NEW DELHI: Independent filmmaker Pushpendra Singh says his film "Ashwatthama" addresses how religion can be misused and can be a support as well in an individual's life.
Shot almost entirely in black-and-white monochrome with splashes of colour, the movie revolves around a nine-year-old boy, Ishvaku (Aryan Singh), who spends a winter with his relatives after his mother is killed in an attack by dacoits. The sensitive child is shaped by the characters he meets and the fields and hillside that lie beyond his house.
On the concept of the film, Singh told IANS: "It started with religion... How we see religion, the way it shapes us and affects us. It is all from my memory. I was born and brought up in Chambal. The whole film is like a dialogue with myself. How I was influenced... It had a negative as well as positive impact on me.
"The film addresses how religion can be misused and can be a support as well in our low days. It helps you overcome the bad times as well. You have something to do everyday, a ritual to complete everyday and it keeps you engaged," he added.
The director, who also co-produced and acted in the movie, has himself "witnessed dacoits" and says the "weapons were easily available in our area".
"Like we see in the film, the moment the word would go out that dacoits have entered the village, people would actually climb up the terraces and firing and gun shots were a common phenomenon. That experience has stayed with me," Singh said.
"Ashwatthama" has been screened at a number of film festivals including the Busan International Film Festival, Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival and Dharamshala International Film Festival.
Watch the trailer of the feature here: