A passage into the world of cinema

'I don't think a movie should be a coaching class'

A passage into the world of cinema

Indo-canadian director Brinda Muralidhar has made a stunning debut with her film ‘Knot Not’. The Mysore-born artiste has over 25 years of acting experience in mainstream theatre and has also created and directed several TV commercials, short films and stage productions. In the city for BIFFES, Brinda talks to Rajitha Menon about her growing up years and her love for theatre.

How did your association with the stage start?

My uncle was a professional company theatre artiste way back in the 1920s and 30s and went on to produce many films later. My father caught the bug of theatre from his brother and wrote and directed Kannada plays that played at the Mysore Town Hall. He used to train and teach people for these plays and most of my childhood was spent watching these acting classes, rehearsals and theatre talks.

When did you start performing yourself?

When I was in school, I got an audition call from ‘Samudaya’, a progressive theatre group. I went on to play the protagonist in many of their Kannada adaptations of English plays. Incidentally, that is where I met my husband, Gunny Muralidhar. He was one of the quirkiest actors I had seen and we worked together on stage for couple of years, before deciding to tie the knot.

After marriage, we went to Dubai. We stayed there for 4-5 years but did nothing related to theatre. Nobody even knew about our theatre background. Then my husband wanted to go to North America to pursue his IT career but I was very reluctant. And then he gave me an irresistible offer — if I agreed, we would bring my parents over to stay with us and I can go back to theatre. I am glad I agreed.

How did the progression to cinema happen?

I started dabbling in short films and documentaries from 2006 onwards. My first documentary was about how the ‘Kannada Sangha Toronto’ was born.  It is a socio-cultural organisation for people from Karnataka and was our first stage. The documentary also explored the many aspects of immigrant lifestyle — rampant racism, difficulty in passing on our language and culture to our children and so on — and opened my eyes to the different issues around us. Once he saw the documentary, my husband asked me to make the progression from the stage to the screen.

How did you get the idea for your film ‘Knot Not’?

Once my husband spontaneously enacted a funny scene for me. Though I laughed my head off at that time, later when we discussed it, there emerged a deeply disturbing storyline. Though it is usual for marriages to have their ups and downs, sometimes they are held together only because of the efforts of one spouse. I wondered why there were so many failed marriages, so much pain in relationships and from that, ‘Knot Not’ was born. It is a layered story with a complex subject but not preachy; I don’t think a movie should be a coaching class. It is up to the audience to take the message.

Do you think there is a lack of women directors?

I think there is a lack of opportunities for the many women directors out there because it is hard to get people to take us seriously.

Thoughts about Indian cinema...

I wasn’t a film buff initially; in fact, I still haven’t seen some iconic movies like ‘Sholay’. I used to look down upon films but that has drastically changed now because of the rapid strides Indian cinema has made. The ways in which we are telling our stories is very different and much more engaging now and the many interesting subjects that are coming up only add to this charm.

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