Actress-turned-filmmaker Deepti Naval has brought some rain and plenty of sunshine to the 62nd Cannes Film Festival with her directorial debut Do Paise Ki Dhoop Char Aane Ki Baarish. The film about gays and prostitutes was screened in the market section here to a positive response.
Do Paise Ki Dhoop... is the story of a struggling gay lyricist, an ageing prostitute and her physically challenged 12-year-old son. Enquiries from festival organisers and prospective distributors have begun to trickle in.
"It isn't a film simply about gays and prostitutes. It is more essentially about the ebbs and tides of human relationships," Deepti told IANS in an interview.
"I haven't made this film only for the festival circuit. I want to reach out to filmgoers across India. The film certainly isn't typical Bollywood fare, but it is completely accessible emotionally," she was quick to add.
Deepti took great care to ensure that neither the prostitute nor the gay man would appear stereotypical.
"The idea was to present a modern, sensitive and realistic portrait of people struggling to find happiness," she said.
Shot in Mumbai's rainy season last year by one of Bollywood's finest cinematographers, Kiran Deohans, Do Paise Ki Dhoop... uses the metaphor of the under-construction bridge across the sea from Bandra to convey the state of the relationship among the three main protagonists.
"They are trying to connect with each other, but the process is far from completion," the first-time director explained.
Do Paise Ki Dhoop... has Manisha Koirala, Rajit Kapur and New York-based Sanaj Naval, who is the director's nephew, in principal roles.
Deepti was originally working on another film for which Madhuri Dixit was being considered for the female lead. When that project proved to be still-born, she came up with the screenplay of Do Paise Ki Dhoop..., which, she reveals, was "written in three months".
The music of the film has been composed by Sandesh Shandilya while Gulzar has penned the poetic title song.
"He was busy with another film when I first approached Gulzar saab. He expressed his inability to come on board," said Naval.
But Sandesh Shandilya, a great admirer of the veteran lyricist, was very keen to work with him.
"So I went back to Gulzar saab. When I told him what the title of my film would be, he instantly came up with the second line and one thing led to another," she added.
So, is Naval planning to bid adieu to her acting career?
"No way," she said. "My role in Nandita Das' Firaaq as a woman too impotent to intervene when her community resorts to brutality and violence has struck a chord wherever the film has been screened. I can never turn my back on acting."
The actress had carved a niche for herself in parallel cinema with films like Saath Saath, Chashme Buddoor, Katha, Angoor, Hip Hip Hurray, Kamla and Mirch Masala
(Saibal Chatterjee can be contacted at email@example.com )