Fresh off her participation in Michelle Obama’s Dear Class Of 2020 and Creators For Change global initiatives, India’s foremost female content creator, Prajakta Koli, who also goes by the moniker Mostly Sane is gearing up her debut in the cinematic ecosphere. Titled ‘Khayali Pulav’, the short film featuring Koli is written and directed by Tarun Dudeja and produced by One Digital Entertainment and releases on 9th July on her YouTube channel.
The Film releases at 6pm on her channel - https://youtu.be/8cMDYZUfW-A
Essaying the role of the lead female protagonist, Koli’s character is based on a 17-year-old small town girl who instead of focussing on her government school education, pursues a vocation in sports. The film navigates between her struggles as an amateur handball enthusiast to her triumph in breaking hoary stereotypes and traditional archetypes associated with womankind.
Set against the rural landscape of Haryana, the film was shot in real life locations with real life characters. Shot over two days in the remote village of Majri in the Jhajjar district, the film runs to a duration of 24 minutes. With grassroot level girl empowerment forming the crux of the narrative, the film subjectively touches upon themes like inevitability of freedom of choice, banishment of archaic prejudices and importance of street hustle.
Film and theatre actor Yashpal Sharma who has films like Lagaan, Ab Tak Chappan, Gangs of Wasseypur, Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi, Gangajal to his credit, plays the lead male protagonist of the film essaying the role of a sports teacher who further leverages Koli’s on-screen depiction.
Well known casting director Mukesh Chhabra, who also marks his directorial debut with late Sushant Singh Rajput’s last film Dil Bechara, has helmed the casting while Manoj Kumar Khatoi of Jawaani Janeman, Notebook, Mitron, Budhia Singh Born To Run fame is the DOP of the film.
Prajakta Koli states, “Growing up and then through my everyday interactions I noticed how prejudiced we are as a society when it comes to girls and women in general. With this film it’s my small contribution to the society at large to facilitate change at whatever level I can and influence mindsets positively. It’s amazing to essay this young girl who knows her dream is too scandalous for the dwelling she is raised in but her forward thinking temperament to rectify a generalized mindset has enabled her to become resilient and determined. The film is a beautiful reminder of how dreams, especially in small towns, are often realised through sports. It’s also a reminder of how precious the freedom to live your life the way you want to is, how even the seemingly simple act of being able to wear shorts becomes a complicated mission for a young girl. The act of being a sportsperson is her excuse to live as a free woman who isn’t defined by the opinion of others, and confidently dresses up in shorts baring her legs in a society that expects her to cover up.”
Tarun Dudeja, Director states, “Khayali Pulav is a common hindi phrase which loosely translates to ‘Flights of Fancy’. Usually building castles in the air tends to serve as an escape from the reality, which almost everyone engages in from time to time. In addition, the frequency of such indulgences increases furthermore when the oppression, discrimination and abuse are although more apparent. Being born and brought up in one of the towns in Haryana, India where patriarchy is the accepted norm and tradition is associated with the women staying behind the veil, I would come across by subtle acts of resistance to oppression every now and then. In the conservative society women just seize at whatever semblance of freedom could be contained within the constraints of the society but mostly it is aimed at freedom. Be it freedom to express themselves, or choose their partner, or wear the clothes of their choice. For these women, these little acts make their lives more bearable in an intolerant institution. They fight in their quiet ways and refuse to become victims of the circumstances. Their spirits remain uncrushed and they win a certain degree of independence for themselves. The film honors such women and is a tribute to them”.
Gurpreet Singh, Founder, One Digital Entertainment states, “Prajakta’s dedication and commitment to her work is something that amazes me. She is someone who is immensely passionate about her work and likes to immerse herself completely in whatever project she takes on. From spending a couple of days prior to the shoot in the village, to understand the mannerism of an average teenage girl from the rural areas of North India to taking diction lessons, her preparation for the role has been astounding and it shows on screen as well. She is known for her comedic sketches however this film will shed a whole different side of Prajakta that not many have seen previously”.
Mukesh Chhabra states, “This film is a very sweet take on women’s empowerment at a very basic level. Things that we take for granted can also be a challenge for many people, which it is in most rural places in India. The honesty of the film’s messaging is what attracted me to it. I have always admired Prajakta’s content and like her approach to creating content and the various things she does to bring about positive change in the society. The way she portrays her characters through her sketches, they always manage to bring a smile on my face”.
With over 5.4 million subscribers on YouTube and over 2.2 million followers on Instagram, Prajakta Koli aka MostlySane is a household name acknowledged for narrating relatable comic skits that have a strong connect with viewers. Known for being an active campaigner for socially relevant youth centric issues, she tackled subjects like body image and online bullying with “Shameless” as part of her campaign #iPledgeToBeMe which she launched on World Mental Health Day in 2016. Being a global ambassador for YouTube's Creators For Change, she threw light on trolling, female subjugation and homophobia through “No Offence” which was showcased on International Tolerance Day at the United Nations headquarters in New York. In 2018 Prajakta was seen in WhatsApp’s first ever TVC which addressed the importance of not spreading fake news. Later in the same year she partnered with YouTube for Social Impact Girl’s Education campaign, with Instagram on their Safer Internet Week campaign and One.org for their Girl Education campaign. In 2019 she was invited by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their annual Goalkeepers Summit. Recently India’s foremost female content creator announced Pretty Fit, a light-hearted six-episode fitness-based chat show featuring Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sanya Malhotra, Malishka Mendonsa, Mithila Palkar, Neha Kakkar, Sumukhi Suresh. Being one of the first creators in the world to interview American technology veteran, Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, Pretty Fit also marked a first for the 25-year-old digital superstar who will become India’s first content creator to have her own YouTube Originals. Prajakta was part of Unite a 24 live streamathon organised by Call to Unite and Room To Read to promote education amongst children during this pandemic and included global personalities like George Bush, Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner and many more!