Unseen Realities

Indian director Karan Tejpal presents his Stolen in Horizons
by Maria Casadei
  • thursday, 31 august 2023

Indian director and screenwriter with decades of experience in the film industry, Karan Tejpal, for the first time in Venice, presents in Horizons Stolen, which deliberately embraces a raw and direct style of truth cinema to bring to light the unseen realities that shape our society.

What inspired you to write Stolen? How does it differ from your previous works?
The film is inspired by real events. The story of the Bansal brothers in Stolen is inspired by an incident that took place in 2018 in Assam. Two men were violently attacked and lynched at the hands of an enraged crowd who had mistakenly understood them to be kidnappers based on falsified videos that tore through communities via WhatsApp. That incident was the first seed of the story and characters. I am very alarmed by the news incident, and the changing face of reality that I see in the world around me. I saw myself in the two young men who were lynched in Karbi Anglong. They were young travelers, and their sense of adventure took them to a place with which they were unfamiliar and perhaps stood out due to their relative privilege. I feel this incident gave an opportunity to explore this idea of the ‘court of public opinion’ that seems to be a rampant concern the world over. Within the story there is opportunity to feel empathy and frustration on both sides. The story allowed me to explore the truth of human beings as complex and contrary beings, and that no person can so easily be cast as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

STOLEN

STOLEN

In a remote railway station in India, a newborn is taken from its mother, a poor woman living in a tribal area. Two brothers witness the fact and decide, together with the woman, to look for the kidnapped baby. As they travel, the already tense relationship between the two men...

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STOLEN

STOLEN

In a remote railway station in India, a newborn is taken from its mother, a poor woman living in a tribal area. Two brothers witness the fact and decide, together with the woman, to look for the kidnapped baby. As they travel, ...

READ

At the beginning of the movie, you wrote: “There are two disparate Indias.” Can you please explain to us what you mean?
What truly What truly inspires me is the opportunity to craft stories from the contrasting world that surrounds me – a world that can at times be unforgivingly brutal, yet also incredibly humbling in its portrayal of humanity. Everytime I look around I see the vulnerabilities faced by those without power and the gradual erosion of trust in our established social systems. In our expansive and diverse nation, a stark demarcation emerges between the privileged few, who wield overwhelming power, and the vast majority, who find themselves disempowered. These are the distinct dichotomies I allude to as the “two disparate Indias.” Stolen starts with the collision of the two parts and ends with them coming together to achieve a common goal.

How would you describe the relationship between the two brothers? How and why does it change during the quest?
The relationship between the two brothers is slightly strained at the beginning of the story. Their differing views of the world causes an estrangement that is often seen between siblings. The relationship starts to change after a major inciting incident which shakes Gautam’s core and opens him up to the harsh but true words of his brother. When the trio comes under attack by outside forces one realizes that the fraternal bond is strong and it is clear that both care for each other in a deep emotional manner and will support one another through thick and thin.

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