That Ivan Ayr is a filmmaker to keep an eye on, is no secret. His film, Soni an impressive debut that talks about two policewomen combating harassment and gender expectations was selected for the Horizon’s Cometitions Section at this year’s Venice Film Festival. Earlier on in life, even though Ivan cherished any opportunity to write, the idea that he would be making films one day wasn’t an ambition Ivan always hungered after. His formal education is in Electrical Engineering post which he chose to read English Literature, direction and screenwriting. Infact his first short film, Lost & Found was purely incidental. ‘During my screenwriting & direction course, my bicycle that I used to ride everyday got stolen. It might sound silly but I was gutted. I kept trying to find it online, but I eventually realized it was a pointless exercise.’ Ivan decided to channel all his grief into a short script about a man who finds the thief of his stolen bicycle, and decides not to go to the police but steal it back from the thief. ‘I wasn’t too sure yet of my ability as a director since I had just begun my learning, but I had to make that film for my own healing. I shot it with small crew of four people over a period of three days. The film didn’t quite pan out the way I expected, but there was a joy in making the journey from imagining an idea to expressing it artistically using a craft that stayed with me’. So Ivan marched on with his learning. His second short was, Quest for a Different Outcome which he wrote and directed in 2014.
STILL FROM SONI
Soni is an unflinching and honest account of what goes on in a Police Station. The film’s narrative centres around a policewoman and her superintendent, who have stepped up to curtail a crisis of violent crimes against women. However, their alliance suffers a major setback when Soni is transferred out for alleged misconduct on duty. Soni’s professional life is further strained by certain developments in her personal life, when she is forced to deal with the sudden arrival of her estranged husband. ‘It was particularly my intent that the job of a policewoman is recognized by the viewer for what it is - categorically unglamorous, demanding, not to mention hopelessly frustrating,’ Ivan tells me. Ivan has captured and portrayed their experiences in a manner which highlighted the moral quandaries of certain judgement calls made in the heat of a moment. Ivan had a few particular notions in mind that he wanted to break through this film. ‘I want to put out they are intelligent but flawed - searching for answers themselves as they look for a footing in their professional lives. Further that, like most human beings, they’re not immune to emotional setbacks, especially when their existence is undermined, or simply overlooked, setting up perfectly habitable conditions for loneliness and pessimism.’
Text Hansika Lohani Mehtani
STILL FROM SONI