Her latest directorial venture has been making all the right noise across the globe at various film festivals but it has also landed her in a bit of a trouble. Leena Yadav’s Parched is being criticised back at home, in India.
Leena has been receiving threats over the costumes she has used in the film that stars Radhika Apte, Surveen Chawla and Tannishththa Chatterjee in lead roles.
She said she was very conscious of not hurting people’s sentiments or limiting the film to a particular community. “My film shows a mix of cultures and communities. I have mixed various customs, rituals and costumes to ensure that this is not the story of a particular region. Even the name of the village is fictitious. It does not belong anywhere, it’s a mix of everything. I don’t know whether they are intimidated by the film,” she told Hindustan Times.
Leena further said that she is getting calls from random numbers with people claiming to hail from a Gujarati community and threatening her, “When I ask them to tell me exactly what offends them they go berserk. They start saying things like ‘Hum 60 lakh log hain. Aapko pata nahi hai hum aapke saath kya kar sakte hain. (We are 60 lakh people, you have no clue what we can do to you).”
“They are very upset with the costumes I have used in Parched. They keep saying you have shown the women of our community like this. Don’t know what ‘this’ means. But when I ask what is not acceptable they start threatening me,” she said.
“They have even filed a complaint in Gujarat, seeking a ban on Parched. It is slated for hearing on October 4. We have also filed a police complaint in Oshiwara Police Station, Mumbai regarding the threats, she added.
A PTI report named the Rabari community of Gujarat in the incident, though Leena said she would prefer not naming them. The filmmaker said she is also worried about a member of the film unit in Gujarat who helped them in creating the dialect and is also now getting life threatening calls.
The self-proclaimed leaders of the community rang up Leena’s husband’s phone and asked for the film’s producer Ajay Devgn as well.
Watch: Trailer of Parched
“I knew we are a country which is very conservative and we are very touchy people. That’s why I never used a particular community. I even created a dialect which doesn’t exist - a mix of Kutchi and Hindi. I have shown festivals in the films but not named Hindus or Muslims. I have made extra efforts to ensure no community is hurt with the film. Yet, here we are,” she said.
“I used costumes and jewellery that I found beautiful, not to portray any particular community. People all over the world have related to the film and are saying ‘this is my story, this is my sister’s story’. It is sad that people here are objecting to it. We are still stuck on clothes and do not want to look at the larger issue,” she added.
Talking about the ongoing debate on whether Pakistani artists should be asked to leave India and Indian filmmakers should not work with them, Leena said, “Art should be kept away from political issues. Art is the only thing where we express ourselves. Language is one aspect of films but movies work on emotions. Why are we creating boundaries where we should be building bridges?”
“If we keep segregating people, how will we work? India is a country of so many languages and dialects. There is so much the world can learn from us. We cannot create barriers for ourselves. Otherwise, we’ll end up watching our own films alone. Hum khud hi film banaenge aur khud hi dekhenge,” she added.
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