9 year old Raj will never forget the summer of ’82.
Days are spent doing household chores with his sister Renu, and secretly watching their Dad’s adult videos. When caught by their mother, Raj blurts out the truth about the video tapes without thinking of the consequences. Clean Linen is Raj’s story about the pain of growing up, and realising that some family secrets won’t come out in the wash.
DIRECTORS NOTES - Zia Mandviwalla
"Having grown up in the West in an Indian family, I know what is to inhabit the disparate worlds that exist inside and outside the home. Straddling two cultures is not unique to my childhood. In fact, it is a universal experience of many diasporic cultures. This is what attracted me to Suchi Kothari’s screenplay, Clean Linen.
The film is a portrait of an immigrant family whose thin veneer of domestic happiness and success cracks when 9-year-old Raj unwittingly forces them to acknowledge the unhappiness of his parents’ marriage.
In many respects, Clean Linen is about the lack of loving and open communication. Much of the film rests in the spaces between: in what remains unspoken rather than said. My aim was to try and capture how a young boy would comprehend his mother’s shame, his sister’s rejection, and his father’s failure to act – if he would comprehend them at all.
The real challenge for me was working with two children who have never acted before, let alone experienced a film set. Dilan (Raj) and Shivani (Renu) were a pleasure to work with. They were focused, mature, and had amazing endurance. While the emotional nuances of the script may still remain a little beyond their years, Dilan and Shivani’s performances bring layers of meaning to the film I never expected.
I hold hope for Raj. If the events of ’82 influenced him to move away from the silence and hurt, and allow him to find another way to relate to others, then I feel a sense of optimism. If the film provokes even one audience member to recognize and change similar pathologies in his or her relationships, I feel even more privileged to have brought this story to the screen."