We’re in a very good space vis-à-vis the world of storytelling: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari

Bareilly Ki Barfi director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari says “film-making and storytelling is also a form of spirituality”.

bollywood Updated: Sep 10, 2017 19:19 IST
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari,Kriti Sanon,Bareilly Ki Barfi
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari says she doesn’t like calling herself “a film-maker but a storyteller.”

She showed sparks of brilliance with her first film, Nil Battey Sannata (NBS) itself. Not surprisingly then, director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s second outing, Bareilly Ki Barfi (BKB) had a lot of expectations riding on it. Now, even though the film has gone on to become a sleeper hit besides getting rave reviews, not much has changed for Ashwiny. “It’s just that I sleep a bit more nowadays (laughs),” she says, as she talks about life, career, inspiring women and more.

Did you find the BKB experience any different from NBS?

I treated it like my first film. But of course, when I started work on BKB, I was two films old as I had already finished the Tamil version (of NBS) and I really feel that experience counts. So, then you know what all things you should be doing but also, you get to learn what all things one shouldn’t do.

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s new directorial venture, Bareilly Ki Barfi has become a sleeper hit.

Was there any pressure on you about BKB vis-à-vis people’s expectations?

As a story and a film, BKB is very close to my heart because it has come right after Nil Battey Sannata. And they say that with the first film, one gets established but with the second one, you need to prove yourself. Of course, things will keep changing but even if you do 10 films, you should look at any film as your first one. So, I treated BKB like my first film because whenever you do something for the first time, you learn and try to imbibe things. I will be like this in every film, so, every film will be sweet for me (smiles).

Do you feel it’s a great time to be a film-maker, especially for women?

Not only as a male or a female film-maker, I feel we are in a very good space vis-à-vis being in the world of storytelling because we are a country of young people. Everyone is aspiring to do different kinds of things in a country where young audiences are willing to take risks. Plus, we have a whole lot of new thinkers, who are going to take fearless decisions. Also, you have producers who want to back it, actors who want to be a part of it and directors-writers who want to make such stories. Such an amalgamation will yield beautiful results, especially since we are extremely diverse as a country and so, we are going to get storytellers and writers from the interior parts of our country, who will come with their experiences.

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari made her directorial debut with Nil Battey Sannata.

What would you rather be – storyteller or a film-maker?

I think I am a storyteller. I don’t like calling myself a film-maker but a storyteller. I feel I am a storyteller because a storyteller tells stories and film-making is my medium of telling stories. Staying centered is the ultimate motive. Being joyous about what I do and knowing why I do it is important. If I am happy making stories that make people happy then my job as a storyteller is done. Everything else — being known, being part of coffee conversations — all that is a part of the job. Tomorrow if I fail to tell stories, I fail my audience, then none of this matters.

In today’s day-and-age, do you think the power of cinema has grown manifold?

For me, film-making and storytelling is also a form of spirituality or a form of understanding human minds, and a way of understanding why some things function the way they are. There is a cause and effect in everything so I feel that in my stories, the whole aspect of cause and effect is very important. Today, if I can make a difference in society by the kind of stories I say, and create larger audiences then it will creates a chain reaction and that is very important.

Every day was a chatterbox day 😂 with Bitti Mishra @kritisanon ❤ #bareillykibarfi @jungleepictures @brstudiosllp #happiness

A post shared by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari (@ashwinyiyertiwari) on

Do you feel success stories like you will go a long way with regards to more women making entering the film industry?

We are a country of young population with whole lot of girls and boys who aspire to become what they aim to be. So, it’s important to be a role model and set precedents because only if we do it, will there be a chain reaction of more people entering the industry, who will bring in different forms of storytelling, which will impact a lot of things in the industry. If I, as a woman, can inspire other girls and women, things will be far more positive in terms of sheer acceptance of women in various fields. Why is it that traditionally, a girl is supposed to become a teacher but a boy can become an engineer? It’s only now that things are changing, right? Even in our ad films, have we ever shown a girl becoming an astronaut? It’s always boys. It’s all about the mind-set that has to change.

