AgraDirected by Kanu Behl
Cast: Mohit Agarwal, Prinyanka Bose, Rahul Roy
Official Selection, 2023 Director’s Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival
Official Selection, 2023 Busan International Film Festival
Best Indie Film and Best Actor, 2023 Indian Film Festival of Melbourne
There is a dysfunctional family living in an old house in Agra, India, where the famous Taj Mahal is located. The father, Prakash “Daddy Ji” (an unrecognizable Rahul Roy), has secretly sold this house with a plan to start a new life with his mistress. The mother, Mummy Ji, wants to run a dental clinic, while desperately keeping the family business together. The son, Guru, suffers from his mother’s overprotection and his own relentless lust. Guru’s cousin Mala gets entangled in a relationship with her ex-boyfriend. When Guru bumps into Priti, a crippled widow who runs an internet cafe, sexual frustration collides with class ambitions, and secrets begin to unwrap.
In his second feature, filmmaker Kanu Behl tackles masculinity in crisis through an explicit critique of economic development and gentrification in India. Father and son struggle to maintain their identities and lose themselves in the machinery of sexual anxiety. The women meanwhile make smarter choices despite the pressure and mistreatment from the men around them. With the structure of a family melodrama, AGRA juxtaposes the libidinal and economic hunger of people living in a transforming city. As new buildings go up, is the dream of a stable home an escape – or a trap?
– Wentao Ma