Natkhat is a short film that sheds light on the various issues surrounding gender inequality. The film is directed by Shaan Vyas and written by Vyas and Annukampa Harsh which stars Vidya Balan and child actress Sanika Patel at the forefront.
An intriguing fact about the film is that all children were untrained non-actors who the makers of the film workshopped with and trained over weeks. Elaborating on that fact, the writer recently spoke about how they went to the child actress's hometown Harda and trained the child actors in the film.
Anukampa said, "We had consciously made the decision to not commit to any specific state in our story so that we can create a film that is relatable to everyone from around the country. And we also made a decision to move our shoot to whichever place our Sonu is from, because instead of including any kind of nuances or language-based nuances in the writing and then finding a child who cannot adapt to that easily, rather find a child that we adapt our story around our culture and mannerisms of that child."
The writer of the film further added, "Having said that, once we found Sanika and laid our faith in her talent and knew that she is our Sonu, Shaan and I flew down and we went to Harda to meet Sanika since we had never met her face to face, we wanted to spend some time with her and get to know her. Most of the major theater scenes are based out of places like Bhopal and Indore and we wanted to avoid having to bring in talent from different parts of the country."
Anukampa added, "So we found talent based out of Harda and since schools were shut at that point in time and summer vacations usually mean that lot of children are traveling so we had to find a way of not only meeting and auditioning children who are present there locally but also ensure that they are there around the shoot dates and so many of them were actually visiting their grandparents for summer vacation."
The writer continued, "Once we found our actors, we made them understand why we are making this story by sensitizing the children to the ruling culture and we were teaching them to be nice children. We created a lot of conversations about respect for each other and how everyone needs to be taken care of making them extremely conscious of how they treat each other. Through conversations with them, we found techniques or the keys to tap into their emotions to help them act."
Natkhat has been produced by Ronnie Screwvala and Vidya Balan. The short film is written with Sanaya Irani Zohrabi as the associate producer. It premiered on YouTube as part of the We Are One: A Global Film Festival on the 2nd of June 2020.