'We think every film festival is the same'

'We think every film festival is the same'

Busy year

'We think every film festival is the same'

Not one to refrain from speaking her mind, actor Tannishtha Chatterjee’s words echo the harsh reality that is India today. She says that in an over-populated country likes ours, education is of the utmost importance, regardless of the field one is studying in. But just going to school is not enough. According to the ‘Shadows of Time’ actor, a creative bend is needed. “One needs to be well-versed in different fields. Right now, we are aping the West, the trash of the West.”

Tannishtha will next be seen in ‘Gour Hari Dastaan: The Freedom File’. She says that she chose the script because it holds some relevance to the present.

The film is about Gour Hari Das, who struggles for 32 years to prove that he participated in the freedom movement.

Calling the situation “ironic”, she adds, “It is a reflection of the society as it is today. We don’t celebrate public, intellectual figures, instead we worship politics, Bollywood and cricket. As they quietly go about their work, the media sits in a cocoon and avoids them.” She is of the opinion that the masses aren’t interested in listening to stories like that of Gour Hari Das.

Alongside the August release, she has a couple of more projects lined up. Among them is ‘UnIndian’, an Australian film that also stars cricketer Brett Lee. Another film, which stands proof that the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) still has some juice left, is ‘Island City’. It is the baby of FTII graduate Ruchika Oberoi and a three-part story.

 “Vinay Pathak is the lead of the first story and I, for the final one. It talks about Mumbai and some lonely souls in it. I play a girl who is leading life without experiencing it or even thinking. She just does everything her family says. Then, she gets an anonymous letter that describes her with the perfect words; it’s everything she has always wanted to hear. That letter changes her life,” she says.

She adds that although she is living her life to its best and “having a blast”, she relates to her character in some ways.

‘Island City’ has been chosen for the Venice Film Festival but Tannishtha thinks that people don’t get the magnanimity of such news.

 “The problem in India is that we don’t understand the value of such news. We think every film festival is the same, but they aren’t. Like in tennis, there are four grandslam tournaments that can’t be compared to the others, the Venice Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival are the best. They are in a league of their own.”

Not one to venture into mainstream, ‘masala’ movies, she says that there is a common misconception about parallel cinema.

 “There is this constant competition between the mainstream and parallel cinema. People think that only mainstream movies can be funny and full of energy, but they are wrong.” She adds that the narrative of films, whether linear or non-linear, needs to take on issues that require some thinking.

“Now, we are miming the values of the West. There are many good things about their culture, but we aren’t taking that. Instead we are doing the reverse and taking to trash like fastfood culture. We are capable of growing organic food, but we take to genetically modified crops instead, without realising the harm they cause.”

Continuing on the subject, she adds, “Kids these days don’t relate to nature, but  to their iPads. Yes, technology is helpful and eases the communication gap, but one needs to relate to nature. It is something that is big; we don’t need to protect it, the earth knows how to
protect itself. Instead, we need to take care of ourselves.”

Tannishtha is also working on a Hollywood film called ‘Lion’, with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel. She is particularly fond of this because it addresses issues of caste, race, identity and more.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox