Women directors are finally getting their due in tinseltown, be it Farah Khan, Gurinder Chadha, Revathy, Tanuja Chandra or Reema Kagti. And there are few more names that are waiting to get recognised.
The latest one is Amy Thanawala, who is preparing to get onto the Bollywood bandwagon with her directorial debut Suno Na, with Tara Sharma in lead. Parmita Uniyal catches up with the director.
What made you opt for direction as a career option? Was it by chance or by choice?
Direction for me was a dream from a very young age. This career was completely by choice. In fact, I have really worked hard for achieving my dream.
How has your journey been so far in the film industry - enriching, fulfilling or bitter?
From the time I have started working with John Matthew as an assistant when he used to make ad commercials, I have never looked back. It has been a completely fun journey. Even the struggle has its own charm and pleasure.
Do you take inspiration from any director?
I highly respect the work of the two directors I have worked with - Sanjay Leela Bhansali and John Mathew Matthan. In addition to these, I am in awe of the work of Mani Ratnam.
Contemporary films you would have liked to be part of?
Yuva, Guru, Omkara.
Is there any actor or actress with whom you want to work desperately?
Any actor who is suitable for the required role would be desperately wanted by most directors. It would be the same for me.
Would you like to share the plot of your film?
My film deals with a female central character who is young, unmarried and gets pregnant and is suddenly forced to live on her own. She gets unexpected support from her own child in the womb.
What was your inspiration behind taking up this serious subject (unwed mother) in your first film?
I think this isn't a serious subject. Being unmarried and pregnant doesn't have to be a problem in this day and age of individualism! Why is it necessary to be married to be a mother?
My film deals with a single mother who wants to lead her life as an individual and yet she shouldn't have to give up on life because she is going to be a mother.
What do you think is the position of women directors in the film industry? Are they getting their due?
I think women directors who make their films have a good position in industry, as the audience likes their work. It's because of the sincerity that is reflected in their films. People get to know them by their work and name because their films are more sensitive in nature
How was your experience working with directors like Sanjay Leela Bhansali and John Mathew Mathan?
I have been extremely lucky to have worked in the debut films of these directors as I have learnt from personal experience that debut films are always close to the maker's heart. Both have taught different languages of cinema to me. The experience I have got from them is invaluable.
You have cast Tara Sharma as an unwed mother in your film. Do you think audiences expect to see married actresses only in mature roles?
I had approached Tara before I knew about her marriage and got to learn about her marriage after I signed her on. Audiences really don't think that 'married' actors can do matured roles better. A good actor will deliver a good performance in any kind of role. This is what I understand and expect from my lead actors. Fortunately, Tara has met all my expectations.
Did you face any problems while shooting for the film?
I was fortunate enough to have a very smooth and enjoyable shoot. Apart from normal setbacks I did not face any major problems that could have delayed my project. I made sure I had a bound script and hence I managed to complete the shoot within a fixed budget and schedule.
How satisfying was the experience to direct a film all by yourself?
Right, the crucial question… The experience of directing was very enjoyable, as we had great fun while shooting. I was working with a unit where 60 per cent of the people were friends and hence I was very ably supported by my team. As for calling all the shots, that gave me tremendous self-confidence. Especially after I saw the rushes.
Would you like to share any interesting anecdote while shooting for your film?
As I mentioned earlier, the shoot was a really enjoyable experience. My actors were a crazy lot and they kept the atmosphere very light on the sets.
One of the interesting incidents on the sets was when Tara came on the set for the first time with a proper pregnancy stomach! It was not fitting well as Tara has a very slim figure. We kept trying all sorts of tricks to get the right fit. Finally the wardrobe department and the production department got their heads together and made a fresh new stomach pad right there on the sets itself. We were delayed by half a day but the stomach then fit like a real one!
How prepared are you for audience's reaction to your film?
I cannot really say how I will react to the audience's reaction, as this will be another first for me. But I do hope and pray that it doesn't give me a big shock… both ways!
When can we expect your next film?
Right now we are working full steam towards an early August release deadline. With all fingers crossed.
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