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Being a woman in the film industry is challenging, says Pune film-maker Rohena Gera who shone at Cannes

Punekar Rohena Gera’s film Sir was screened at the Cannes’ critic week and also won the Gan foundation prize

pune Updated: May 20, 2018 16:31 IST
Anjali Shetty
Anjali Shetty
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune film-maker,Rohena Gera,Cannes
Rohena Gera.(HT PHOTO)

After Nandita Das’s Manto, Indian film-maker Rohena Gera shone brightly at the Cannes with her film Sir. Reacting to the same, Rohena said, “It is a tremendous honour to be invited at the Cannes, and to have the film be so well received. I am also thrilled about the Gan foundation prize for distribution too. The film was submitted to the festival and we found out in mid-April that we had been selected.” Anjali Shetty talks to Gera about her film.

Tell us about the film.

The film is about two sharply contrasting worlds that coexist in a single apartment. As these two worlds collide and the two individuals connect, the barriers between them seem only more insurmountable. What sort of bond can a domestic worker share with her boss?

What has been the most challenging part of being in the field?

Even though I have worked in the film and television industry for years, it took me some time to find my own voice or rather to trust my own voice. It is a process, and one has to be honest with oneself. The biggest challenge, I would say, is finding your own internal yardstick to measure progress or success. You cannot wait for external validation, that can take years to come. However, learning to trust your own inner voice, to understand your own evolution, that is the true challenge. Of course, when you are a woman in the film industry, there are challenges, because you are usually subject to a man’s opinion on what is an interesting story. Sometimes, they do not get it! Just like I do not get many action films! However, it is still, historically, been men who decide, so pitching has been pretty tough.

What are your current/forthcoming projects?

I do not know yet. Cannes has been crazy and intense, and suddenly there are opportunities I could never have imagined, but I do not want to rush anything. I need to wait for the euphoria to settle, and I also need to work towards giving this film the best release possible. After that I will take the time to commit to a new project.

How has the shift from Pune to Paris been?

I am very familiar with Paris so the transition was pretty easy. I had to hit the ground running as I was editing a week after landing here, so there was no time to think about anything else. Since we all speak the language too (my husband, daughter and I) it was not difficult at all.

What part has Pune played in your successful journey?

I think growing up in Pune taught me some basic values. When I was in school, we did not know or care who came from what social background or religion or anything. We made friends in a very honest, simple way, and that basic sense of connecting to people on a human level is very important to me, and informs my work. In school, what mattered was hard work, and that is what I saw in my family too. So, when I started working and finding my way, I knew I had to work hard and not look for short cuts.

First Published: May 20, 2018 16:31 IST