The Ukrainian-born filmmaker, now settled in India, was contacted by Shakun Btra to help him make the film. “Gehraiyaan” became one of the first Bollywood movies with an intimacy director. This position has been a key part of film sets post #MeToo.
Gai believes that the role of an intimacy specialist is one of protection, who understands and respects performer’s “traumas”.
“Execution of a product is not enough. What’s equally important is how we felt during that execution, what our actors felt, whether they felt psychologically secure or not.”
PTIInterview via Zoom
She stated that MeToo, which was inspired by Harvey Weinstein’s scandalous sexual abuse in Hollywood, made people see actors with a more humane perspective.
“The movement made us realize that trust can be compromised in so many ways. We need to remember that actors are human beings. This information must be discussed with actors in order for them to remain stable and happy.
Gai explained, “It also simplifies the whole process and makes it more professional. It can also create a stronger connection with your audience.”
The filmmaker shared that she has known many actors who had “disturbing experiences” as the directors wanted them out of their comfort zone to do an initimate scene.
Acting is a very risky profession. You have many eyes looking at and judging you. It’s complex. It is important to understand how to make this zone, that experience safer,” she said.
‘Gehraiyaan,’ starring DeepikaPadukone, Siddhant Cheturvedi and Ananya Panday is a contemporary romance drama. Gai gives credit for Batra’s understanding of the need to bring in specialists to choreograph intimate scenes as well as to help actors prepare.
Gai is best known for his festival favorites, ‘Teen Aur Aadha’ and ‘Namdev Bhau : In Search of Silence’. He believes that directors and producers are responsible for creating a safe environment for performers.
“Directors, producers and producers should understand that the intimacy specialist, whether they are a coordinator or coach, is not there to be in specific teams like actors’ teams or just directors. They help to create a comfortable environment for everyone. It’s not trying for the director’s vision; it actually tries helping,” she said, adding that intimacy directors act in a way that bridges all departments.
Gai explains the process they used to prepare and shoot for Amazon Original. She said that they began by understanding what they needed on screen and then created workshops for the four leads.
“We sat down with our actors and went through every shot that we thought might be difficult. We were able to help them if they were uncomfortable with something, i.e. they didn’t want it to happen, and we gave them a space to discuss their concerns and offer alternatives.
Gai, who was the first intimacy director she had ever worked for, said that she was excited about the outcome of the shoot and that she was very happy with the results. She said that all of the actors were supportive.
“What I found surprising was that actors didn’t hesitate to do the exercises, even when we started workshops. They never refused to do any of the exercises. If they were unsure, they would simply ask me politely and constructively. This kind of environment is very collaborative.
Workshops help actors and directors find the right language to portray a character. She noticed a big difference in the performances of the four leading actors on set after the sessions.
“We instantly saw the differences between the workshop and the workshop after we shot. They understood each other, so it was easy to conduct the complex scenes.
Prime Video will premiere “Gehraiyaan”, starring Rajat Kapoor as supporting roles and Naseeruddin Khan as Naseeruddin.