The short film Aaba, shot entirely in Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh, is the only film from India to premier at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival 2017. Directed by Amar Kaushik and co-produced by Alison Welly under Space Miracle Studios, Itanagar, the film is based on an Apatani tribe story on love and approaching death, which was narrated to Amar by his mother when he was a child.
Amar spent his childhood in Arunachal Pradesh, and hence the film is special to him. The story is about an old Apatani couple and their lives with their orphaned granddaughter who lives with them. The Aaba team comprises Raj Kumar Gupta and Mitul Dixit; the co-producers are Onir and Alison Welly.
Some memories during the making of the film in Ziro from the Instagram account of Amar Kaushik
Some trivia about Aaba:
1. Aaba is in Apatani dialect.
2. The lead roles are played by non-actors from the Apatani tribe, who obviously did not know how to act.
3. Communication was a challenge initially, as they did not understand the crew’s language, nor did the crew understand the Apatani dialect.
4. Getting to Ziro and looking for the perfect place to shoot took more time than anticipated. Suresh Mathew, a journalist and a producer, and also Amar’s friend travelled all the way to Ziro to help Amar.
5. Convincing Dani Randa, the 80-year old non-actor who plays the grandfather, and winning his confidence was quite a task for Amar.
6. There are more sounds than dialogues in the movie, because dialogues made the story lose its essence. Amar went back to his imagination to create the beautiful stories through sounds.
Overall, while Aaba is a beautiful love story, it also depicts the painful wait for death. The pain of waiting for your loved one to be let go of the pain and the life after that.