‘Gehraiyaan’ intimacy director Dar Gai: MeToo made us realise how trust is compromised on sets


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#MeToo made us realise how trust is compromised on sets: ‘Gehraiyaan’ intimacy director Dar Gai

The global MeToo movement against sexual abuse has made people aware that acting is a vulnerable profession and there is a need to provide a “physically” and “psychologically” safe work environment to actors, says “Gehraiyaan” intimacy director Dar Gai. The Ukraine-born filmmaker, who is settled in India, was roped in by director Shakun Batra for the film, making “Gehraiyaan” one of the first movies in Bollywood to have an intimacy director, a position which became an integral part of film sets in the post #MeToo world.

Gai believes the role of an intimacy specialist on the set is that of a protector, who understands and respects the performer’s “traumas”. “Execution of the product is not enough, what’s also important is how we feel during that execution, how our actors feel, whether they feel psychologically in a safe zone or not,” the filmmaker told PTI in a Zoom interview.

The MeToo movement, which was propelled by the expose of Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s widespread sexual abuse, made people look at actors with a more humane approach, she said.

“The movement made us realise that there are so many different ways in which trust can be compromised. We need to understand that actors are human beings, they have certain trauma and experiences in life, certain things they don’t want to do. All this needs to be discussed with them in order to keep them stable, happy.

“It also makes the entire process easier, more professional and gets an outcome which can create much more connection with your audience than if you just push your actors to do whatever you’d like to,” Gai added.

The filmmaker shared that she knows a lot of actors who have had “disturbing” experiences as the directors wanted them to go beyond their comfort zone while doing an initimate scene.

“Being an actor, it’s a very vulnerable profession, because you have so many eyes looking at you and judging you and thinking about you. And it’s complicated. It is important to figure out how to make that zone, that experience safer,” she asserted.

“Gehraiyaan”, starring Deepika Padukone, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Ananya Panday, Dhairya Karwa, is a contemporary relationship drama. Gai gives credit to Batra for understanding the need of bringing in specialists to choreograph the intimate scenes and also to help actors prepare for the same.


Best known for directing festival favourites — “Teen Aur Aadha” and “Namdev Bhau: In Search of Silence”, Gai believes directors and producers have the responsibility of creating a healthy work space for performers.

“Directors and producers need to understand that intimacy specialist, be it a director or coordinator or coach is there on set not just to be in certain teams like actors’ team or just director. They are there to facilitate a comfort zone for everyone. It’s not trying to take the director’s vision, it actually tries to help,” she asserted, adding that intimacy directors act as a bridge between all the departments.

Detailing the process they used while preparing and shooting for the Amazon Original movie, Gai said they started with understanding what exactly they had to bring on screen and accordingly designed workshops for the four leads.

“We sat with our actors and took them through each and every shot that we thought could be complicated. And if they’re uncomfortable with something, i.e they didn’t want to do something, we had a space to sort out those issues and find alternatives.”

As it was her first job as an intimacy director, Gai said she was excited about the outcome and was extremely happy with the way things turned out on the day of the shoot. The actors, she said, were all supportive.

“What was surprising for me is that not even for once the actors hesitated, even when we started workshops. They never said no to any of the exercises. If something wasn’t clear for them, they would just ask me in a polite, constructive way. It’s very collaborative working in this kind of environment.”

The filmmaker believes workshops help the actors, as well as the director, find the right language for a particular character that will seem organic on the screen. She said she noticed a huge difference in the way the four lead performers conducted themselves on shoot post the sessions.

“We immediately saw the difference before the workshop and after the workshop when we shot. They understood each other so when the complicated scenes were conducted, it wasn’t difficult anymore,” she said.

“Gehraiyaan”, also featuring Naseeruddin Shah and Rajat Kapoor in supporting roles will premiere on Prime Video on February 11. 

 



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