Following the success of her Oscar-winning documentary ‘Smile Pinki’, director Megan Mylan has come up with another India-based story in ‘After My Garden Grows’, about a teenage girl Monika in rural Bengal seeking independence by growing a tiny rooftop vegetable garden.
Mylan has been to India for six-seven times and says she “never had an unpleasant moment” and the response to ‘Smile Pinki’, about a girl who gets to smile after a free cleft-lip operation, encouraged her to return.
“In ‘After My Garden Grows’, Monika avoids becoming a child bride by growing her own garden. She has become an asset instead of a burden to her family. She is bringing food to the table,” Mylan told PTI in an interview.
“I am attracted to ideas of social change and stories about people who are going through intense life defining moments. My movies are very solution-driven. I want there to be some hopefulness. Change is happening everywhere in India and documenting that is exciting,” she added.
The 10-minute-long documentary is releasing tomorrow in nine cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Ahmedabad, Gurgaon and Hyderabad through PVR cinemas.
Mylan, whose film is helped by Sundance Film Institute in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has also found support from Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, Aamir Khan and Sabyasachi.
The New York-based director shot some 10-hours of footage for the short film.
“I was shooting before and after ‘Pinki’ and then I had a baby so short films are working really well for me right now. Each film is like a child for a director and this child left home early. Another great thing about short films is that there is an ease in sharing them. It is easy to tell people to watch short films,” she says.
Mylan, 45, says it is not always easy to bridge the language barrier but Monika was a surprise.
“When I was shooting ‘Smile Pinki’ it was difficult. I was the only foreigner that Pinki and her mother had seen as they never left the village. But there is a lot that has changed in five years. Monika is very savvy and plugged to her cell phone constantly though she does not have enough credit to make calls.”
Mylan now plans to produce short stories on gender issues with the directors from India, Bangladesh and Nepal. She is also planning a documentary on how Japan cares for its elders.
The director started her career by working with an non-profit organisation Ashoka before turning to documentary making.
She has previously directed ‘Lost Boys of Sudan’, ‘Batidania’, Oscar-nominated ‘Long Night’s Journey Into Day’ and ‘Sing Faster’. She recently completed ‘Raca’, a documentary on Brazil’s struggle for racial equality.