News Column

Films are a force: Madhureeta Anand

December 7, 2013


Dec. 07--Director Madhureeta Anand brings a hard-hitting women centric film to the Dubai International Film Festival

MADHUREETA ANAND MAY shrug off the 'independent' filmmaker tag but it's clear she's not afraid of breaking new ground. Her latest film, Kajarya, a hard-hitting feature focusing on infanticide and the hardships faced by women in India, is one she hopes will travel far and wide and inspire drastic changes in people's mindsets.

Anand debuted in Bollywood with 2009's Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye, starring Randeep Hooda and Raima Sen. In a chat with City Times, she expressed excitement at the prospect of visiting Dubai for the world premiere of Kajarya at the Dubai International Film Festival and hopes her film will have a significant impact on attitudes towards women around the world.

How do you feel about Kajarya being showcased in Dubai?

I am thrilled and honoured that our film will have its world premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival. Dubai and the UAE are generally culturally closer to India, so it will be really special to show our film there. And the festival has consistently had good films so we look forward to being in good company.

What message do you want to convey through the film?

The film is pegged around the issue of infanticide but is really about women in India and the world and how they are treated and looked at. I have reversed the gaze and brought forth the feminine point of view both in the language of the film and the storyline. The film is a thriller and has a plot that moves forward quite quickly and takes the audience to the core of the issues that face us today.

Do you feel films like yours make an impact on the mindset of society as far as women are concerned?

Films are a force. Whether we like it or not films influence people. Often filmmakers abdicate the responsibility behind the garb of being 'entertainers'. But frankly entertaining or engaging the audience is the least you can do as a filmmaker -- it is what more you can do that counts.

And if year after year and film after film we only see women as accessories or we value them only for their physical attributes then somewhere people begin to see women as flimsy, somewhat weak individuals. And so films that portray women as they are: strong, weak, attractive, unattractive, loving, hating... will help balance this view. It is my hope and ambition that Kajarya travels far and wide and deep into India to effect some change.

Why did you decide to go in for debutant actors and people with no acting background instead of professional actors for this film? Every film needs its own treatment and Kajarya needed to be realistic, raw and honest. Casting known faces would have compromised this. I was very keen to use the technique of combining reality and fiction to tell a fable.

Someatimes we step away from talking about mere facts and go towards revealing some deep truth. And I wanted to go to the depths of a thought process that actually allows the killing of baby girls. So I had to have new fresh faces.

As an independent filmmaker, how difficult or easy is it to get support for your projects? Will independent films ever be able to stand on an equal footing with Bollywood?

I actually don't like the tag of 'independent' filmmaker. It's a much used and abused term. We see super commercially funded projects claiming to be independent. I think independence is a state of mind.

And yes, it is hard when one wants to have a different approach or standpoint. And that's how it is no matter what field of work you are in. But actually it is the only worthwhile way to be. Why would one follow the crowd when you can have such fun discovering the world and yourself through every piece of work that you do? And it sounds callous but I actually don't care what everyone else is doing or being on an equal footing with anyone else.

Every film is relevant in its own context. Plus as professionals we are well aware of things like commercial viability and so when we make films that are different we contain our budgets and go big on the idea.

You forayed into Bollywood with Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye. What inspired you to make that film? Do you have any plans for future Bollywood projects?

I wrote Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye when I was going through an upheaval in my personal life. It was the strangest time in my life because I should have been shattered by the events taking place around me but I felt nothing but elation.

I couldn't explain this contradiction and so I wrote Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye as a way to express this feeling. And then like in the film that elation led me quite quickly to the production and subsequent release of this film. Yes, I have two mainline films in the pipeline, one is Maharani, a period thriller romance, and Do Deewane Sheher Mein, a romance set in Mumbai.

What are your thoughts on Dubai?

This will be my first visit to Dubai. I am looking forward to it as I have heard only wonderful things about the city and can't wait to see it for myself.


(c)2013 the Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

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