Filmmaker Shonali Bose's debut film Amu (2005), won multiple national and international awards. It has been 10 years since Bose has directed another film. Now that her second film, Margarita With A Straw, is finally releasing, the filmmaker sounds excited. The film, which deals with a very sensitive subject, that of cerebral palsy, has travelled to numerous film festivals and has won accolades. Bose, who took more than four years to make the film, spoke to HT City.
You started writing the film in 2011.
Yes, I started writing the first draft in January 2011, four months after the death of my son Ishaan on his 17th birthday. I was a very difficult time for me. The film's subject is very sensitive and I felt this story should be told. The story draws inspiration form my cousin Malini. It is an emotional journey. I had discussed the story with Ishaan first and he was the one who encouraged me to tell this story.
The film deals with a very sensitive subject.
That's the reason I felt this story should be told. It wasn't too easy for me. I am very close to my cousin, Malini. We are friends. It was difficult for me to bare both Malini and my story to the world. Kalki Koechlin, who plays the protagonist, Laila, is based on Malini's life. Our society feels that people who are wheelchair-bound are different but they too have sexual urges, they too have their desires and they too seek love. I have seen that with Malini. It's not a preachy movie but about a horny teenager, who has her sexual preferences.
Was the film earlier titled Choonan Hain Asmaan?
No, it was never titled Choonan Hain Asmaan. In fact, Margarita With a Straw was decided from the very beginning. I felt it would be an interesting title. Malini and I go out a lot. We even go out for a drink. So, whenever we used to go for a drink, I used to order one whiskey in a normal glass and another one in a sippy glass, so that she doesn't spill it over. At times it would surprise people in the restaurants and bars because they would think how can someone who has cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound have whisky? But that's how people in this society think. Why can't someone have a whisky in a sippy glass? That's how I decided on the film's name. It's sipping margarita with a straw.
(Laughs) There was another strange confusion with the title. It's a Hindi film but many thought it to be an English film. We kept on telling people that it's only the title that's English and it's an out-and-out commercial Hindi film. That's when we thought of including a song Choona Hain Aasman and I even thought of changing the name but the film's cast and crew protested saying that Margarita With a Straw is a really innovative name and we should retain that title.
Watch: Margarita With A Straw trailer
The film has also been appreciated at different film festivals.
That was a real high but I didn't make this film for festivals. The film has a very sensitive subject but it's not preachy. I didn't want to make another disability film about triumph. I just wanted to make a film on a teenager who has her desires and has her own sexual preference. That was another difficult area. When we screened the film for the censor with eight members sitting in front of us, I felt that they would tear the film to pieces but they were really nice. They said what I have done and shown is absolutely fine and I was really happy with the their reaction.
What are your expectations from the Indian audience now?
We have had a few select screening and I am really happy with the way people have reacted so far. The response so far has been good and I am waiting for the reactions once the film gets a proper release. I was really overwhelmed with the way people reacted when we took the film to the Toronto International Film Festival. So much so, that one person came to me said that his son is 25 years old and is disabled and he wanted me to guide him because of the way I have depicted the issue in the film. I am really looking forward to the reaction of the Indian audience.