Ritika Bajaj Vijra’s ‘Ab Rab Havale‘ is a story full of agony many might relate to. Set in the backdrop of 1947 India-Pakistan partition, it is the moving saga of a family that has to leave its roots and step into a new country, leaving a loved one behind. Annup Sonii who plays one of the pivotal characters in the film, opened up to us during an exclusive conversation.
You’ve been working in TV and films for many years now. But this was the first time you worked in a short film. Was it a delightful experience?
If you talk about short films, I did work in one earlier. I worked in a students’ short film earlier. But yes, this is officially my first short film. I loved it. The moment Ritika told me about the story, I was sure I’d do it.
Have you watched earlier works of Ritika?
No, I haven’t. But she has worked with a number of common friends before, so I knew about her. The way she narrated the story was enough for me to understand it. There was Farida ji (Farida Jalal), there was Shilpa (Shilpa Agnihotri). So yes, I enjoyed!
Partition and birth of Pakistan are very sensitive subjects. Did you draw reference from any other film or character while preparing for the film?
This subject was very close to my heart because my ancestors belonged to Pakistan. I am a Punjabi, born in Punjab. Relatives of both my father’s side and mother’s side lived in Lahore. My father migrated to India when he was 5-year-old. I remember hearing so many stories from my grandfather about partition. I lived those stories when I was doing this film. For me, this was like going back to my roots.
Short films are a very strong medium of expression. But do you think they’re kind of underrated?
I think ‘underrated’ is not the right term. Basically, everything takes time. Initially when internet came, we weren’t sure what internet can do. But today, we are buying everything from clothes to shoes from internet. Someone asked me whether digital media would replace cinema one day. I said that wouldn’t happen. Imagine, we have 24*7 hours television entertainment, in so many languages. There are almost 300 channels. In spite of that, our films are doing business of 200-300 crore. Television opened a new avenue for films. So, every medium compensates in its own way. Short films are a platform, an opportunity. The arena is bigger now. I would love to do short films. It gives you variety of roles and there is no fixed audience or monetary compulsions. People are experiencing.
Web series are increasingly popular. Would you like to try it?
Of course. I am an actor. I did not do it because it was a short film, but it was a great opportunity to perform. If someone offers me something that is different from what I’ve already done, that would be great. I will be open to any kind of short films or web series.
This film comes at a time when both India and Pakistan are going through a rough time and this is affecting the cultural sphere too. Do you think banning Pakistani artists is actually any solution?
Many times, people react out of emotions. Imagine a close friend is avoiding you. You are also hurt and ignore them back. That doesn’t mean you believe in acting like that. You’re symbolically telling them, if you aren’t good with me, I am not good with you too. There were 18 soldiers, they were attacked when they slept. It is obvious to evoke anger. Of course, banning Pakistani artists would not solve issues between India and Pakistan. But this is the outcome of an emotion. This simply means, if you are not good with us, we don’t want to continue with anything with you.
Watch the short film here: