"An encountering journey with Avantika Khattri- For All That You Are”

Updated: Jul 17, 2019

In a nutshell: The game changer in Indian cinema, the famous personality, the voice and face that everyone looks up to, especially whenever someone brings about the topic of LGBT. But it all didn’t begin that way, and this journey – starting from scratch to reach the peaks of success – is nothing short of inspirational.

Avantika Khattri is an actress and director, known for “For All That You Are” (2018), “Kuch Kuch Locha Hai” (2015) and “War Chhod Na Yaar” (2013). She made her acting debut with the film ’War Chhod Na Yaar’ alongside Sharman Joshi, Soha Ali Khan and Javed Jaffrey and has been part of numerous projects since. She has even featured in an album “Bottoms Up” as a lead actress with Mika Singh. The new wave in Indian cinema has brought society’s harsh truth out in the open and it has happened because of the courageous new filmmakers our country has produced. Actor turned Director, Avantika Khattri is one such new-age filmmaker who with her directorial debut ‘For All That You Are’ has taken the digital space by storm. She portrays the lead in ’For All That You Are’ which is also her second outing as a producer under the banner Mad Hatters and has heaped praise from fans all over the nation. The short film has just released on Hungama Play and is also available for the fans on various digital platforms which have engaged a wide base of the audience who were short of words to shower their love and gratitude.

When asked Avantika Khattri about what inspires her to create a short film on such a stereotypical topic involving the bold LGBTQ community? Without any hesitation, she replied, “If you look around yourself, each person has issues of their own as an individual or as a society. But I feel that the LGBTQ community is facing way more problems to come out in the open and talk about it. A day before yesterday I got an anonymous call that a guy who has committed suicide because he was a gay, and things that he has written in his suicide note is heartbreaking- The title on that note said ‘God why you made me like this?’ so people are going through a lot and the ultimate problem remains for these people is ‘Acceptance’. Straight people are not ready to accept that once can be Gay or Lesbian, in other words, anyone can have other sexual preferences too. I wanted to speak for this community and address their problems and i chose this short film to be the medium.”

Next question was asked about the problems in general, which were faced by Avantika and her team during the production and post-production period of the short film? “Production, Post- production? NO! But while distribution and taking this short film to different movie festivals just to provide it with the platform it deserves, I have faced tremendous problems. The first question which always arose was what is the need to make a movie on this topic? Why make a movie on this subject? You (Interviewer) asked me the same question but out of curiosity but when they asked me it was out of nowhere, it was because others were feeling offensive. And all I couldn’t figure out was why and how this topic can be offensive when I am generally trying to put out some issues which are happening and seen in society? Though there were people who appreciated my short film and supported it as they were in a minority.” Says Avantika Khattri. Continuing sharing her experience about this short film Avantika added,” I was asked to play the lead role- as a protagonist by the writer of this short film; so when you have a content like this a script and visual may vary, which is very normal but here, in this case, a lot of things happened altogether that needed to be resolved and then I took a decision to direct it. During post-production, people were sceptical that with such a bold topic one cannot go beyond a particular boundary and it’s a very taboo subject. I approached this film to a well-known company and they responded to me saying “WE WANT TO PLAY SAFE- we can’t show such thing on our channel.” And I was thrilled by the answer which said “PLAY SAFE” I mean what’s not to be safe about in this short film? Supreme Court has already declared section 377 legal, and as a nation, we have accepted it. Thus, distribution for the short film remained the toughest job to do.” When asked Avantika Khattri about what were the expectations from society accepting the thought behind the short film? “We never wanted our film to just remain critically acclaimed. We wanted it to reach to the audience and hoped that they’d like it. But the kind of amazing response we’ve got from the audience was never expected. The kind of reviews and acclamation we’ve received are very overwhelming and I’m ecstatic that we could manage this with ’For All That You Are’. I’m thankful to the audience for the love they’ve showered upon us and hope they continue to like our content.” Exulted the actress turned director Avantika Khattri. Last but not the least apart from her movie what can be done to clear out the taboo- ‘fear of homosexuality’? “We need to address bullies and educate instead of just spreading awareness within LGBTQ communities. LGBTQ here is the victims of others judgment, so if the culprit is properly addressed (Bullies) and we stop them then the whole cycle of judgment stops there. And as we speak of the fear of homosexuality, people call this a disease but I don’t understand how loving someone is a disease? It’s very offensive and people should stop calling out it that instead accept it as love” ‘For All That You Are’ has already won multiple international awards and is still creating a lot of buzz at various film festivals. Avantika's second short film For All That You Are as a producer and also her debut directorial - won the Best LGBTQ Film award at the Top Shorts International Film Festival. The film, which has Avantika playing the protagonist, is a revenge drama revolving around two female ex-lovers. She was chosen as the Best Actress in an Indie Film in Actors Award at Los Angeles; the Best Woman Filmmaker at The IndieFEST Film Awards (US) and the Best Actress-Leading at Accolade Global Film Competition (US). The film also won the award for the Best Short at the Mediterranean Film Festival and Best Short at Canada Shorts Film Festival. Avantika walked the Red Carpet at the 71st Cannes Film Festival where For All That You Are was screened in the Short Film Corner. Avantika Khattri has been heaping a lot of praise for both her performance as an actor and as a director giving the industry a glimpse of what she holds in store.

_Prachi Gandhi

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