Aparna Sen on why she still hasn't made a Hindi language movie.. quizzed by Sonil Dedhia
You've made a film that dabbles in three languages.
Yes, The Japanese Wife is in three languages but it is mainly in English and Bengali, or English and Hindi. Japanese is not really spoken in the film.
What is the movie about?
It's a haunting and improbable love story about a schoolteacher in the Sundarbans, who becomes pen pals with a shy Japanese girl. They write letters to each other and end up falling up in love.
How did you script The Japanese Wife?
It is someone else's story. He's an English language author Kunal Basu, who writes from Oxford. The Japanese Wife is his unpublished work.
The complete innocence and a fable-like quality of the story struck me. I would say in this age, it's like a modern day fairy tale.
What's happening with Gulel?
(Pauses) At the moment, Gulel has been put aside but it will still happen sooner or later.
What about The Jewellery Box?
That too will to happen, I don't know which will happen first.
<b1>When will you make your first Hindi language film?
If you are talking about a film with songs and dances, I doubt if I'll ever make one. My films may not be out and out commercial, but I still have an audience. There are people who come and ask me when I'm making my next movie.
But all your films are mostly in Bengali and English.
Yes but my films have been appreciated nationally and internationally and have won awards. So why should I have to make mainstream Hindi films?
You cast your daughter Konkona in all your films. Why?
Yes, and with good reason. When we were doing Mr and Mrs Iyer, she suggested names for the lead actress. But while I was reading the script to her, I noticed her facial expressions.
She used to emote the scenes. I thought why should I look outside when I have an actress right here with me? And in
15 Park Avenue
, it was important to cast her. She has an excellent sense of restraints.
What are the snafus of being a director?
Artistic challenges always exist. As for those of being a director, it depends on the goals that you've set for yourself. I guess I have really always wanted to please myself. The most difficult member of the audience to please is myself.
Is there any specific reason why you write your own scripts?
No, there is no specific reason. But I think the writer himself can best turn a script into a film. Otherwise there is every chance the script will not be understood properly, or maybe the maximum will not be extracted from it.
So would you write for other directors?
I have written a script that I am giv ing to someone else to direct. If I feel the director is good, technically skilled, and does justice to the script, I might consider writing for others as well. But if I write a particular script, I am more than likely do it myself.
How has Bengali cinema evolved over the years?
I think the recent quality of films from Bengal has definitely improved. Audience tastes are beginning to change, particularly in urban centres, because of the exposure to global television and multiplexes that are coming up.
Why are Bengali films more artistic than Bollywood films?
Aisa kuch nahi hai.
There are many artistic films made in Hindi, and even some wonderful ones that have been made in Kerala. You must have certain ideas when you start thinking about a new film.
What excites you most when you start work on a new project?
It's very difficult do say. Often it's just something you have seen or been struck by. I'll give you an example. While making
Mr and Mrs Iyer,
I wanted to make a love story, which was a journey. I don't know where and when the Hindu-Muslim angle came in, so it is very difficult to say.
What are the problems that a serious filmmaker faces today?
Serious cinema needs a certain amount of attention. I think the fear today is of the instant coffee culture. We're getting used to not watching serious cinema. To an extent, that's why the audience is getting corrupted.
What's happening to your acting career?
I never took it seriously, but I have stopped acting. It's a choice I made. I prefer direction.
Which are some of your favorite Bombay films?
Life in a Metro
Several directors in Kerala. I like Shaji Karun and Adoor Gopalkrishnan. In Bombay, I like Vishal Bharadwaj and Anurag Basu.