Director Kanu Behl’s latest film, “Agra,” is set to have its world premiere at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, where it will be screened in the Directors’ Fortnight section. Known for his critically acclaimed debut feature, “Titli,” Behl aims to delve into the theme of sexual repression, a subject often overlooked in Indian cinema.
In an interview, Behl expressed his desire to address the unspoken issue of sexual repression prevalent in Indian society. He wanted to explore the impact of repressed sexuality on physical spaces and how those spaces, in turn, affect individuals’ sexual lives. The film revolves around Guru, a young call center employee trapped between societal expectations, his own desires, and the pressures of his family. As the story unfolds, Guru embarks on a journey of self-discovery, gradually unraveling the complexities of his own psyche.
Behl, having previously assisted acclaimed director Dibakar Banerjee, brings his unique perspective to the exploration of sexual repression. He believes that the silence surrounding this issue stems from the existence of public, personal, and secret lives in every individual. These hidden aspects of one’s life, which often remain undisclosed, form the basis of his narrative.
While “Agra” shares similarities with Behl’s previous work in its exploration of human struggles, it presents a distinct portrayal of individuals rather than a traditional family unit. Behl challenges the mainstream narrative of emotional advertising in films, where everything is resolved neatly by the end. Instead, he aims to present a more nuanced reflection of life, drawing from the truths and realities of society.
The film features a talented cast, including Mohit Agarwal, Priyanka Bose, Vibha Chhibber, Anchal Goswami, and the renowned Rahul Roy. Behl commended Roy’s commitment to the project, as the actor found a personal connection to the character and dedicated himself to an extensive three-month workshop.
As an artist, Behl believes in reflecting the inherent misogyny and patriarchy ingrained in society through his films. While each narrative explores different themes, the cultural and political context of the stories inevitably highlights these issues.
“Agra” promises to be a thought-provoking film that delves into the depths of sexual repression, offering a candid portrayal of the human psyche. Through his cinematic vision, Kanu Behl endeavors to shed light on a topic that is often shrouded in silence, inviting audiences to confront and contemplate the effects of suppressed desires in society.
As the Cannes Film Festival continues to showcase exceptional filmmaking talent, “Agra” stands as a significant contribution, addressing a seldom-discussed aspect of human experience and expanding the boundaries of Indian cinema.