Back in 2010, Charlie’s Angels star Lucy Liu visited India discreetly to shoot her directorial debut project, Meena. A 30-minute narrative-style feature, it tracks the true story ofa real-life sex worker Meena Hasina, as shown in the book, Half The Sky by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. For the uninitiated, Meena isalso one of six features that make up the US tele-series, Half the Sky.Now in 2012, even though the Hollywood actor’s film has hit the finishing line, it’s unlikely to hit screens in India.
The reason: distributors feel a serious film like this doesn’t have a market in the country.“Although we completed Meena a while ago, it’s not going to have an India release. Distributors have told the makers that a film like Meena has no market in our country,” says actor Tannishtha Chatterjee, who plays the title role in the film.
Besides Tannishtha, Meena also stars Himani Shivpuri as the brothel owner. Meena, for the uninitiated, was abducted at the age of 10 from her village in Bihar and brought to Mumbai, where she grew up in a brothel. After escaping from the brothel, Meena made it her life’s mission to help as many of her sex-worker colleagues to escape from a life of prostitution as possible.
Currently, the movie is doing the rounds of film festivals internationally. “I feel very sad about it (no India release). We used to be a major force in the cultural field of films and music and a centre of excellence in arts and aesthetics. But, unfortunately, India doesn’t exist anywhere now. We are just happy living in a cocoon,” rues Tannishtha, who was chosen after Lucy watched her in Sarah Gavron’s Brick Lane.
The film is shot mainly in the narrow alleys of Versova Village and at a bungalow in Andheri. After wrapping up the 15-day-long India shoot, the Kill Bill star had said: “Directing a film in India has been absolutely amazing. I’m honoured to be a part of this project, talking about empowerment of women and girls.”