The Bollywood directress who’d take on a thousand mutinies

My curiosity was piqued at the opportunity to speak with Reema Kagti, directress (and I say that proudly as a woman) of soon-to-be-released Bollywood film Talaash (The Quest), starring Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukherjee. It’s rare to find women directors even in Hollywood. Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win the Academy Award for best director for The Hurt Locker in 2010. In 2011, women made up only 5 percent of directors in Hollywood, and that’s down from 7 percent in 2010. So I wager, that with Reema joining a roll-call of other female directors in Bollywood including Farah Khan, Zoya Akthar, Leena Yadav,  Anusha Rizvi –and if you add Mira Nair who started in India–it definitely feels like Bollywood has a new incarnation. Here’s what Reema has to say about her her Inspirational Avatar.
Directed by Reema Kagti

a.  Why did you become a film-maker? I’ve always been a compulsive writer since I was eight. So I always felt I would do something with writing.  Clearly thought, the first time I knew I wanted to become a film maker was when I was studying in Delhi. I was in the ninth standard and I went to see Salaam Bombay. I saw something with Indian characters yet a story that was not masala. That’s when I knew that I wanted to become a director.
And if you had not become a film director? 
I would have become a Poker Player.
Are there similarities between the two? 
Yes they both need a lot of passion.
b. At any point did you want to give up? There have been times when I have been frustrated. Especially in the period after Honeymoon Travels, when I was finding it difficult to get Talaash off the ground that was my lowest time. In fact I had just signed up to play at the National Poker Tournament in Goa, intending to pursue it more professionally, and then Aamir called agreeing to the project.
c. What does it take to succeed in your chosen path? You need to have a passion for it. Something that pushes you to do stuff that you would not do normally, something that moves you so that you can put in all the hardwork & perseverance needed. There have been times that I felt I was not going to make it but I didn’t give up because I have been fortunate to have the support of family and friends who are like me, who are all trying to become film directors. This has made it easier for me

Reema on the sets of Talaash

d. What is the one thing you want to do before you die?
(pause) I want to make a relevant film.
Yes, relevant to my country, who I am, where I am. Something that ties my creativity to the audience….our country is at cross roads. On the brink of something beautiful and something terrible and I want to make a movie that is relevant to these changing times.
You mean the economic development of India?
Yes that but also you know there is lot of violence in our country. At any moment there are a million mutinies here …I come from the North/ Assam and there is a lot of violence here. When I was there last, I learnt that in any hour there are upto thirty six clashes in this state. I am totally against violence, but I think the government has forsaken its people with this level of violence. The situation is such that you cannot be just a film maker anymore. You are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem, there is no middle route. The challenge for me is to touch on this relevant topic but make it an entertaining & commercial film.
Talaash, starring Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor & Rani Mukerji, directed by Reema Kagti, releases November 30 in the UK.
About Laxmi Hariharan : I am a writer & technophile. It was in embracing my roots that I found my voice. Read my debut novel, The Destiny of Shaitan (Chronicle of The Three, #1) here

2 thoughts on “The Bollywood directress who’d take on a thousand mutinies

  1. Started loving Mira Nair's works (Kamasutra mostly, but also Salaam Bombay and Mississipi Masala), and now much younger Zoya Akhtar (and her twin – Hritik's dosto, LOL). Won't be able to see this, as I'll be gone from London when it comes out, but well… maybe a DVD will do – like for everything else! ;)Barb

  2. Mira Nair's works that move me are Monsoon Wedding and The Namesake. Anyway, Laxmi – what did you think of Gauri Shinde – the director of English Vinglish?Minita

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