In the sprawling megalopolis of Mumbai, Inspector Joshi searches desperately for his six-year-old daughter, Aruna, who one day, ten years ago, had not come home after school. By day, Joshi is a cog in the wheel of the apathetic police force; by night, he roams the backstreet dancing bars endlessly searching for his daughter. A shadowy figure appears to be everywhere Joshi goes but, despite numerous attempts to catch him, it remains elusive. Late at night, Joshi returns to his cramped apartment to face his broken wife.(scene in the teaser)
Naina, a 6-year-old girl, is brought by traffickers to a brothel and is entrusted to Komal, a teenage prostitute. The girl watches as the other children are sent out to ‘clients’.
Joshi and the other cops lead a raid on the brothel, but the pimps hide the children in a false ceiling. Joshi feels the presence of the shadowy figure.
Babu, a 16-year-old boy, is brought to Joshi badly beaten. Joshi cannot get any answers out of him. He decides to investigate Babu’s family but nothing is turned up. Yet he feels the presence of the shadowy figure.
Before the SUNRISE, Joshi must catch the elusive figure that destroys the lives of children.
Sunrise is a tragedy that tells a universal story of the loss of a child, of parental grief. The protagonist Joshi deeply troubled by the loss of his daughter and the eventual destruction of his family takes the spectator into an oneirophrenic space, right into the inner folds of his dreams, nightmares and memoria. The characters that inhabit this space are real people that he may have known in his life but they behave in a manner which maybe his own subjective vision or perception of them. The situations and scenes are sets of dissociated memories that he has experienced or imagined or that are, perhaps, as he would have liked them to happen. But like in dreams he is not the master of the narration and sometimes he too is lost inside them. Sometimes the other characters take command of the narration but in the end, like all tragedies, Joshi, the hero must take control and take us to the catharsis. Before the sunrise, Joshi must find the elusive figure that destroys the lives of children and so bring back his daughter to his lamenting wife and reconstruct the broken family.
There is a nervous and tense atmosphere of a psychological thriller in Sunrise. There is always darkness and haze surrounding the characters. The protagonist desperately wants to escape this space and take us towards the light. The dialogues are sparse and most is said with the eyes and the gaze. Joshi looks at the apathetic world around him that seems to not be concerned for its children, a world that does not care about the future but lives for today. Joshi is always watching the shadowy figure whose invisible gaze is in turn upon him. They play a cat and mouse game until the figure leads Joshi to his lair. The shots are long and the frame static; we wait for Joshi to enter the frame and thus his point of view becomes ours on him. The gaze shifts. There are lingering shots when he is with his ailing wife. They don’t say much to each other anymore but he loves her and cares for her, holding on to her physically and hoping they can reconnect mentally again.
Naina is the mirror image of Joshi’s daughter Aruna. The little girl is trapped inside the room where she watches the other girls who share her destiny, others who are mirror images of her in the future. And she is the mirror image of the past for the older girl, Komal. The camera stays close to her and watches her watching the others. There is a sense of confinement, as we with our protagonist never leave the room. She watches the world outside through the grilled window. One day she is hidden inside the dark false ceiling and through the crack she exchanges an unseen gaze with Joshi who happens to lead a raid to that brothel.
The chromatic scheme of the film is tilted towards colder colours and most interior spaces will be lit with neon tube lights (used commonly in Mumbai for room lighting). The greenish blue hues give the film a sense of alienation between the characters themselves and their surroundings, enforcing the feeling of antagonism between things that should have been in harmony. The streets are mainly lit up with orange hues from the sodium street lamps mixed with neon.
‘The lair’ or Paradise seems like a small and dingy building but once inside it is very hot and soon the chromatic scheme slowly changes from cold blue to red hot. The ambience inside is very sultry, and cathartic. And when Joshi finally comes face to face with the elusive figure, he purges the figure of the ill that it has committed… there is blood everywhere and there he finds his daughter blood stained crying as if she had just been born. Joshi takes her in his arms and leaves ‘the lair.’ And only at the end of the film when Joshi reunites his family do we see warm and saturated tones. We come out of the nightmare into a more photogenic atmosphere and the warmth that we dream in an ideal family.
Cinematographer, Jean-Marc Ferriere has extensive experience of working under difficult circumstances during the shooting of my first film that was also shot in Mumbai. Sunrise will be shot on multiple High Definition Single Lens reflex still cameras (HDSLR), adapted for cinematographic application. As darkness plays an important role in the film, the small size of the camera with ultra high sensitive sensors will bring a new liberty to shooting in very low light or even at night, giving us the possibility to shoot in areas of Mumbai where it would ordinarily be very difficult and expensive to shoot a film. This technology is already being used extensively in the West where a growing number of independent film-makers are opting for it, taking digital and independent cinema to a new level of autonomy.
The soundscape of Sunrise is a very important aspect in the creation of the oneiric ambiance of the film. Although we will be recording live-sync sound on location during shooting, I intend to work on the sound design with a sound editor either from India or from France (like in my first film). I would like to create an offset between the ‘real’ sound ambiance and the mental. Joshi can only hear certain sounds when he is following the figure, as if his conscious self had zoomed into what he is focused on. Minimalist music will specially composed by French Music director Eryck Abecassis for the film.
Sunrise will adorn some of India’s best acting talent, alumni of the National School of Drama with Adil Hussain (Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’, Italo Spinelli’s ‘Gangor’) and Tannishtha Chatterjee (Susie Gavron’s Brick Lane, Florian Gallenberger’s Shadows of Time, my ‘Let the Wind Blow’). There will also be a casting of child actors with whom I’ll be doing a workshop before the shooting. Some of whom I have already met and worked with while shooting the teaser trailer.
The most difficult and interesting characterisation of the film is the ‘figure’ whose face we never see until the end of the film when Joshi confronts him during the climax. The ‘figure’ is faceless, a demon born out of our deepest fears, an ‘Incubus’ that sits on your chest when you sleep and paralyses you with fear and paranoia. He steals the children and abuses them. I intend to work with a mime artist who will have the physical grace to appear unhumanlike.
In 2007, the Ministry of Woman and Child Development published the ‘Study on Child Abuse: India 2007′. It reveals that an alarming 53.22% of children in India reported having faced sexual abuse. (http://wcd.nic.in/childabuse.pdf). Nevertheless, the Indian Penal Code does not recognise child abuse as an offence and most offenders (local and foreign) escape with light sentences.
Sunrise despite its artistic feel will also be a film that provokes a debate about this taboo subject.