Not everyone loves the same and some are definitely luckier than others when it comes to love. For a lot of us, love is merely a matter of imagination – a speck of thought, an involuntarily painful internal spectacle of moments that deliberate desire but ultimately crumble down to reveal the reality.
For ages on end, love stories have been marred by the presence of forces that enforce love to crumble or languish in shackles. Free of corporeal possibilities, however, love is free. When reality doesn’t permit love, love escapes to the realms beyond and flourishes there.
Depicting such a love story that goes beyond the realms of reality even as it is strongly rooted in the reality of the fate of love is Shelly Sharma’s film musical film Tere Bagair. Shot for TM music to accompany singer-songwriter Akshay Khot’s rhythmic composition, Shelly’s story, featuring Moumita Pal and Sofia, thinks about love as it is seldom represented.
There is some truth to the fact that most of the love story narratives in the world, as skewed by the society around, are skewed in themselves at times. Shelly’s primary intention was to break that narrative.
Says Shelly, “The idea was to feature two women lovers and to have them share intimate moments without sexualising it. Bored and done with watching the same girl-boy saga over years this video here is my attempt to shed some light on the grim reality of same-sex relationships in our country and to make some space where conversations of the sort are normalised.”
The dreamy sequences that begin with rebellion go on to transform into receptacles of light, tender, sepia-tinted moments as one might see the world when truly in love. As Moumita’s character dares to break away right after a wedding that shouldn’t have happened, she is received with a lot of love by Sofia’s character. With no particular intention in mind, the two just set off, figuring out their lives, their destiny as they move along. Love hides in nimble, mundane moments rather than in sexual outwardness. At every point, one is filled with reassurance as love seeps in through the various cracks and makes one believe that all one needs is one person to love, be with, and accept and all one needs is for that person to come at them with the same kind of love or at least accept and convey the same as best as possible.
Shelly’s film, in depicting these little fantastical moments, brings together this love and pours it out for the viewer to feel its most real essence.
In real life, not all love stories come with a happy ending and that’s exactly what Shelly also wanted to reflect on.
During our short chat where she was able to talk about her concept and the hard work behind making the film with a small crew of 6 people in over 2 days, Shelly also spoke about how love is essentially tough. She talked about friends who had accepted their fate because they couldn’t afford the price that not accepting it would have incurred. We all want to rebel but more often than not, reality trumps our desires, and so, why shouldn’t love stories also be about those who wanted but had to satiate themselves with the dream of having it?
Shelly is one of India’s counted female cinematographers and so quite naturally, our conversation tread into asking about her place in the industry and the effort she is required to put.
Between concerns against ‘madam’ having to lift heavy equipment and occasionally not being taken seriously as an authority because of her gender identity, leading cinematography as a woman in India is a tough task.
“As a director, it’s been fairly easier even though there is always this thought that someone is judging even when you are delivering.”
Also speaking about the male gaze, she says that this film was an attempt to realise a different kind of a relationship with the camera and hence, the story was approached in a different way.
Talking further about the cinematography behind Tere Bagair, Shelly says, “It was a very spontaneous style of shooting and we, as a team, knew what we were signing up for – we didn’t have rehearsals, we didn’t always know our locations but what really helped me was the fact that I was both the DoP and the director and hence, nothing was lost in translation. I was able to articulate most of my thoughts onto the frames. Whenever there was a compromise to be made, it was easier for me to weigh.”
She continues, “The set-up was quite indie. We didn’t expect to have help around and most of it was shot in the actor’s own clothes. Shooting at Bhakti Kutir was one of the warmest experiences.”
A woman of passion putting all her love to depict women in love, Shelly talks about breaking the binaries and realising the need for cinema to depict realities because it has the power to become the friend who guides and advises when one isn’t able to find one.
Shelly is currently excited about her upcoming project for VICE Asia.
Watch Tere Bagair here.
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