For a single woman, finding a flat to rent in Mumbai is as good as winning a lottery—as filmmaker Reema Sengupta, 27, knows all too well. Sengupta was studying in London when her father told her mother, Surekha, that she’d have to find her own place.
“She is an extremely educated and independent woman who had actually been in charge of the house
financially for a long time,” says Sengupta. “Suddenly, she was scrambling to find a house and nobody would give it to her because her husband wasn’t by her side.” The daughter’s anger and frustration fuelled the script for her third short film, Counterfeit Kunkoo, which will vie for the international narrative short prize at the Sundance Film Festival later this month.
Starring Malayali actor Kani Kusruti and Vijay Varma (last seen in the film, Monsoon Shootout), the film was produced by her mother, who earns a living as a past life regression therapist.
It’s the story of a woman’s search for a house of her own after she leaves her abusive husband.
It also addresses the issue of marital rape—still legal in India and a handful of other countries.
Kunkoo is the Marathi word for the red bindi married women wear. But here the title alludes to a marriage “that has lost all meaning and only functions in a simulacrum”, says Sengupta. “What I really wanted to do is to make cinema that contributes to social change.” Sengupta is now developing a feature script.