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Meghna Gulzar: Why do alarm bells ring when a woman tells a woman’s story?

Raazi director Meghna Gulzar talks about the importance of good content and how it beats the gender game. She points out that when she cast for Talvar — as a woman director without a hit film to her name — actors said yes to her right away.

bollywood Updated: Aug 27, 2018 18:42 IST
Yashika Mathur
Yashika Mathur
Hindustan Times
Meghna Gulzar,Sir Sam Manekshaw,Raazi
The plot of filmmaker Meghna Gulzar’s next film will be centred round the life of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.

With her gritty thrillers like Talvar (2015) and Raazi (2018) making the audience sit on the edge of their seats, filmmaker Meghna Gulzar has clearly left the stereotypes surrounding “women directors” far behind.

“I don’t think I’ve had to face [being stereotyped] personally, but I won’t say that this sentiment didn’t exist. When I was making my first film 17 years ago, this sentiment did exist that female directors would tell stories that’d always be about women and that no male star would want to work with them. A lot of times that did happen, but my point to that is, we also had a lot of male directors who’ve made films with women at the centre of the story. Why is there no prejudice against them?” asks Meghna, who was quick to point out that classic hits like Pakeezah and Sujata were directed by men.

Meghna adds that a film’s success is based on a good story and not the gender of the filmmaker. “Why do the alarm bells ring when a woman tells a woman’s story? And then what do you call a Farah Khan (director of Main Hoon Na, 2004; Om Shanti Om, 2007; and Happy New Year, 2014 — all fronted by Shah Rukh Khan) in all this? If you ask me, it’s the content. If the content connects with the audience, it doesn’t matter who makes the film. Craft doesn’t have a gender. A male director can be as sensitive or insightful as a female director,” she feels.

Read| Meghna Gulzar on parents Rakhee and Gulzar: I learned dignity from my mother and simplicity from my father

While her first few films didn’t hit the right chord with audience, Meghna emerged as a winner with her film on the Aarushi Talwar murder case, titled Talvar. This only made her belief in good content stronger.

“If there are stumbling blocks now in the story, I don’t think it’s the gender, it’s the content,” shares Meghna, who has announced her next film, which is on Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, and a web series on Mumbai’s top cop Rakesh Maria. Revealing an interesting anecdote from Talvar, which starred Irrfan, Konkona Sen Sharma, and Neeraj Kabi, the filmmaker says, “I was still an unsuccessful filmmaker when I went around casting for Talvar and I was a woman filmmaker, but the first three people we approached for the film said yes to it. How did that happen? What worked for me is the content.” She adds on a lighter note, “You can’t change your gender, so you should try to make content that’s difficult to reject.”

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First Published: Aug 27, 2018 18:42 IST