The film is the story of Ayesha, played by Kher, a widow living with her teenage son in the village of Charki, in Punjab, Pakistan. Set in 1979, when the then Pakistan President General Zia ul Haq had placed the country under martial law, Khamosh Pani is the moving tale of Ayesha, caught between memories of the past and her son, Saleem, played by Aamir Malik, who is carried away by the wave of fundamentalism.
“The movie is a message to youngsters not to be carried away by fundamentalist elements existing in society,” Kher said at the Q&A session, after the screening of the film at the ongoing Dubai International Film Festival. Khamosh Pani, is probably, the only movie so far screened at DIFF to have received a standing ovation from the audience.
“It feels nice to be among audience that come from all regions,” Kher said, adding, “This film is truly international. It is directed by a Pakistani married to a Sri Lankan, living in Delhi. The film is produced by a set of people who come from Sri Lanka, Germany and France.” The film's cast included artists from both Pakistan and India.
Khamosh Pani won the Golden Leopard award at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2003, where it was first premiered.
The production of the film, which has been applauded wherever it was screened since, had to be called off in 2001. “The production team was a mix of different nationalities. After the September 11 attacks, it was not for most of them stay back in Pakistan. They had to return home,” the actress said. The film resumed production in 2002 and was completed over three months.
“It was not easy shooting. We had to wake up at 4am, brave the morning chill,” Kirron, who arrived in Pakistan with a torn ligament for shooting of the film, said.
Talking about the theme of the film, the actress said, “The director was brave to chose such a storyline. Like charity begins at home, criticism should also begin at home.” Sabiha Sumar’s story, the actress said, was based on a lot of research work. “The movie is a fiction, based on a lot of true stories,” Kirron said.
“I think my roots are most apparent in this movie,” the actress said, stressing the fact that her mother had moved to India in 1947.
“I would not say Khamosh Pani has changed me. But it is a film that moves me,” Kirron, who won the best actress award for her role at the Karachi Film Festival, said.
Explaining the name Khamosh Pani for the movie, the actress said, “The director wanted to name it Ayesha or Veero. The movie was to be initially released in Europe and Ayesha sounded an exotic name for a movie — the French would have mistaken it for a belly dance, and Veero, I am told, means wart in French. And she decided on Khamosh Pani. I guess the name reflects the life of the central character in the movie.”
The actress, who appears in the latest Bollywood blockbuster Veer Zaara, told City Times, “My heart lies in alternate cinema. And I would continue to seek roles in them.” She added, “It is only in alternate cinema that a woman will be able to play the protagonist's role. It would just not be possible in other forms of cinema.”
Kirron Kher has appeared in Bariwali, Darmiyan and Sardari Begum, apart from appearing in several other mainstream Bollywood films including hits like Devdas and Hum Tum.
The wife of acclaimed film actor-director Anupam Kher will appear in Ketan Mehta’s The Rising, based on the life and times of Indian freedom fighter Mangal Pandey, played by film actor Aamir Khan. The actress will also appear in It Could Be You, opposite Naseeruddin Shah and directed by Taranjit Singh.
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