It has been almost 16 years since Rahul Bose directed Everybody Says I’m Fine and now he has donned on the director’s hat again for the film Poorna, which is the biopic of a teenager Poorna Malavath, the youngest girl to climb Mount Everest. The enthusiastic director, Aditi Inamdar and Poorna Malavath during an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com shared the various challenges they faced while making the film.
For child actor Aditi Inamdar, her biggest fear on the sets of the film was shooting near water. “I was scared of water, only he knows (pointing at Rahul Bose) how difficult it was to shoot the water scene,” said Aditi, “I was damn scared to get into it, but after all the training I was okay with it. And now I am not scared of water anymore.”
” There’s a scene, we are shooting in the water, you will see,” Rahul Bose briefly explained.
While describing her journey, an enthusiastic Rahul Bose enacted how he made Aditi overcome her fear. He also enacted the reactions of Poorna and Aditi after they watched the trailer of their own film.
How would Poorna be any different from the other biopics we have seen in Bollywood over the years? Rahul Bose said its uniqueness lies in the fact that it is the story of an anonymous person. “I think it is the most moving inspirational biopic of somebody who nobody knows about. Otherwise, you might have heard of Milkha Singh, Mary Kom, Neerja, but I don’t think anybody has heard of Poorna and yet I think it is the most thrilling story. The story is not just about a 13-year-old girl who climbs Mount Everest, which in itself is crazy thrilling because she should have died on that mountain but it is also about a girl who is disadvantaged, comes from a tribal background, is not very well educated, is poor and is a girl. So to get out of these concentric circles, and shackles that this country puts on you and then even if she becomes a school teacher it would have been great, but for them to do this it is just mind boggling. She was 13 and she came from Telangana where there are no hills or mountains, so the combination of all the social and physical factors makes this girl the greatest human achiever,” said the Dil Dhadakne Do actor.
The entertainment industry is known for dramatising events in their films, the director confessed that it will exist in Poorna too. Nevertheless, he had kept in mind that he is dealing with the life of a young girl and thereby found his balance between drama and reality. He even made Poorna Malavath read the script before executing his plans. “We invented one character, Poorna has read the script, otherwise rest of it is — almost 80 percent — real.”
“What was tougher for me was that I was making a biopic on a 16-year-old girl who was 13 when she climbed Everest. As her life is ahead of her and one misstep by me will haunt her for the rest of her life. So I had to be very careful to balance between dramatisation and reality,” Rahul Bose added later.
Sitting right beside him was Poorna Malavath, who still seemed excited at the very thought that later this month she would have a film based on her life. ” I wanted to climb the Mt Everest, I wanted to prove that girls can do anything. I didn’t know about the world record but luckily I got that also, but no I never though I will have a film based on my life (smiles). You see I don’t watch movies much, I am not interested in watching movies, but mera movie…mera life story main hi dekhne jaa rahi hoon. ( gives an astonishing smile) I am really happy about it. I want to say thanks to Rahul sir and Praveen Kumar sir,” said Poorna.
” Thanks to Poorna,” said Rahul, “I wouldn’t be making the film otherwise.”
“Now I want to become an IPS officer. I want to serve people,” Poorna said.
“Yaar, what’s extraordinary is that she doesn’t want to climb the North Pole or go underwater, she wants to become an IPS officer and serve the poor, that is the extraordinary part of the story. This girl and what she’s learnt is the reason why the Indian cricket team, Shabana Azmi and Vidya Balan were in tears after watching the movie. When you see this film, you realise that when the system works under the tutelage of a passionate and honest officer, the right kids come up. When these things align in India, India is glorious. It is my love poem to India. It is you can do this every day so why don’t you but the truth is you do it once every 20 years.”
The trailer of Poorna had one catchy line, ‘ladkiyan kuch bhi kar sakti hai‘. On asking the director about the origin of the line, the actor made another confession. It wasn’t a line he came up with, it was something said by Poorna herself when she returned from Everest.
“When Poorna was asked why did you do it after she came back from the summit, she said ‘main dikhana chati thi ladkiyan kuch bhi kar sakti hain‘. This is Poorna’s line this is not our line, this is not an advertising line… that came straight from her mouth,” Rahul Bose said.
Soon the actor shared his view on what women really want.
“My view on feminism is very simple. I believe gender justice does not mean women need to be protected. Women want to be left free to make their own choices, then whether you want to do an item number or become a NASA scientist it is your call. The fight for gender justice is only this, leave us alone, empower us with the ability to make our own decisions. Whether they are good or bad you are not the person to judge, it is up to us.”
Talking about other challenges he faced while shooting the film, the director said, “I directed my first film, Everybody Says I’m Fine, 16 years ago in English and now I have directed Poorna, this was really challenging as you can imagine, 45 degree centigrade in Pakala village, inside a tribal hut, absolutely going insane with the heat and the dust, every day six hours drive into the forest, it was just completely sapping, Poorna was there for the first week,” he said.
” Then the 65 foot high rock where the kids are looking like little chicklets and there is no chance for a second take, because it takes two hours to go up there to take the top shot and then you come back ( that takes another two hours ) and then you come back and you have time for one more… and these kids get really really tired in the middle of this massive rock, then we went to Darjeeling, where apart from Poorna, none of them has been exposed to such cold.. it was really a tough shoot,” he added.