Published: 29th June 2021
Dhaai Peher: How five Jamia students recreated Punjab from the 90s on campus to shoot a film during lockdown
The film Dhaai Peher is based on a story that is set in Punjab in the 1990s. The location was recreated inside the Jamia campus
The 2020 lockdown had just begun to ease in Delhi. Sometime in October, five students of Jamia Millia Islamia - Amal Devasia, Danish Qazi, Kashif Shakeel, Jamshaid Ali and Pankaj Rawat - were back on campus to get one final task done. They had to shoot a film, their graduation project, which had gotten delayed due to COVID and the lockdown.
The film, Dhaai Peher, eventually got made. Remarkably, it has gone on to win several awards, including the 'Outstanding Achievement' award at the L'Age d'Or International Art-house Film Festival (LIAFF). The team is quite elated, while admitting that the journey hasn't really been easy.
"I wrote the film's story. It is set in Punjab in the 1990s. While we initially thought that we could go there and shoot, the lockdown had toppled all our plans," says Amal. With the pandemic yet to be contained, they decided to make the best with what they had. "So we had no option other than shooting it inside our university," he says.This may have seemed like a bummer initially, but Amal says that the architecture inside Jamia certainly helped.
This wasn't the only challenge. "We had to recreate the 1990s and the early 2000s. We had a tough time sourcing the objects from those days, including the old TV and the video game cartridges," he says. "Also, a child essays an important role here. But no one was ready to let children act at that time," he says. However, luckily, the lead actor of the film had a son and he eventually played the role. "This was a blessing. Them being father and son in real-life escalated the impact," says Amal.
The team behind the film
Thanks to Jamia's well-equipped studio, Amal says that the team was able to bring the film's budget down to somewhere around one lakh rupees. "We used the cameras and lights that our university had. We only had to pay the actors," he says. Talking about the story and the theme, Amal says that he was inspired by the events of violence and encounters that occurred in various parts of the country, over the years. "During my time in Jamia, I got to interact with people from places like Kashmir and I wanted to tell the stories of those people who got killed in encounters, despite being innocent. That was what led to the film's scripting," he says.