• Golden Globe Awards

Interrogation (India)

Interrogation, a film directed by South Indian film maker Vetri Maaran is a film that deals with police brutality and political corruption. Four friends from Tamil speaking Tamil Nadu cross their states border and enter Andra Pradesh a telegue speaking state. They seek a better life and hope to make enough money to help their families, but life is hard in Andra Pradehs, they sleep in a public park and manage to survive always being optimistic that something will come their way. Eventually one of them gets a job in a produce shop and things begin to look up for the four of them. But then just as suddenly their lives are turned into a nightmare when they are wrongly accused of stealing jewelry from a local residence. The four of them are arrested and brutally beaten by the police in order to make them confess to a crime that they did not commit. But there’s a much larger political plot going on and that is to derail a federal election.The film is raw and hard-hitting and sometimes difficult to watch because the director is in your face with the police brutality. I met with the director when he was in Los Angeles and asked him why he felt compelled to make the film and he said that,” Everyone in one way or the other is concerned about what goes on around us in the world. We have different ways of expressing it. I realized that this story had to be told. This is not an isolated incident. This is happening and has happened many times over. The writer of the book Chandra Kumar became the face of millions of people who have faced police brutality. He was one of the four boys who had migrated to Andra Pradesh, he told me that ‘Our cries for justice were never heard by anyone beyond the four walls, and if I made the film it would give me the feeling of justice’ this is what motivated me to make the film.”This must have been emotionally draining for the actors? “All the actors came on board with the same trust and care that I had for the script, they all knew that the film would be challenging and emotionally taxing. I told them that I was going to shoot it in chronological order. Many of the actors did not even want to read the script, they just came on board when they head the subject matter.It was an interesting journey for all of us. It was a challenging space but that is what gave fluidity and a very real look to the film. Also, most of the scenes in the second half of the film were not written, we just improvised on the spot. I felt guilty about writing certain scenes, especially the scene where the cops are sitting and discussing about how to kill these boys. Most of my actors and some of whom where directors in their own right contributed to make the second half as real as possible.”Does this kind of police brutality still exist today? “Worldwide police brutality is still a reality, in a way the tolerance level of people in power has gone down. Even a peaceful protest is not allowed now a days. Even social media is being scrutinized.”Have you experienced any kind of a backlash since the film has been released? “No I have not received any backlash. The film is the official selection from India to the Oscars and that shows that I come from a democratic country. That says a lot about the artistic freedom that we all enjoy in India.”