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Verve People
July 07, 2016

Power Inheritor: Meghna Gulzar

Text by Huzan Tata. Photograph by Prateek Patel

For tackling sensitive social issues through her work and winning accolades and awards for her directorial venture Talvar

Her father has been one of India’s greatest poets, with five National Film Awards (three for direction) in his kitty. Her mother, a top actress in the ’70s and ’80s, has been lauded for several critically-acclaimed performances. It’s no wonder then that Gulzar and Rakhee’s only child would make her mark in the world of cinema. Meghna Gulzar — who made her debut as a director with Filhaal, a film on surrogacy — helmed Talvar, 2015’s most hard-hitting film. Based on the Aarushi and Hemraj double murder case that held the nation’s attention for years, the movie struck gold at the box office, and was a favourite at film festivals. We’re waiting with bated breath for her next one.

When you see people admiring your parents or adulating them, you get a fair idea of how appreciated they are in their professional spheres. But at the end of the day, they are a mother and a father at home. My upbringing was fairly normal and there were no excesses. My mother was quite a disciplinarian and kept me rooted, though my father would pamper me a lot. Apart from the fact that they were separated, I don’t think there was anything out of the ordinary in my childhood.”

By the time I grew up, I was clear I wanted to be a film-maker, or do something in the visual field. It’s quite a coincidence, but I tend to gravitate towards content which is somewhere rooted in the society that we live in. There needs to be a connection — I get drawn to subjects that I hope resonate with the society that we’re making films for. I feel this is important.”

I wanted to bring Talvar to the big screen because cinema is a very powerful medium. There was so much haze around this case, with different kinds of conflicting information. What we tried to do is present it all in a manner where some kind of clarity could be achieved — or at least start the process for the same. The case still lacks closure; there’s a sense of incompleteness around it. We hoped that when we laid out all the facts and perspectives in a comprehensive manner — it’s been eight years since the incident and yet information came sporadically — things would become clearer.”

The biggest challenge was the huge responsibility we had, which happens when you’re making a film about a real case. The people concerned are very much alive, and there is a fine line between being critical and being derogatory. You need to observe and express objectively, which is not easy. It’s a subject that everyone thinks they know everything about, or at least claims to do so. It was quite a tightrope walk for us!”

Being selected at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) was the first break we had. And after the cinema release, the way the audience appreciated the film; our shows being increased on a Monday — which never happens with a film of this genre; the critics with their positive reviews…all of it was extremely gratifying. It took me a while to believe it — sometimes I thought it’s happening to someone else! It was very motivating.”

Read about our next power woman, Anuradha Roy.

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