Being a successful woman in your field, do you think you can inspire a lot of others too?

I would like to be an inspiration to a lot of girls, who would want to do something different and most importantly, they should be allowed to do that without being told that, ‘you can’t do that.’ So, there should be no bifurcation between them. We need more minds and perspectives and that can happen only when there are equal opportunities for everyone.

How does it feel to deliver a hit film? Nowadays, what’s keeping you busy?

Nothing right now. I am chilling. I’ve finally got time to do my own thing. So, I am suddenly feeling that I should do painting and I am going to do that. Then, I am also making ad films and will spend more time – than what I usually do – with my kids. Also, I think I need a break now so I think I am going to travel. I am going to Goa for 10 days to do a yoga course. Plus, I am also writing a book.


Yes, I have finished about five chapters. It’s a life story and philosophical, which is about a relationship between a father and a son. I feel it’s in a very Paulo Coelho kind of space.

Be it Nil Battey Sannata or Bareilly Ki Barfi, your films are high on entertainment value but also carry relevant messages. But is it difficult to strike that balance?

Yes, it is. I would lie if I say that it is not difficult because there’s a fine thin balance that you’ve to strike. So, one moment, you can be very funny but there can also be a sad or a breakdown moment. In everyone’s life, there are ups and downs. Even if I am saying a real, slice of life story, which is quirky and funny, the audience must take something back. In that sense, what’s most important for me is that whoever comes to watch my film should identify with my characters and their insights.

In BKB too, you touched upon various real-life and progressive thoughts…

I think for me the most important thing was the progressive relationship between the father and his daughter. I feel that a film is also like a human being and has its own life. A story is always about people and people have flaws, good sides and bad sides and they are also humanitarian. I feel every story I say should be funny and entertain people. But at the end of the day, I also need to give people something to go back home with because if I haven’t done that then I have failed as a storyteller and also as a human being. I am not saying this is the only way of storytelling but maybe, this is how I want to say it so I feel there is a kind of connect between me and my audience.

At this stage, how do you see success and failure?

I have seen a lot of failures in life. And I feel that you do need to put in rigorous hard-work and have the conviction to do what you need to. I feel a film has to be made from the heart and it must be as pure and real as your life because that shows in your work. For me, BKB isn’t the end and I’m like, ‘oh, I have made a hit film.’ I have to again start from scratch, work as hard and with the same passion and purity in head, and not thinking of success or failures because then you may not complete the journey. You should just do your bit, as kal kisne dekha hai?

@ayushmannk thank-you for this memorable picture until next time. 🙏🏾😊

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Clearly, you cut yourself off from everything after a point, and plus, you stay far away in Chembur. Does that help?

The thing is how do you tell good and different stories? Even when you solve a mathematical calculation like calculus, you stop and think if you have done it correctly. So, as a storyteller and a creative person, it’s you have to take a step back and have a different point of view on things. So, for me going back home, be with my own thoughts and things that I really love, reflecting [on things] puts me a little away from everything else and gives me a different perspective. Even great writers, directors or novelists do their work and then cut off, but when they want to be in the public eye, they do that so, I think you need to strike that good balance. Only when I have different perspectives that I can compare diverse points of views and that is very important.

Was there an extra pressure vis-à-vis BKB considering it was mounted on a bigger level?

No, I think that doesn’t change. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small, big or a medium-budget film. The way you treat a film and your homework is going to be same. Regardless of how many trees you grow, the process will be the same, except that by the time you are growing your third tree, you know how much water and what manure to put.

Do you ever get overwhelmed with the kind of praise that’s coming your way?

I feel that gratitude is the most important thing which you need to keep moving with. I feel extremely blessed that I have had some really nice people who have always been a part of my life. So, the idea is to just keep doing better work without thinking of what it’s going to be. As they say in Hindi, ‘karm karo, phal ki chinta mat karo.’ Be it producers or audiences, they are coming to me for a reason and I can’t let them down.

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First Published: Sep 10, 2017 19:14 IST