Filmmaker Kiran Rao spoke about her love for cinema, art, her future projects and being married to Mr. Perfectionist, Aamir Khan at the Indian Express Idea Exchange held in Mumbai on Tuesday (June 17).
“I always knew I wanted to write my own material,” she says. “Any writer will tell you that a lot will change from your first draft to your final film. I made my film, ‘Dhobi Ghat’ simultaneously with ‘Peepli Live’.
On how she maintains the balance between mainstream and independent cinema, Kiran Rao says, “I’ve always been on the other side. I’m just married to the mainstream. Otherwise I’ve never really watched too much mainstream film or read mainstream literature.”
“I’m struggling now with the film that I’m working on. I’m trying to make it more broad based. I don’t have the tools to write mainstream and popular stuff like how some directors say, ‘I’m going to put something exciting in this part’.
The ‘Dhobi Ghat’ director says she is not tempted by blockbusters. “I don’t think in terms of scale like I won’t be able to pull off a war scene. I think in smaller terms, small stories, relationships etc. I’m not equipped to handle blockbusters.”
“I’m trying to write but I’m finding it difficult because I’m trying to move out of my comfort zone, which is otherwise very small.
Being married to one of Bollywood’s biggest stars Aamir Khan, Kiran says she has slowly come to terms with typical Bollywood cinema. “I started out really cold and I had to dismantle a lot of ideas I had. I like a lot of the work Aamir does but sometimes I need to suspend my disbelief and get into popular cinema. But by now I have found a way to watch his stuff without it being completely alien to me,” says Kiran.
Kiran also says that since she grew up in Kolkata, she has limited knowledge of religion, caste and rural India. “I have gained a lot from Aamir’s films. His work has given me an insight into the interiors of the county and what their concerns are since the mass of the nation relates to them.”
Kiran Rao also spoke about her presentation of Anand Gandhi’s ‘Ship of Thesues’. “It was an experiment and a lot of work. But I was really excited. It was a win-win situation for both Anand and me. We didn’t have any money for a PR campaign and so we used a social media and digital ad campaigns to promote it.”
Kiran also spoke about a certain friendship that came about from her interaction with Anand Gandhi and their plans to collaborate and work together in the future. “Anand is always working on so many projects. He is supposed to be co-writing with me but we haven’t really got our acts together,” she says.
Kiran also shared her more ambitious project and where she sees the future of cinema. “I’m looking for a space – a cultural hub where people ca watch different kinds of films and maybe even include theatre.”
She also let us in on another project – her plans to work with television. “I’m totally excited about television. It’s my new obsession. Back in the day, we had some great TV and I don’t see why we can’t have it anymore. TV is the new world for us and gives us a chance to chisel and shade characters over time. I have two shows that I’m working on, mostly drama.”
Talking about her husband Aamir’s baby, ‘Satyamev Jayate,” she says, “I’m so proud of Satyamev Jayate. It is the one star that is shining atleast in my life.”
And lastly, when asked about her thoughts on the trend of item numbers in films, “I’m been extremely vocal about item numbers,” she says. “I find them extremely offensive. Of course women are sexy and desirable but surely they can find ways to make these songs mean something in relation to the films. It just makes for bad cinema.”