choose rather than letting the family decide.
Till a few years ago, cases were reported only from small towns and villages, but, today, even cities are falling prey to the phenomenon.