I've learnt from my father to be economical with words: Meghna Gulzar
The director, whose Raazi gets a release today, talks about her film
He is an iconic poet, lyricist, and filmmaker known for films like Maachis and Aandhi. She is a writer and film director known for making her debut with a subject like surrogacy in Filhaal 15 years ago. The approach and treatment of storytelling are what set father Gulzar and daughter Meghna poles apart creatively, but the latter says she has picked up the art of expressing thoughts in a few words from him.
Asked about the influence of her father, Meghna says, "When it comes to filmmaking, our cinema is very different, our storytelling is different. But yes, he has influenced me a lot personally. I know that consciously that I have taken one thing from him and that is to keep things simple. I have learnt to be economical with words... If I can use three words to express something, I shouldn't be using seven words for that."
Gulzar has written the lyrics for her new directorial venture Raazi, which has also marked the first time that Meghna has collaborated with the music director trio Shankar-Eshaan-Loy. "Those song sessions were magical. This is the first time I have worked with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and I was so impressed to see how nicely they are in sync with each other. They do not discuss too much. They play their instruments, and do things in their way separately, wearing their headphones. But it sounds as if it is one. It's magical to see that. They are so perfect that I got every song within five hours. Four of them (including Gulzar) sitting together, writing lyrics, composing the tune, preparing the song and it was ready."
Raazi, which released today, is based on the book Calling Sehmat, and is set in 1971, the year when India and Pakistan fought a war. Alia Bhatt plays a young Kashmiri girl who gets married to a Pakistani Army officer -- essayed by Vicky Kaushal -- and becomes an undercover agent to protect her own country.
Meghna says she felt the need of establishing the socio-political context as a part of the narration to give the audience a clear picture. "I think putting the historical context in the film was very important to amplify the sense of urgency that leads a father to send his daughter to the neighbouring country, knowing that he is putting her in a risk. Our story goes on till the 1971 war starts."
The filmmaker did extensive research work on the subject before writing the script. "It was a very interesting situation where East Pakistan wanted liberation to become Bangladesh, India was there in that dynamic and there was West Pakistan that wanted control over East Pakistan. For nine months, the situation was brewing before the war broke out finally. Both India and Pakistan were waiting for the other to take the first step," says Meghna.
This is not the first time that Meghna is directing a film based on a real-life inspired account. Her last release Talvar was based on the Aarushi Talwar Noida double murder case that took place in 2008. While the film received a lot of praise for its performance and storytelling, it faced some criticism for not offering anything new beyond what was available in the public domain.
So, is she ready to take criticism this time as well? "If you are not open to people's perspective and opinion, I think you have no business of putting forward your own perspective."