Critically acclaimed actress Nandita Das has just completed shooting her first directorial venture, Firaaq... In Such Times, about how violence affects people's lives. The filmmaking process consumed her so much that she has no plans to direct another film soon.
"During the shooting I said never again. Now I'm not too sure, ha, ha. Though no direction again immediately," Nandita told IANS.
"For the past year I've been completely consumed by my film. It's become my Arjun ki aankh. I can't focus on anything else. I'm enjoying the whole process of creating a film. We've named it Firaaq... In Such Times for now and a hunt is on now for a Hindi title."
The film is in conversational language.
"Some English, Hindi, Urdu. It features an ensemble cast in five different stories. I've taken some terrific theatre actors like Shahana Goswami. I've also taken seasoned actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Raghuvir Yadav, Paresh Rawal, Deepti Naval and Tisca Arora. The cast was so varied and exciting I thoroughly enjoyed directing them."
Known for her powerful performances in Fire, Bawander, 1947 Earth and Maati Maay, Nandita desisted from casting herself in her first directorial venture, which is being produced by Percept Pictures.
"The producers and all my friends suggested I should. Initially, I did consider casting myself, but I didn't want to be distracted. To be able to tell my own stories in my own way, the thrill is unparalleled."
Ravi Chandran did the cinematography.
"Like a lot of people, who feature in my film, Ravi is an old friend. He has shot several of the films I've starred in and also the short film that I had directed. At the same time, In Such Times has also given me a chance to work with new talents like my editor Shekhar Prasad and my music composer Rajat Dholakia."
Nandita wraps up the editing and background music by the end of April.
"Being a small non-formula film I want to send it to festivals. It's the safest route for a film like mine. The cinematic world is getting smaller. And my film is about how violence affects our lives, just like No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood."
Nandita wrote her first film in collaboration with Suchi Kothari.
"She lives in Auckland in New Zealand. That made my life a little harder. I had to go over twice. We tried every means of communication and finally came up with a script that we both liked."
She feels the effort has been worth it.
"I didn't push my other work under the carpet. My work for human rights continued while the script evolved. In fact, 'In Such Times' wouldn't have been the film it is if it wasn't for the influences that I've accumulated as an actor and social animal. It took us a month and a half and it was done."
Nandita is also writing a book on her experience as a director.
"It was such an enriching experience. This is a project so close to my heart. The journey was so important."