Set during the Mughal Empire in India, villagers accuse a woman of casting the Evil Eye (nazar) on their village, resulting in calls for her execution. King Akbar turns to his advisor, Birbal, to examine whether their fears are founded in reality or rooted in superstition.

  • Sean Sankalp Raju
  • Sean Sankalp Raju
  • Devon Gulati
  • May Malone
  • Richa Koundel
    Key Cast
    "The Woman"
  • Paul Chopra
    Key Cast
  • Rahul Vaidya
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Horror, Drama
  • Runtime:
    21 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    February 1, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Sean Sankalp Raju

Sean Sankalp Raju is an Indian American writer-director whose work is steeped in telling socially conscious stories through traditional genre forms. His work has been screened on Oscar-qualifying film festivals, major airlines, and won awards at noteworthy festivals such as the Austin Film Festival and the Indapuram International Short Film Festival. Raju was born in India, raised in America, and is influenced by international filmmakers such as Akira Kurosawa from Japan, Satyajit Ray from India, and Andrey Zvyaginstev from Russia.

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Director Statement

As an Indian American filmmaker, I'm deeply troubled by a concerning trend in both my home countries—marginalization and persecution of the "Other." This pattern ranges from eroding women’s and LGBTQ rights to suppressing civil liberties for minorities. A rising fear of non-conformity is on the rise, often manipulated by those in power for their gain.

"Nazar" was born from these concerns. Early script drafts garnered insights from friends, family, and writers, revealing themes like superstition, moral hypocrisy, and oppressive patriarchy. Yet, a singular thread binds these themes together – the peril of fear.

Fear is the wellspring from which superstition, moral hypocrisy, and patriarchy emerge. In a world seemingly gripped by fear-mongering for self gain, “Nazar” paradoxically assumes the role of a horror film that condemns fear itself.

We don’t aim to recreate India’s factual past. Instead, we employ heightened visuals to create an “Akbar-Birbal of the imagination” to create a shadow of suspense that informs us about our own present as much as our past. By doing so, we engage in a subversion that seeks to awaken audiences to the insidious nature of fear-based narratives.

During a time when religious tensions in both America and India seem to be at an all time high, it’s important to note that our film does not reject any religion. Akbar's faith wasn't confined to Islam, and Birbal's religious identity evolved. We question whether power's custodians can truly dispense justice when incentives are skewed.

As we unravel the threads of history's fabric, I hope our audience not only witnesses the past but also reflects on how it continues to cast its "nazar" on the present, urging us to confront our collective fears and question the structures that shape our lives.