After refusing several offers, Rhea Pillai Dutt, wife of actor Sanjay Dutt, has finally signed a film.
Titled War Or Peace, the one-minute short film, shot on 35mm, aims to highlight the futility of violence.
"It seemed like such an appropriate subject to be a part of," says Rhea. "In today's tense and volatile situation, I am quite thrilled to be part of a film that puts across the fragility of life so simply. It was a great experience."
War Or Peace depicts a husband trying to rush his pregnant wife, who is in the throes of labour, to a hospital. An explosion kills the husband while the wife delivers a healthy baby.
The former model refuses to comment on whether she will act in any more films: "If you asked me whether I would act in a film a year ago, I would have said no. I am just taking things as they come."
Model and director Ritesh Sinha says Rhea believed in the cause and signed the film even though he had only made one short film before. "She liked the concept and that helped," he says. "The idea was to make a film in one minute. It had to deliver its message and get people thinking about the futility of violence and swiftness of death vis-a-vis the beauty of birth."
Sinha adds, "This film depicts what I think and perceive about life. I put it into a story because we are [working] in a medium that can reach out to people. We are aware of 9/11; then came Afghanistan; next came Godhra and now the Iraq war. The newspapers greet us with violence, international crises, and other sad news. I wondered why that was happening. The reason: declining tolerance level. Whenever there is any dispute, we resort to some sort of violence. A life is born with so much difficulty and we destroy it foolishly."
The crew of War Or Peace includes some of Bollywood's best technicians, including sound designer Nakul Kamte (Dil Chahta Hai) and editor Ballu Saluja (Lagaan).
Was it inspired by the war on Iraq? "Not exactly," says Sinha. "The idea had been hovering in my mind for the last couple of months."
Producer Samir Sheth, scion of Janmabhoomi Publications, says, "Ritesh's narrative compelled me to launch my own production house [for the film]. Also, to have my first film [screened] at the Cannes Film Festival is a thrill by itself."
War or Peace, which is listed in the short films category at Cannes, will also be shown on Indian television and in Japan, China, South Africa, and Hong Kong.
Seventy-eight prints of the film, produced by Sheth at a cost of Rs 1 million, have been sold, with Columbia Tristar, film financier Bharat Shah's VIP Films, and Manmohan Shetty's Fame Adlabs buying most of them.