Horrific stories of ragging, especially of a student who was made to strip and dance naked every night, and even raped by his seniors, filled Sarkar writer Manish Gupta with rage. It has now taken the form of his debut film Hostel, which shows the extent to which ragging can affect an individual's life.
Gupta has written and helmed Hostel.
"The idea for Hostel was born some 17 years ago when I was studying engineering in Mumbai. I met a boy from Manipal College, who was made to dance in the nude every night to entertain his sadistic and pervert seniors. He was raped by his male seniors every night as part of ragging," Gupta told IANS.
"This story filled in me so much rage that I can still feel it. Even now I've only been reading cases of boys and girls dying, getting crippled and committing suicide as a result of sadistic harassment that is meted out to them in their hostels as a part of ragging."
"The statistics are staggering and the most depressing part is our society's doctors and engineers who are responsible for this. Finally, I could not take it more and my rage boiled over and took the shape of Hostel," he added.
Hostel is a film about a student, played by actor Vatsal Seth, who enters a notorious hostel and is ragged by his seniors. Even though a fiction, it is based on a string of true incidents.
Gupta, who has been in the industry since 2005 and has directed films like Darna Zaroori Hai and The Stoneman Murders, had initially approached Shahid Kapur for the film, but the actor had refused to be a part of the project.
"I had first approached Shahid Kapur to play the protagonist in the film, but he refused to hear the script after knowing the concept. I guess he was not interested in playing a boy, who is stripped naked and paraded around in the college," revealed Gupta.
"Then I approached Kunal Khemu who was downright rude to me. I also approached Shreyas Talpade who too turned down the role. Then, I discovered Vatsal Seth who I think is a perfect cast for the role," he added.
The film that also stars Tulip Joshi is slated to hit screens on January 14 and was completed in 24 days.
Though the director, who has also written films like Sarkar, was passionate about this film, his dream was fulfilled only after facing several problems.
"There were many challenges that I faced while making this film, the budget primarily. Then the reluctance of the male actors to do nude scenes, rape scenes and molestation scenes, which have a homosexual/bisexual nature, was another problem. But finally we overcame all odds," he informed.
Even the film is an issue-based project, the director isn't scared that people might think it to be just another preachy film.
"It depends on how the message has been tackled in the film. If the protagonist starts giving a lecture in the end, like in Ram Gopal Varma's Rann, then people don't appreciate it."
"But if the message is packaged smartly inside the film's scenes, then people actually appreciate it and it also brings about a social change," said Gupta.
Despite various campaigns and strict measures, ragging in educational institutes is still a rampant practice.