An independent filmmaker, Sangeeta Datta, pushes boundaries when it comes to writing a script. She has been an associate director for four of Rituparno Ghosh’s films— Chokher Bali, Raincoat, Antarmahal and The Last Lear— apart from directing many documentaries, short films and plays. Now, she is all excited about the screening of Life Goes On, with mother-daughter Sharmila Tagore and Soha Ali Khan, in the lead, at the Mumbai Film Festival.
Her film, inspired by the Shakespearean tragedy King Lear, is premiering in the country. “As of now, I’m happy that my film is going to be screened at the Mumbai Film Festival and other festivals across the world.”
The story revolves around a plot similar to Lear’s, but Dutta informs that it’s not as dark or tragic. “I have just borrowed the premises from Lear; it’s not a verbatim story. My story is more to do with how a father deals with the problems of his three daughters,” she says.
The film also highlights the Hindu-Muslim conflict, along with being a family drama, where the father (Girish Karnad) is compelled to form new relationships with his daughters post his wife’s sudden death. The problem begins when the youngest daughter (Soha Ali Khan) gets pregnant and wants to marry a Muslim boy.
Datta points out that the story reflects the multi-cultural life in London and therefore her making the film in English is justified. She asserts, “The story is a witness to social and political choices one has to make to preserve the familial ties,” she says adding that she had to be extra careful with the background score, keeping in mind the theme. “Javed Akhtar has worked on two original compositions, apart from translating two songs of Rabindranath Tagore, which represents the world of the mother (Sharmila Tagore),” Dutta explains.
Elaborating on her relationship with Sharmila, she says, “As a child, her films— Amar Prem and Anuradha — left a deep impact on my mind.
When I began understanding films, I saw how she managed to bridge the gap, in Anuradha and Aranyer Din Ratri. She’s a brilliant actress.”
Dutta owes her casting skills to Rituparno Ghosh. She says, “As a writer-director Ghosh knew exactly who’d fit the role.”
While the tragedy doesn’t prevail, the film, she claims is an exposition on coming to terms with generation gaps. “The family attains a character in the backdrop of larger issues. But the story is told keeping them in perspective,” Datta signs off.