Leena Yadav, Giving voice to women!

Filmmaker LEENA YADAV talks about the hurdles of making a woman centric film in India like PARCHED, in an exclusive conversation with SHUBARNA MUKHERJI SHU.

We see you every 5 years, we would love to see more Leena Yadhav movies. Why are you depriving us?
l Yes I am on a 5year plan!

More effectively working than our government… however talking about the film, will you be able to say it gets easier for a woman director to make movies as years pass by?
l More than easy, I don’t think I have faced problems being a woman director. It is more difficult however to make a film on women even today. Everyone wanted to know who the hero of the film is. If the lead actors are girls then they have to be at least B-listers. When I started working on PARCHED, Radhika Apte wasn’t as big a name as she is today. A lot has happened with her this year.

How did Ajay Devgn come on board?
l We were so clear that we wanted to make a film on these lines, that’s when Mr. Devgn came on board. I was just doing an interview wherein they asked me if it helps to have a star endorse the film. I would like to make it clear out here itself that Mr. Devgn is not endorsing the film, he is part of the film from the word go. Aseem has worked a lot with him, and I too have had a short stint with him. He is doing the craziest thing but he was very gracious to give us his support. When we had him, Aseem and I got a new energy to make this film happen. It was really tough, but then tough things get the most beautiful things in life.

When you can’t be playing to the gallery and yet there is a lot of pressure to make it people pleasing. Was it tough?
l We were producing it ourselves, how liberating could it be. When I started off writing it, I didn’t want it to be a pitiful portrayal of women. I have met women who have suffered but don’t let their scars dominate their lives. I remember I had met this woman once, who has visible bruises and was laughing away. I asked her about the scars and how she had got them. She said, ‘I don’t want to talk about it because I am having so much fun.’ But it is easier said than done cause when you are penning about a character that gets beaten up in one scene and then going ahead and having a big laugh in the next is very tough. It is a very thin line you are walking and you don’t know if it is translating onto screen. While taking up such topics, the biggest questions is
how can you make a film about something so depressing with such an uplifting feel to it?

What was the biggest hurdle?
l I had too many brilliant artists in one film. Down to the spot boys… everyone was so driven about it. Yes there were many hurdles, many mountains to climb but we were helmed so beautifully by Aseem Bajaj.

A year gap between the release internationally and the one in India. Plus the piracy. Very unfortunate isn’t it?
l It is unfortunate but it is the reality we have to live with. It is not about me, at all. The audience has to take a stand. People who watch it on torrents will watch it on torrents. You have to live with it. At least I had the pleasure of seeing my film release before it happened.