Rajkummar Rao and Nargis Fakhri will be sharing screen space for the first time in Namrata Singh Gujral’s directorial 5 Weddings.
In this interview with indianexpress.com, Indian-origin filmmaker-actor Namrata tells us about her experience of being a female director in a male-dominated film industry and her film 5 Weddings, which will release on October 26, 2018.
Q. What are your thoughts on being tagged as a “female director”?
The tag “female director” is two words but it stands for so much more than that. It stands for suffrage. It stands for equal pay. It stands for #MeToo. It stands for the current place in society where women are finally starting to get their due. A due that has been long overdue.
But much more work needs to be done. For example, in Hollywood, even though things are getting better, currently female directors only make up 8% of Hollywood directors. That is 8 women and 92 men for every 100 directors. In the real world, the percentage of women per 100 of the population is 50.8%.
Given this underrepresentation, it not only makes me proud to call myself a female director. It also makes me so proud of the women all around the world, who are not just “female directors” but also women who are writing, producing, editing – all the mechanics that bring movies to life.
Q. Being a female director, how differently have you portrayed weddings in your film?
Not just weddings – but I think in general, a woman’s treatment of any story angle is going to be different from that of a male director. Not better or worse. Just different. We are wired differently. I am no exception. I can tell you that I bring a lot of sensitivity to how I deal with each story angle as I try to be fair and empathetic towards every character, including men, women, straight, gay, transgender et al.
Q. How was it directing Nargis Fakhri and National Award-winning actor Rajkummar Rao?
I can safely say that this is Nargis’ best performance to date. She will blow you away. Every moment of shooting with her was precious. We became good friends and now that she lives in Los Angeles, we try and see each other often. In fact, I just invited her and Matt to come have Southern ribs with us – which my husband is an expert at. I am strongly considering Nargis for one of the leads in my next film – a sci-fi titled STILL.
Raj is a terrific actor and a good person. I am so proud of his journey to the top of Bollywood since we shot 5 Weddings – which, by the way, was shot less than two years ago! So, to set the record straight, it has not been in the pipeline forever. If Raj can stay true to his persona and surround himself with a good team, I see him going even further.
Q. Female characters are mostly used as decorations in many Hindi films. What is your say on the portrayal of these characters, and how do you try to stand out?
First, let me say that I am open about sexuality and the beauty of women’s bodies. I have no problem with the decorative part of a woman because women are gorgeous. We are beautiful creatures. So, I do not mind the portrayal as long as a fair portrayal of our other qualities are given equal treatment, if not more. The problem is the keyword “mostly” – which is an inaccurate depiction of women at large. Of course, if a character demands, an actress should be comfortable with expressing her sexuality. Think Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. But to have actresses dressed as Hoochie Mamas in every scene is uncalled for.
5) What are your expectations from the film?
We are opening in 52 countries on October 26. We then premiere on Valentine’s Day on some of the top TV channels in the world. The film was made on such a modest budget that it has already surpassed all my expectations – anything that happens on October 26 weekend is a bonus.
My hope though is that the audience will be able to see what I see in the film – a funny and super cute film. It is an entertainer with layers and substance that defies genres and takes you on an engaging ride. You will walk away from the film with a smile on your face and love in your heart.