What does it mean to be a diasporic Indian?
Shuchi Kothari, Associate Professor in Media and Communication at the University of Auckland, explores this in three short films which will be shown at the Auckland Art Gallery on 12 November.
Dr Kothari is an Indian New Zealander from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, who has lived in Auckland for over 20 years. She teaches screen production at the University of Auckland and has written award-winning films such as Firaaq, Apron Strings, and Coffee & Allah.
Among Dr Kothari’s three films screening at the Art Gallery is her directorial debut Shit One Carries. “My labour of love,” she says.
The 17-minute film, directed and written by Dr Kothari, deals with Avi, a middle-aged Silicon Valley engineer, who returns briefly to his childhood home in India to care for his bedridden father. Their prickly relationship is in contrast to the warmth Amrutdada shares with all his professional caregivers especially Natthu – a young attendant responsible for wiping bottoms and bedpans.
One afternoon, everything goes out of kilter when Amrutdada has diarrhoea and Natthu is not on call. Avi panics. He tries desperately to get someone – anyone – to clean up after his father.
“When forced to perform the unpleasant task himself, Avi realises that to clean his father’s shit, he must let go of his own crap,” says Dr Kothari.
Her other films screening are: Fleeting beauty – about an Indian woman giving her Pakeha lover an unusual history lesson with more than a hint of spice, and Clean Linen set in the summer of ’84 when a nine-year-old Kiwi-Indian boy discovers a family secret only to realise that some things don’t come out in the wash.