Every time a woman makes her debut as a filmmaker, it makes heads turn. Postnoon talks to Shital Morija and Jhansi Lakshmi, director and co-producer of All I Want Is Everything, about their experience of making their first film and why it’s a big deal for them.
What was the genesis of this project?
Shital: It began with our sadness that there were no films based on women friendship, at least I haven’t seen any. If there were any, they were just scenes. Two years ago, I got interested in writing a script and that’s how I began writing the script for All I Want is Everything. I think I got tired of all the films I had been watching. Last one I saw was Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara…I liked the film, but I didn’t see any women friendship films. I was writing on and off, because I had a full time job as an Executive Producer at TV9. So, it took me about a year to finish writing.
You and Jhansi have been working closely for almost eight years now for Naveena, a show which focuses on women. I am sure you have come across hundreds of stories which were quite moving. Why not take inspiration from one of those stories since you were writing a script for a film?
Shital: I wanted to do something which wasn’t in your face. The stories we have done for Naveena are really hardcore issues. It’s not that All I Want is Everything doesn’t have such issues, but I wanted to do something fun. It all lies as a subtext. It’s about three young girls, what they want, they do, their dreams, aspirations. I think it all comes from Naveena. It’s just that I didn’t want to be very preachy.
It’s quite a bold move that you are making a film in English and that too about three women. Did you think of how people will react when they hear the story and after its release?
Shital: Not really. I think films are made with passion. Everything about it is bold. Writing a script itself is bold and we finally managed to release the film. It’s not like we wanted to do something different at every step. It was more of a natural process. Here the women are self-sufficient and modern. Not that yesteryear women were less self-sufficient, but there are lot more opportunities for women now. They can take care of themselves.
Jhansi: I think we have broken all possible formulae with this film. We don’t see films which have three women as real life characters, no heroes, no songs. It’s not a commercial film. They do have issues and problems…but they don’t have a decision making power. It’s not on the face, but you can feel it. Also, the right to say ‘no’ is one such issue. In mainstream films, it’s always the hero who woos the heroine. We have the same theme in our film, but you won’t see the hero. The film is from a girl’s perspective.
Both of you have been working on TV for a very long time. Jhansi has acted in a few films over the past few years, but for you working on a feature film is a new experience. How was the transition from TV to making a feature film?
Shital: It hasn’t been that difficult because I feel my work has always been intertwined with both the mediums. Of course, there’s a lot of difference between the two mediums. On TV, you have to be very quick and a lot of things can be done. On first day of shoot, I didn’t know that I was supposed to say ‘Packup’. Here you are the sole captain of the ship and everyone’s waiting for instructions. Thankfully, I had both Jhansi and Rekha, who were a pillar of strength for me throughout the film,
Jhansi: In 10 days, we shot the entire film. The girls rehearsed extremely well and they knew everything. The film was intended to be a 90-minute shoot. Even after four days of shoot, people working with us couldn’t come to the understanding that we were making a film. The actresses were new, Shital and I were from the TV background and it just didn’t seem like a regular feature film. Once I even heard a production boy telling his friend that a documentary was being shot. Nothing was filmy on set.
Shital: I think the project was small, but dreams were big.
Jhansi: For everyone it was a first film including the actresses, cinematographer and even music director Parsa Pehlevan Zade, who’s an Iranian.
Shital: I didn’t even want a background score for the film, but Jhansi insisted that we use at least something. So we teamed up with Parsa Pehlevan Zade to compose a soothing theme music with an acoustic guitar.
A long time ago, Nagesh Kukunoor made Rockford, Hyderabad Blues and Sekhar Kammula made Dollar Dreams. Of late, there haven’t been any films in English at least in Hyderabad. Are you trying to tread the same path?
Shital: Not really. My film is indeed Hyderabad centric, but it has got nothing to do with Hyderabad Blues or Dollar Dreams. The reason why I made a film in English is because I think in English. Of course, those films stood as reference to us when we pitched the idea of making a film in English. The odds were really high because it was a very low budget film and wanting to release the film was perhaps seemed like a crazy idea at first. A lot of people thought we had gone mad. I am just happy that it all worked out well for us.
What’s next? Have you already begun thinking about your next project?
Shital: (laughs) I am just soaking it all in, because it’s a dream come true for all of us. It has already been selected for three film festivals in India and we are keen on sending it to more film festivals later this year. The film is being screened in Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune through PVR Director’s Rare. In fact, we want to concentrate on the film till the end of the year and screen it in cities where it may not be screened in the first phase of its release and show it to as many people as possible. It’s a film made by three friends – Jhansi, Rekha Pappu and me about three women who meet at a film appreciation course.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Hemanth writes primarily about Telugu cinema, although he finds inspiration from the works of filmmakers like Woody Allen. Apart from writing, he spends most of his time on Twitter discussing about cinema, travel and life in Hyderabad.