Kalki Koechlin, Deepti Naval Star in Dementia Focused Busan Selection ‘Goldfish’

Cinematographer Pushan Kripalani returns to the director’s chair with Goldfish, seven years after his acclaimed directorial debut “The Threshold.”

In the film, Anamika, a half-Indian half-English woman, returns home to the U.K. to deal with her mother’s dementia and the scars of her childhood. The cast includes Kalki Koechlin (“Sacred Games”), veteran Deepti Naval (“The Good Karma Hospital”), Gordon Warnecke (“Venus”), Rajit Kapur (“Rocket Boys”) and Bharti Patel (“The Undeclared War”).

“It’s very difficult to make independent cinema, as it does not get funded easily and so it’s taken me this long to get to make this film. I feel that dealing with larger questions is only possible by examining the smaller parts of human relationships. I feel that my job is to further the human conversation and this was a wonderful way to attempt to do that,” Kripalani told Variety.

“Dementia is also going to be one of the greatest concerns in the next decade or two. I think everybody will soon have if they haven’t already had a contact with someone with this condition,” adds Kripalani.

Naval told Variety: “It didn’t take me much to research for this role because I’ve known somebody with dementia – it is part of my personal experience. I’ve known someone close to me suffering from dementia. So when I read the role, I thought here’s my chance to interpret something that I’ve known closely.”

“Dementia is a very common condition of old age. So it’s not something rare or out of the ordinary – we see it all around,” adds Naval. “It is something we’ve known in the elderly people around us, it’s not something hard to imagine. It’s from observing life around us. It’s from knowing the elderly in our family and knowing how their behavior patterns could vary from us.”

Koechlin says that she didn’t know anyone with dementia, but the writer of “Goldfish,” Arghya Lahiri, whose father suffered from it, spent many hours recollecting stories for her.

“The main prep I did for this role was work on an Oxford/Cambridge accent as Anamika’s father was a British university professor and she is a London-born Indian. Apart from this Pushan’s particular way of shooting without cuts, and with two cameras rolling at the same time meant we had to rehearse and rehearse the scenes many times till we got the flow of the entire scene,” Koechlin told Variety.

Kripalani, who finds the twin tasks of shooting and directing complementary, said that he set the film in the U.K. for a reason. “When one examines the question of identity it’s clearer when one has some distance from it. The Indian population in the U.K. is very well integrated into mainstream society. So there’s an interesting tension between what we consider the Indian identity and the British Indian identity – they influence each other culturally,” says Kripalani. “The nature of being far away from India and in the U.K. gave me some insight into examining what we might consider the idea of Indian identity. Being in the U.K., far from India helped me see India and the idea of India in sharp relief.”

The film is produced by first time producer Amit Saxena for U.S.-based Splendid Films. “As soon as I read the synopsis of the film, I knew this was going to be my first film as a producer. The women-centric theme was one of the big draws for me, along with the immigrant aspects as I myself am an immigrant and relate to some of the nuances in the film,” Saxena told Variety.

“Goldfish,” which premieres at Busan on Friday (Oct. 7), will also play at London’s Raindance Film Festival. Next up for Kripalani is a spy thriller he is writing with Lahiri.

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