On the surface, Sameer— that hit theatres on September 8—is an edge-of-the-seat suspense thriller. But deep within, the film comes across as the cumulative agony of an Amdavadi, who was a mute spectator of the 2008 serial bomb blasts that rocked his city, shattering hundreds of lives, hopes, dreams and faith. The heart-rending scenes across the city inspired Dakxin Chhara to weave together the untold stories of those who suffered during the attack.
“Sameer is nothing but catharsis for me. It’s a fictionalised account of that gruesome sight. The trail of blood shook my sense and sensibilities as a filmmaker and fired my imagination. The film explores an unseen area of terrorism and opposes the idea of categorising terrorism based on religion. Terrorism doesn’t just kill people, it kills innocence of the society,” says the award-winning filmmaker, playwright, director and activist from the Chhara Denotified Tribes of Ahmedabad.
He researched extensively and tried to explore the reason for violence in society in general, and our being in particular. “Violence and economy are inter-related. I sketched a plot based on my research and found two factors to be interdependent. But my script was linear and had an academic approach; it took a lot of fine-tuning to shape the film,” quips Chhara.
He didn’t have enough resources or people to back the project, but that didn’t deter him. Once he decided, things slowly started falling into place. He chose Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub to play the lead, a Muslim engineering student who is wrongly accused of terrorism, in his debut film as a director. “Zeeshan is a grossly underutilised actor. His acting has been intense and power-packed,” he says.
The film also stars Seema Biswas, Subrata Datta, Anjali Patil, and Chinmay Mandlekar.
The 44-year-old filmmaker never went to a film school; instead, he chose to miss school to watch films at video parlours and cinema halls. “Films are self-consuming, and film-making is a self-taught art in my case,” he says. And his approach to films is as unique as the spelling of his name—raw, real and humane.