Mithya: Sumanth Bhat’s Cinematic Exploration of Childhood Trauma

Accomplishing a vision often cherished in the silence of one’s heart, Sumanth Bhat has fulfilled his dream with the directorial debut of ‘Mithya’, a film that graced the big screen during its premiere at the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. The director was moved by the experience. “I felt a great sense of accomplishment,” Sumanth shared, visibly content with his achievement.

‘Mithya’ is a narrative steeped in emotion, focusing on a young boy of eleven as he navigates the pain of losing both his parents. The impact of the film was so profound that it left the audience visibly moved, some to tears. “Watching them twitch and turn in their seats, I was overwhelmed. There was a strange energy in theater, and that’s what cinema is all about,” Sumanth reflected on the audience’s reaction.

Under the auspices of Rakshit Shetty’s Paramvah Studios, the film found its production home. The script resonated so deeply with Shetty that, reportedly, he could not hold back his emotions while reading it. Sumanth, in conversation at the 15th Bengaluru International Film Festival, commented, “He didn’t want to change a thing in the story.”

The narrative portrays the complexities of adolescence through the eyes of its young protagonist. Drawing on personal experience as a father to children of similar ages, Sumanth has painted a realistic picture of sibling rivalry and childhood struggles. “Being around my children helped me in writing the story. Even the sibling dynamics are inspired by what I observe at home,” he shared, providing a glimpse into his creative process.

At the center of the film is Mithun, nickname ‘Mithya’ (played by Athish S Shetty), who goes through an identity crisis after moving from Mumbai to Udupi following the tragic demise of his parents. The difficulty in adjusting to life with his aunt and uncle, as well as his struggles to connect with classmates, are heartrendingly depicted.

The inspiration for ‘Mithya’ drew upon a somber family incident Sumanth encountered. He recounts an image of a young boy, oblivious to the gravity of his parents’ funeral, who set the course for the film’s inception. The filmmaker sought to explore and understand the grieving process of children confronted with such profound loss.

As audiences relate to Mithya’s journey, the film emphasizes the entwined fragility and resilience of childhood. Sumanth was diligent not to err in depicting the psychological aspects, saying, “After studying how kids grieve and heal after losing parents, I made sure the film’s conclusion symbolized the beginning of Mithya’s recovery rather than an end to his challenges.”

The opening of ‘Mithya’ is symbolic, with the young boy standing at a train door, a metaphor crafted by Sumanth to reflect the tumultuous journey ahead. “The scene underscores that something is amiss, a troubling notion lurking in the boy’s mind,” he describes, highlighting his flair for metaphorical storytelling.

Sumanth’s creative inspiration is drawn from a blend of international and Indian cinema. His admiration for directors Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, Vikramaditya Motwane, and Anurag Kashyap ignited his passion for film, starting with exploratory workshops at the Suchitra Film Society.

His journey to filmmaking took a detour through technology, as he graduated from R V College of Engineering and briefly joined Cognizant. However, Sumanth’s storytelling ambitions quickly surfaced during a gap before his job start, leading him to collaborate on short films with Rakshit Shetty. This path eventually led to the formation of a design firm with a friend, but the allure of cinema called him back to the director’s chair.

With ‘Mithya’ awaiting its theatrical release, Sumanth is already turning toward future projects. The film’s release not only marked a milestone for his career but also instilled in him a sense of closure and the drive to commence his next creative endeavor. As he confidently steps forward in the landscape of Indian cinema, Sumanth Bhat leaves an indelible impression with ‘Mithya’, a film that explores deep human emotion through the innocent eyes of a child.

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