Tackling the taboo


A cinematic narrative that delves deep into the dark corridors of child abuse, “Yes Papa,” poised for release, aims to throw a harsh spotlight on a social evil often cloaked in silence. Helmed by acclaimed theatre director Saif Hyder Hasan, the film explores the harrowing tale of a daughter living through sexual abuse at the hands of her father, as the mother remains a silent bystander.

Boasting a compelling performance by renowned actor Anant Mahadevan, the movie traverses the sensitive terrain with a blend of subtlety and starkness. After garnering acclaim and four prestigious awards at the India International Film Festival in 2022, “Yes Papa” is scheduled to hit theaters on March 29. Mirroring the complexity of real-life stories, the film promises to deliver a poignant message addressing a dire societal concern.

The spark that ignited this project’s inception was an encounter Saif Hyder Hasan’s wife, Sadia, also the film’s producer, had with a survivor of child abuse in an orphanage back in 2018. Compelled by this meeting, she urged Hasan to harness his directorial skills to shed light on this critical issue. The poignant story faltered not during its certification process, as the Central Board of Film Certification deemed it worthy of audience viewing without mandating any cuts. This decision underscores the movie’s impactful and respectful handling of its delicate subject matter.

“Yes Papa” has not only been acknowledged but also supported by key institutions tasked with protecting human rights, with screenings held for both the National Human Rights Commission and the Delhi Commission for Women. In a bid to further its reach and influence, plans are afoot to present the film to an international audience, particularly to UNICEF, in a dedicated screening aimed at catalyzing discussions and actions to protect vulnerable children from such atrocities.

Saif Hyder Hasan effusively praises Anant Mahadevan for his portrayal of the abusive father, a role that both challenged and showcased the actor’s craft. To take up a character that embodies the perpetrator of such a heinous act demanded not only talent but also a certain fortitude, which Mahadevan delivered with palpable intensity. Therewith, viewers and critics alike have been captivated by his chilling rendition, reverberating with sinister undertones that compound the film’s emotional heft.

For Mahadevan, the role was no easy feat. The seasoned actor confessed to the psychological toll it exacted, pushing him into a discomforting alignment with the abuser he depicted. Yet, the performance is marked not by an overt depiction of abuse, but an artful suggestion that allows the audience to grasp the gravity of the matter without gratuitous display.

“Yes Papa” stands out as a cultural milestone, a daring foray into a realm seldom addressed with such candor and artistic integrity in Indian cinema. Its creators hope it will resonate deeply with viewers, bridging the gap between art and advocacy, inspiration and change. Encouraging conversations on an issue that’s often shrouded in stigma, the film implores society to acknowledge and combat the abuse lurking in shadows, masquerading as familial bonds.

By offering a narrative so rooted in the pain and the plight that millions silently endure, Saif Hyder Hasan and his team aspire for “Yes Papa” to be more than a film. They envision it as a catalyst for awareness and action, a way to confront taboos and champion the rights of children everywhere to a life free from abuse and fear.

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