What goes into making a documentary? Sunlight, any well known Hindi film song, an activity, even if it is just a haircut at the local salon, a video camera, and Koku. I thought the last would be the easiest. My own brother. I’d known him all my life. He’d known me most of his. Point a camera. Shoot. Edit. The documentary would be done. I was wrong. The last was the most difficult. He was hard to pin down. Harder still to get straight answers from. Which was a great thing, I realized later, because those moments in which he is resisting the camera are the moments which bring out his character fully and make the viewer aware of the strength of his personality.
I may be a student of filmmaking , but he made me aware that at the end of the day I was just the same pesky younger sister who had no right to interfere with his TV watching - documentary or no documentary. At the same time, there were moments where he forgot both camera and camera person and spoke directly to his sister. I asked him questions which I would never have asked him otherwise, questions that I wouldn’t even have known existed in my mind or needed answers at all. As we talked, with the camera rolling away, the invisible, unconscious walls between us came down and with it also all those power structures that existed between us - sister and brother with Down syndrome, filmmaker and subject. He interviewed me as much as I did him, spoke of things that affected me deeply, made me laugh, made me cry, provoked, challenged, inspired me. For the first time in twenty three years, we shared secrets. It was not easy to realize that he is not always the happy, cheerful, light hearted and simple person we see him as. That he too, has dark memories stowed away inside, awareness of his own shortcomings, desires that he realizes will not be fulfilled. He too, is like every single one of us. That realization, is both painful and profound.
Not everything is in the film because not everything needs to be. The final half an hour was one way of presentation, a glimpse into his world. But what remains with me is the journey. Not just those twenty three years of my life that I have spent ‘researching’ this documentary, but also those two weeks of intense involvement in every aspect of Koku Bhaiya's life which revealed worlds inside him that I am privileged to have been let into. No, Ghazab ka hai Din wasn’t so easy to make. But at the end of the day, it was totally worth it.