'A woman is more resilient than a man'

Ace Director

Attending a retrospective of her films is not something new for Aparna Sen. 

“Last time it was in Munich,” she says in a modest tone while attending the Habitat Film Festival. The festival screened some of the brilliant work of the sensitive director who is known for the strong portrayal of characters, especially women, and bringing out intense emotions to which audience can easily relate to. 

But the immensely talented director says, every time she sees her own film at these festivals all she ‘notices are mistakes’. 

“Either the print is bad or subtitles can’t be read, or I should have shot the scene differently. With every film you make a fresh set of mistakes. You always know how you should have made a film. As Hitchcock famously said, ‘You see mistakes in your film only after you have finished making it’,” says Aparna, giving the example of Mr and Mrs Iyer where she  realised that the college girl who protested against the terrorist, as a reminder of violence should have had a black eye.

According to her, the best kind of work comes from personal experiences. “Whether it is your own life or something that you have witnessed, and then your imagination also comes into play. Al three together give any piece of art a ring of truth,” says Aparna drawing reference to 36 Chowringee Lane.

 “There could have been an old man who is an Anglo Indian teacher, but I had no experience of boys school. I don’t know what kind of mischief boys do. It was easier for me to fall back on my own experience which I have seen in the girls school. I have seen how Anglo Indian ladies behave. So, it was easy for me to recapture that. Similarly, most of the youngsters in my time had no place to make out. I had seen,” she says, instantly clarifying, “Not that I was a part of it  because I was married by that time. For me it was easy to fall back on those experiences. Then my imagination added to all in the film.”

Indirectly, it adds to her for­te of making women-centric films. “I think a woman is more resilient than a man. Paroma was a feminist film where the protagonist finds her own identity which is defined by her adulterous affair with a young man. Every relationship crumbles and she tries to take her life. She takes a look into her own life and emerges as a totally different woman. In the present context it is important for a woman to have financial independence to control her life. Similarly, Goynar Baksho is about three generations of women and their changing relationship with a box of jewel. Though it is a comedy, it talks about women’s relationship to wealth,” says Aparna. But she points out that Mr and Mrs Iyer is not woman-centric.

 “It is how in the course of a journey sometimes you discover a certain strength you didn’t know you had. The relationship Meenakshi had is very transient but very powerful. In the end when people want this couple to be together inspite of their different castes, is what I have wanted,” she says. This also explains her kind of filmmaking which is about exploring different facets of a person, going deep into their psychology.

 “Personally, what is apparent in a person doesn’t interest me much but what a person is deep down inside is important to me,” she says.

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