Child abuse victim conveys his trauma through Onir’s ‘I AM’

Mumbai, May 1 (Calcutta Tube) Hyderabad-based designer Ganesh Nallari’s personal life has inspired a segment in gay filmmaker Onir’s film ‘I Am’ and he praises the director for conveying the message with sensitivity.

‘Yes, ‘Abhimanyu’ is based on my experiences I shared with Onir; the emotion behind my self-acceptance and forgiveness. My abuser passed away early last year, that was when I poured my heart to Onir,’ said Nallari.

Sanjay Suri plays the abused child who grows up to be a sexually and emotionally confused character, while filmmaker Anurag Kashyap plays the abusive uncle.

‘Initially, I was a little apprehensive about talking about it openly, but I realize that if I want a change, I need to be the change…and glad Onir conveyed the message with utmost sensitivity.

‘I was conscious about my personal and professional lives converging, but again it’s the creative professional life which gave me the strength to overcome my abuse. I painted and danced all through my abuse. After watching the movie at Onir’s office, I was reassured that I have to talk and stand for the cause and not let the darkest secret of my life die within…Yes! Awareness matters! And not to forget, though none from my family knew about my abuse, my parents have always been fabulous and supportive all my life,’ he added.

Nallari will now be known as Abhimanyu the name of the character in Onir’s film.

‘It was during the preview in Hyderabad that someone in the crowd addressed me as Abhimanyu and I responded subconsciously…It’s ‘Ganesh Nallari’ (my creative side) which gave all the strength to stand for Ganesh Abhimanyu Nallari and today Abhimanyu is not just a survivor, he is a conqueror,’ said Nallari.

Speaking on the way the film has changed Nallari’s life beyond recognition Onir said:’Ganesh Nallari will now officially be known as Ganesh Abhimanyu Nallari. It was his decision. I was shaking with fear when I showed the film to Ganesh. On his response depended my own faith in what I’ve attempted. Ganesh says the film has helped him get his identity back. He has now embraced ‘Abhimanyu’ as part of his persona.’

But it’s not just the name that has changed for Nallari. His life has been radically transformed.

‘After the film, Ganesh finally told his parents what he had suffered. It feels wonderful to know that somewhere my film has liberated a character who inspired one of the stories in my film. Ganesh’s journey into self-realization began when he rang me up to tell me a close male relative was dying,’ said Onir who is thankful to Anurag for playing the crucial role.

‘Without Anurag, the story couldn’t have been told. No one else was willing to play a man who abuses a child. Anurag agreed reasoning that someone had to do the dirty job,’ said Onir.

Released Friday, ‘I AM’ has received rave reviews and it also stars Juhi Chawla, Manisha Koirala, Nandita Das, Purab Kohli and Rahul Bose.

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