‘I didn’t choose Taapsee & Bhumi, they chose me’

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‘I didn’t choose Taapsee & Bhumi, they chose me’

Sunday, 06 October 2019 | Shalini Saksena

‘I didn’t choose Taapsee & Bhumi, they chose me’

Shalini Saksena speaks with director Tushar Hiranandani about thechallenges faced while making a biopic and how they arrived at the name for the film Saand Ki Aankh

How and who came up with this name for the movie?

It was Jagdip Sidhu, the dialogue writer. When he suggested the name there was a bit of a no-no. Anurag Kashyap (producer) was a bit apprehensive to begin with. The name is a take off from bullseye. But over a period of time we liked the sound to it. Also, the name has several connotations. It denotes the feat that the dadis achieved at age 65. It signifies that we have got everything right. We were clear where we wanted to go with this movie and title of the movie. We thought it was catchy.

How did the idea for the biopic come up?

It was after I saw the programme Satymev Jayate S 1 by Aamir Khan, that had done a feature on old age and profiled the dadis and their journey. I was at that time already looking for a story. While watching the show, I started crying, I hadn’t even realised that I was crying. That is when I knew I had my subject. It took me five years to put it out. My film is about woman empowerment. My wife came on-board as a producer and quit her job.

Why did it take five years?

It took me one-and-a-half years to write. When we met the dadis I realised that my story was a bit dark. But the dadis were so lively, they had so much enthusiasm and fun. They was so much excitement in them. They at age 65 had celebrated their live. I wanted to make a film on celebrating the women. Through them, their family also celebrates life. We took our time to write our story. The next three years were spent to get the cast in place. Everyone in my team has stood by me.

What are the challenges in making a biopic?

There are three things that are important. First, to keep the family and person on whom you are making the film on happy. Second, the producers. To make them proud and make them money as well. Third, the actors who are playing the character. That they get some recognition and get applauded for it. The trailer was released last week. I was so happy to see the dadis’ reaction. They blessed me and hugged me. This made my day. After all this, comes the fact that the movie needs to entertain. The biopic should be  able to tell the true story and yet entertain.

In this sense, how tough was this project since it is your directorial debut?

Filmmaking is tough. Anyone who says it is easy, he is lying. There is no film that is easy to make. The only thing is how fast these five years have gone by. I have enjoyed every bit of it. There were some days of frustration. Some days when things didn’t go our way and didn’t know were we were going. But the journey has been great. I hope when the people see the film, they appreciate the effort gone into it.

Why Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar?

Every media person I have been interviewed with has asked this question. I have this answer pat down. I have a memory button that I am going to activate. I went to everyone but these girls were the only ones who had the courage to accept the role. I didn’t choose them, they chose me. The film starts not from age 65 but from the time when they were young. It is this journey that I wanted to show. While shooting, one needs a keen eye. I needed young girls since there is a catch line — tann buddha hota hain, mann buddha nahin. I have paid homepage to Mother India in my film. Nargis played the role of a mother when she was young. I am not saying that we have Mother India. People should applaud these girls.

How true to life is the film?

It is as true to life as it can be. The movie has to entertain. So some characters are fictional. Some scenes are fictional as well. Some scenes like the competition and the time when they shot at the bullseyes — all that is true.

You shot the film in the village. Were there any challenges?

Not at all. We shot near the dadis’ house for 30 days. The actors had to meet the dadis. I wanted to meet the family. The crew was so happy to interact with the family and the dadis. They were so helpful. If this help had not been extended, I would not have been able to make this film. Some scenes even have the villagers and the family in it. I wanted to showcase that India is not poor as well. The village is so beautiful, this is what I wanted to show.

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