March 13, 2009 10:40:31 am
Deepa Mehta is back in India to handle heavyweights from Bollywood and the literary world.
Its the festival of colours and she seems to have reveled in it through the day. Now,back in her hotel and all resplendant in a green cotton salwar-kurta,filmmaker Deepa Mehta nestles into a corner of the couch at the far end of the lobby as she recounts her Holi experience in Mumbai.
I had a fabulous time today with Akshay (Kumar) and Tina (Twinkle Khanna) and a few of their friends, she says,referring to Bollywoods latest power couple. They were great hosts. Akshay is a part of my next project The Exclusion and we also have a close friend in common. But look how my salt-and-pepper hair have turned yellow and my feet bear a pink tinge, she complains in jest.
In the city to promote her film Videshs (Heaven on Earth,as released in India) Indian release as Videsh,the Canada-based Mehta seems undeterred by the politicisation of Water. I cant be driven away from my own country. We shot some part of Videsh in Chandigarh and I intend to shoot here in the near future too.
Talking about her film,she begins by dispelling the myth that her film addresses the issue of domestic abuse. My film is a story. If its an issue I have to address I will make a documentary instead, she clarifies.
Starring Preity Zinta and debutante Vansh Bhardwaj,Videsh revolves around Chand,a young Punjabi girl. She marries Rocky and moves to Canada. The circumstances and familys financial conditions drive him to vent his frustration on his wife. The films already won Zinta the Best Actress award at the Chicago Film Festival and was also nominated at the 29th Genie Awards.
Domestic abuse does form the background of this story,but the latter half talks about how Chand uses the power of her imagination to deal with her problems. Videsh instead celebrates the strength of a woman and at the same time addresses the circumstances of every other character in the film.
During her current India trip,the 49-year-old director will also finalise the cast and shooting schedules for The Exclusion,a film based on a historical event in 1914. The Exclusion centres on the plight of 375 asylum-seekers from India,primarily Sikh. They were fleeing the British and arrived in Vancouver,Canada,aboard a hired ship,the Komagata Maru,in 1914. Once there,the Canadian government turns them away. Later,when the ship returns to India,the people aboard are either arrested or killed, narrates the filmmaker,who has apparently replaced Amitabh Bachchan with Kumar for the role of Gurdit Singh,the captain of the ship.
But The Exclusion isnt the only new project Mehta is working on. The other is an adaptation of her good friend Salman Rushdies most famous novel Midnights Children. Weve been wanting to work together for a while now. So one day Rushdie asked me which of his books would I like to adapt into a film and I was sure it would have to be Midnights Children because its challenging and the humour is very complex, explains the filmmaker. And I love the magic realism that Rushdies book deals with, she says,almost as an afterthought.
The noted author,however,has made a rather interesting deal with Mehta. Oh yes,he isnt only co-writing the script but also wants to act in the film. Though he hasnt told me yet,I think I have an idea of what he wants, she smiles through her kohl-laden eyes.
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