Interview by Andreea Boyer // Edited by Chris Charles of Idol Features
Sumit Agarwal’s Dhumkkudiya is his debut as a film producer. The film is a powerful drama that tells the story of a girl who is promised the chance to train as a field hockey player, but instead is forced to became a domestic servant, where she is subject to repeated abuse. The film has already received several nominations and winning awards from prominent international film festivals.
Andreea Boyer: Where are you from and what can you tell us about yourself?
Sumit Agarwal: At the outset, let me first thank you for showing this interest in my movie and joining hands to eradicate this disease of human trafficking. This is my maiden venture in film production and maybe a turning point in my life with which I can strive to work to attain my purpose in life. Since childhood, suffering in all its forms, has always had an impact on me and I have repeatedly questioned that, we as humans, why do we not do anything about it unless it happens to our own selves!? Searching for some method, I joined Pranic Healing and since then, by God’s grace, have helped people through this miraculous form of energy therapy. I am a certified Pranic Healing instructor and therapist. I am also a member of various Pranic Healing societies and am grateful to be a 8 degree holder of ASTARA, California. I run a few businesses in Kolkata, India to make ends meet, but my heart is with the social causes. One of my achievements in life is co-authoring two books; The Book of Life and Owner of a Lonely Heart, and for this and my healings, I have been awarded doctorate in literature by St. Mother Teresa Virtual University For Peace And Education, accredited by World Sign JBR Harvard, USA and affiliated to Cambridge School of Distance Education, UK. I have a strong drive to do something for the society and have chosen to finance this movie for this very reason. It is my vision that every female of every country should know the name of the movie Dhumkkudiya and be aware of the perils shown in it.
Andreea Boyer: Have you been working in the film industry mainly in your country or also somewhere else around the globe?
Sumit Agarwal: Yes, this is my maiden venture and have started out in India, but with human trafficking prevalent across the globe, I wish to reach out to similar minded people to take up socially conscious projects in various countries. Cinema has the magic of opening eyes and transforming lives and with this medium, I aspire to make more content driven, socially relevant films and present them throughout our planet.
Andreea Boyer: How did you start your career as a filmmaker and what has your motivation and inspiration been?
Sumit Agarwal: On one of my business trips to Jharkhand, a state in India, I happened to come across a director who has been working on a real life story for almost a decade, trying to bring to light facts and figures of girls from the tribal areas of India, who are trafficked and sold to various parts of the country. On meeting with the director and hearing about the plight of such girls and reading various articles and UN reports, I was so moved that I immediately decided to turn into a producer, make this film and reach out to million such girls and make them aware of this heinous activity!
Andreea Boyer: When did you start with your career as a filmmaker and has filmmaking always been your main focus?
Sumit Agarwal: Since this is my first film, I am very new in this industry and am still learning the ropes. I wish in my lifetime to make at least 10 socially relevant and impactful movies.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about the cast and story from your movie Dhumkkudiya?
Sumit Agarwal: The cast selection was a pain point in the movie. We wanted authentic actors who could identify with the agony, who have lived these moments in their actual lives. Having some big known industry faces would have spoiled the feel of the film and thus to find the perfect protagonist and antagonist was a challenging task for us. We had initially cast another actress as the protagonist, but since she didn’t bring the rural tribal feel to the movie we had to change her in spite of filming at least 25% of the movie. The main cast is the protagonist played by Rinkal Kachhap and the antagonist, played by Pradhuman Nayak. Rajesh Jais, Subrat Dutta, Vinod Anand, Padamshri Mukund Nayak, Nandlal Nayak, Chandra Shekhar Dutta, Geeta Guha and Naina Dungdung play key roles.
The story of the film Dhumkkudiya is based on true events, where a family is devastated by human trafficking. It is the tale of one such tribal girl; Rishu, who aspires to be a field hockey player, but is instead trafficked to Delhi as a domestic helper. Here she is repeatedly raped and is stunned into silence. She manages to escape to return to her village, but here she is met with a bigger explosion. Dhumkkudiya encompasses the journey of this innocent girl from her serene and pious village to the horrific urban society.
Andreea Boyer: Where did you film your movie?
Sumit Agarwal: The movie was filmed primarily in Jharkhand to give the authentic city meets tribal feel to it. Jharkhand is endowed with a rich landscape, which is captured in the film. Rare celebrations of the tribal life is also showed here. Some portions of the movie are filmed in Meerut, while some in the capital city of Delhi.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about your other work?
Sumit Agarwal: This is my maiden film, I hope to be able to give you a reply to this is a few years. Other works, as mentioned above, I have co-authored two books and am working on a third titled; In Love with Love.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about your best experiences and which moments in your career have been the most influential ones for you?
Sumit Agarwal: My best experience has been when everything I owned was taken away from me due to family disputes. It gave me the opportunity to re-learn, to think again for myself, to grow, to meet new contacts, to risk starting new businesses, to come out from the family umbrella and make a name for myself. It was a very trying time but am very thankful for it. It gave me a new life!
Andreea Boyer: Which moments on the film-set have been the most difficult ones for you?
Sumit Agarwal: The writing was the easiest, since the film is based on a true story. The cast selection was a big task and of course, finances were a problem. I have put in all my earnings in this movie.
Andreea Boyer: What is your advise for all young independent filmmakers on how they should work on their goals and reach the best audience for their individual work?
Sumit Agarwal: The most important thing according to me is to be answerable for your work. Respect the medium, understand its power, and use it to create more meaningful, impactful, and relevant projects. Your work speaks for itself. Let the work be so good that people are forced to watch it.
Thank you, Mr Agarwal. We wish you continued success.
See more of Sumit Agarwal’s works at his IMDb page.