August 5, 2004
Dharan Mandrayar is thespian Sivaji Ganesan's brother V. C. Shanmugham's son.
Dharan has just completed a project that is very close to his heart at the moment —
White Rainbow, which was premiered recently in New Delhi where it was well
White Rainbow is being produced for a global audience, by Dharlin Entertainment, in
partnership with Sivaji Films and Prabhu Movies.
Dharan speaks exclusively to Sify.com before leaving for US at the Sivaji Films office, near Lloyds
What is White Rainbow all about?
White Rainbow deals with a societal issue, an anathema still prevalent in India, particularly in
Vrindavan. I have dwelled into the callousness of a society that metes out gross injustice
to the widows and the sad part is that most of us hardly know the extent of the atrocities
committed on the hapless widows of Vrindavan.
What was the inspiration behind White Rainbow
I had read about a 13 year old widow in Vrindavan in one of my son’s school lessons and I was shocked
at the plight of the young girl. But to know the truth, I travelled all the way to Vrindavan. Mohini Giri, of
the Guild of Service, helped me a lot in this endeavour. Later my wife Linda too felt so strongly about the
subject that she egged me to make a film on it.
What was Mohini Giri’s role in the making of the film? How long did it take you to complete the
Her service was amazing ... She even runs a home for widows in Vrindavan. That is why I decided to
name my heroine Priya Giri. The research took me six months and the script another four weeks. We had
experienced `script doctors' in US to work on the script and improve it. Once that was over and the cast
and crew were finalised we were ready for take-off. We had planned a 41-day schedule but we managed
to can the whole project in an incredible 25 days with sync sound.
Can you elaborate on the story of White Rainbow?
Vrindavan is often referred to as the ‘City of Widows’. The epithet may sound disconcerting, but the
veracity cannot be ignored. The widows in Vrindavan, young and old are sexually exploited and
physically abused in every way possible. Shorn of the last vestige of dignity and ostracised as an
‘inauspicious’ presence in the family, many of them are brought to Vrindavan and abandoned. They are
illiterate and have no trained skills to support themselves.
From morning till night they sing ‘bhajans’ for about eight hours a day and at the end of it earn a measly
amount. Several pathetic tales of these women haunt you when you go around the city, out of which I
chose four. The stories are true, only that I've fictionalised them to suit the medium. Nowhere have I tried
to dramatise as it is just plain truth.
Why did you choose Sonali Kulkarni?
Sonali is from the Marathi stage and she had the right amount of dignity and demeanour to carry off such
a role. I had never seen any of her commercial films when I signed her. She agreed to do the role even
without reading the script and later when I sent it to her, she called me back weeping. Such was the
impact. In fact, the actors breaking down during the shoot or after a scene was almost a norm during the
making of the film.
Who are the others in the cast?
They are all from the National School of Drama, Delhi. The three girls are Amardheep Jha, Shameem
Shaikh, and the teen-aged Deepti. Gaurav Kapoor and Amitabh Srivastava are also from NSD. I wanted
actors who could deliver and they were all excellent.
How did this title, White Rainbow come about?
The film is about these women who have myriad colours in them like the rainbow, so much to offer
society. Yet they are made to go around in white. Both the versions, English and Hindi, were to be titled
White Rainbow. But I was advised that in remote Hindi-speaking belts, the English name would not be
understood ... so there it will be called Shwetambhar with the English name below, as a slug.
What about the technical team?
Michael Mason is the music composer and he has done Hollywood films like Bruce Almighty, Spy Kids,
Spy Kids 2, Princess Diaries and The Scorpion King. Lenin had stopped editing as he has turned to
direction himself, but once he read the script, he readily agreed. And we had Kannan to do the
photography, Santhana Bharati as the first A.D. and Prabhakaran to do the sets.
When is the theatrical release of the film?
We are planning to release the film in September. I had a special screening in New Delhi arranged by
Mohini Giri and everybody gave a positive feed back on the film. In fact, Union Minister Jaipal Reddy
told me that I should submit the film to the Indian Panorama. It is also screened at the Mill Valley Film
We are hoping that even if it changes a
couple of minds to do something or to
help we have achieved something.
Director, White Rainbow
Watch out for the special on White Rainbow.