Nandita Das In Conversation with Meena T Pillai
There are more films about underworld dons than about artists: Nandita Das
“We don’t celebrate our artists, our writers, our musicians. There are more films about underworld dons than there are about artists,” said acclaimed actor and director Nandita Das. She was taking part in the ‘In Conversation’ session at the 23rd IFFK.
Nandita, the first Indian to be inducted into the International Hall of Fame of the International Women’s Forum in Washington DC, opined that her film, ‘Manto’, which screened on December 8th and has further screenings in the fest under the Indian Cinema Now package, doesn’t fall into brackets. She discussed the challenges she faced while filming it, including how distributors and exhibitors decide what the masses want, whereas she feels that there is no need for the “classes-masses separation”.
Her film ‘Manto’ is the tale of the life of Indo-Pakistani Urdu writer and playwright Saadat Hasan Manto. She said that she feels a lot of “Manto-yath” or Manto-ness, as, like how the writer was asked why he wrote about sexual workers than about the freedom struggle that was going on, she also had to face challenges, as often her films were termed as tailor-made for festivals. She expressed her joy, as the film received appreciation from the common public, after it was viewed by them through various means.
On feminism, she opined that the fight should never be against men, but against patriarchy. She expressed her solidarity for all the strong pillars who have fought and continue to struggle against the misogyny and the prejudice.
Nandita Das’s debut directorial, ‘Firaaq’ had won awards at several international festivals including the IFFK. ‘Manto’ will have its further screenings on December 10 at 6:15 PM in Screen 3 of the New Theatre, and on December 12 at 8:30 PM in Sree Padmanabha.
Film academic and writer Meena T Pillai moderated the session.