IFFI 09 - Bollywood's thinking actress lends credibility

by Amit R Agarwal

Nandita Das - thinking actress

Bollywood's thinking actress, Nandita Das said "the concept for Firaaq came about after a series of talks and interactions I had with various people. I realized there are many issues (the Gujarat riots, religion, identity) that still stir anger them. It was basically things I'd heard, read and seen. Film was a natural progression, then."

It was a patient wait of a year for Nandita Das as "Firaaq" screened at IFFI 09. Though, to her dismay Nandita found there were no subtitles as the film screened. A rueful Nandita said "My film didn't have English subtitles and most foreign delegates didn't understand it. I don't know whose fault it is, but there are no excuses for things like this at a film festival of international stature."

The most glaring thing that struck about Firaaq was that given the subject-matter the film didn't have any violent scenes. Was it a concious decision on Nadita's part?

Nandita was candid enough to admit, "as a viewer I don't like watching violence. So it was a conscious decision not to show the riots. I wanted to tell human stories and I did that by focusing on the ordinary incidents and leaving out the overtly dramatic ones."

The actress-director, who is also a fiery social-activist said "What my film tries to say is that violence spares no one. It keeps affecting you all through your life," adding that the film tries to make people aware of this and in turn aims at making them better human beings.

Stating that the biggest hurdle about being a first-time director is not having good enough producers, Das says she ended up doing most of the production work herself. "There is a dearth of independent filmmakers due to the lack of good producers. If a producer agrees to back your film, he/she should do it all the way. Why are we doing so much of safe playing?"

She said a better release strategy would have worked to the film's advantage when it released in India. "I screened my movie in various film festivals. It was appreciated everywhere. So I feel a better release strategy would have worked to film's advantage."

When asked about her future plans; Nandita simply said she is still thinking, with her now-famous impish smile.