Nandita Das spoke to Chandi Mukherjee at the Kolkata Film Festival, where her directorial debut Firaaq was screened
Acting in cinema was already a way of thinking cinema and thinking about cinema. To me acting was already a way of making films, for the difference between acting and directing is quantitative not qualitative. As an actor I was always interested in various aspect of film making. Actually directing has been at the back of my mind for
Almost six-seven years, it got serious some four years ago when I started working on a script.
And that was Firaaq?
For Firaaq, Gujarat violence compelled me to direct the film. This is not the first time a community has been targeted specifically. It happened after Indira Gandhis assassination. I couldnt react to it that time. I was too young. But this time I am reacting to it through celluloid. So I made Firaaq.
What is the outline of the Firaaq?
Firaaq means both separation and quest. I have kept both the meaning. It is a search for harmony in our fragmented life. Its located in Gujarat but I am not pointing figure I am trying to make a human relation film. I am giving a human face to what violence does to people, Firaaq came out of innumerable conversation, with people from different walks of life, on identity shifts, prejudices and violence.
As a women director, has it been a special experience or problematic?
There is no difference whether you are a women or man. Its how you handle people is what counts. From the kind of background I come, people are not concern whether you are a man or woman. I think by now this gender business has virtually ceased to matter. Worth more women directors around, we are no longer the oddities.
But as an actor you have become a spokesperson for the rural women.
Right, they say I have become a spokesperson for rural women. I feel happy about it. You know, Mrinal-da (Mrinal Sen) used to say that I am look like a Malayali in a Malayalam film, and a Tamilian in a Tamil film and Bengali in a Bengali film actually my father is from Orissa and my mother from Gujarat and I have learnt many languages from childhood.
What is your first preference, acting or direction?
I like to think that directing is an extension of acting. Actor and director in me cannot be separated. Actually I enjoy both. I began acting because it was to convey what I feel strongly about. And direction is a Cathartic experience.
What are your recent releases as an actor?
Marathi film Maati by Chitra Palekar, Mehreen Jabbers Ramchand Pakistani that premiered at the Tribeca Festival, and Santosh Sivans Before Rains that premiered at Toronto festival.