Marathi film directed by Karan Chavan and Vikram Patil screened at MAMI 2018

A biological term for the final stage of an insect’s development becomes a metaphor for a coming-of-age tale in Karan Chavan and Vikram Patil Marathi’s production Imago.

The duo’s feature debut, which had its world premiere at the Mumbai Film Festival in October this year, follows Namrata (Aishwarya Ghaydar), a bright but reclusive teenager in Kolhapur who suffers from vitiligo, a disease that leads to loss of pigmentation in patches of skin. Imagowhich was in the running for Oxfam India’s best film on gender equality at the festival (the prize went to Ivan Ayr’s Soni) was co-produced by Aispais productions and 3F Aviraj Films Entertainment.

The intention was to give an honest account of a teenager with vitiligo, Chavan and Patil said. Scroll.in. “We wanted to portray the psyche of people with this skin condition and how beautiful they are,” Chavan said. “We didn’t want it to be information heavy, but we wanted it to be a journey tracing their psychology.”

Imago.

The film captures a range of Namrata’s experiences and emotions, from bullying and self-doubt to infatuation with his teacher (Amol Deshmukh).

Chavan and Patil, who studied Fine Arts together, began their collaboration in 2011. Their credits include the award-winning short films Dagadful (2012) and Pollute (2013). For their first feature film, they were inspired by the experiences of their friends with vitiligo.

“One of our subjects in college was clicking portraits,” recalls Patil. “I also knew a friend who had vitiligo, who was very beautiful, but she always refused to let me click on a portrait because she didn’t feel beautiful. We then decided on this subject for our debut. The duo started working on the project in 2014 and shot the film in Kolhapur and Panhala for 30 days.

Their preparation involved detailed conversations with doctors and people with the skin condition. “We wanted to understand the psychology of these people,” Patil said. “We didn’t want to make it a documentary, but just a movie about how they live their lives and how people react around them.”

The filmmakers also wanted to capture the simplicity of life in Kolhapur. “We spent our childhood in Kolhapur and all of our other films are from this city as well,” Chavan said.

Imago. Courtesy of Aispais Productions.

One of the biggest hurdles they faced was casting their teenage role. “Although we initially wanted to cast an actress in makeup, we soon realized that the actor might not be feeling and expressing what vitiligo patients actually feel,” Chavan said. “So we decided we wanted a character that had the condition. But most of them were hesitant to play the role.

After much deliberation, the directors finalized Aishwarya Ghaydar for the role. She also took workshops to get used to the camera. “We wanted the film to be very realistic and didn’t want to fake anything,” Patil said. “People with vitiligo, their moods and silences cannot be reproduced on screen. Only people with the disease might be able to describe it accurately.

Funding appeared as the film’s next big hurdle, until a local producer from Kolhapur came on board. The filmmakers are also working on a theatrical release.

“When we decided to make the movie, we searched for producers for over a year and told them the story,” Chavan said. “But most of them dismissed it as an art film. But thanks to Vikram’s contact, we got the contact of a local producer. We told our story and he was very open-minded and gave us the green light. We had another producer join us after post-production.

Karan Chavan (left) and Vikram Patil.