Caught in the claustrophobia of the lockdown life, I decided to unwind by watching Kriti Nagar Sharma’s Kalakar. The film is a story about a struggling actor who is awe inspired by Amitabh Bachchan but is caught between making the cut as an actor and discharging his duties towards the family, especially his mother. It is no surprise that to correlate the love for a mother with the Ankit Hans story, the iconic temple scene of Deewar plays out. If Ankit wants peace for his mother, Bachchan is heard asking Shiva not to penalize his mother for his sins, for which he is ready to atone.
Ankit shudders to speak of his plight as his mother talks of pain in her knees, payment of rents and monetary assistance. Ankit has not got his payments for over eight months. This has trebled a cash crunch. As the sole bread winner, all depends on him. Prospective employers either don’t talk or hang the phone down. Having given up jobs and struggling to earn money, he often faces jibes of his own friends.
Struck by the fascinating yet tough Lights, Camera, action life even Ankit was unaware of the ugly side to Mayanagri and its struggles until he landed in Mumbai. We often get caught in that ratrace, but ultimately the sanest of voices have been heard saying money matters over craft. In Ankit’s words, for stars it is like that drug which keeps you going in the darkest of times but the other side to the debate is that surnames matter, be it a Khan, Dhawan or Kapoor.
Like what is common in the city of dreams, you are cast in a film, auditions happen but ultimately when its time to roll the camera the filmmaker suddenly drops the idea. The worst affected is the struggler who is not established as a star and is at the beck and call of the casting director. All this as he waits haplessly to get that one break. He is surviving on mostly one time meal or just having maggi. He fights back with a smile- as this is his life. He is an artist.
The role of Ankit Hans is not just a one of case but the story of a zillion artists who aspire to be the next Hrithik, Shahrukh or Aamir but are eventually pushed into oblivion because of the flawed policies of the film industry.
Ankit is shown as a guy who is trying doubly hard to convince the directors of ad films and feature films to give him a break, but unlike popular belief, his calls fall on deaf ears. To double his woes is the fact that his dues are not cleared, which push him into depression. But like they say an artist never dies. Even as he juggles between phone calls to reach prospective collaborators, it is his craft that cuts that depressed self that he hides effortlessly practicing in front of the mirror.
Overall it is a poignant reflection of the modern day struggler, who dreams but fails to make the cut minus a backing. Ultimately many like Ankit are left with that one critical question, should they continue or should they give up and search alternate career options.
The film is the recipient of the Best Short Film – Dehradun International Film Festival. The sentiment of the film is best summed up in the lines – Sipahi Bhooke Toh Lad Lenge, Lekin Bhook se Kaise Ladenge