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Love across the border May 24, 2008

Posted by lollywoodhungama in Uncategorized.
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Nandita Das on her debut in Ramchand Pakistani, her maiden directorial venture, and more. RANA SIDDIQUI

It takes some doing to be in the fray in the Hindi film world without being a part of Page three parties and Bollywood-inspired fashion shows. Acclaimed actor Nandita Das knows that quite well. Affable and accessible, Nandita is more often chased by directors rather than vice versa.

 

Recently, she made news with her debut in the Pakistani film, Ramchand Pakistani, scheduled to be released shortly. Excerpts from an interview on the film, and more.

 

What made you agree to Ramchand Pakistani?

 

I have been part of a number of Indo-Pak peace initiatives for quite a few years now. Being part of Salman Ahmed’s Ghoom Tana was a small part of that journey. Ramchand Pakistani is the second creative effort. I have known the film’s director, Mehreen Jabbar, since the first Kara Film Festival in Karachi, where my Bawander was screened. About a year ago we met again as I was travelling to the U.S. and she wanted to shoot a short film in New York City. I deeply appreciated her sensitivity and working style. When she offered me Ramchand Pakistani, I had more than one reason for wanting to do it.

 

Tell us something about the film and your character?

It is about a Hindu Dalit family living on the India-Pakistan border that is torn apart because Ramchand, a seven year-old, and his father, accidentally cross the border. I play Champa, a Hindu Dalit woman from Pakistan’s Sindh region.

 

Most films on Indo-Pak issues propagate clichéd ideas. How is this one different?

 

A lot of the animosity between the two countries is due to the perceptions projected by the media and the governments. Ramchand Pakistani is relevant to both countries, and I truly hope that the film gets a proper release. I’m sure the people of both countries will be able to relate to the film. The story wouldn’t have been too different had it been shot on this side of the border.

 

How different was the experience?

 

It was a huge challenge for Mehreen to put together a project like this. I often forgot I was in another country! Because I have shot in various parts of India, where the language, food and culture are so different. I understood the language, and the food was familiar, though with a little more meat than I am used to! I made many new friends.

 

What about your directorial debut?

 

It’s called Firaaq (In Such Times). When I started scripting, I realised there were experiences that had inadvertently woven themselves in. And then, there were others that I wanted to share with my audiences. As I began researching and putting my thoughts together, I felt a collaborator would help me streamline my thoughts and also add to the skills of writing. Shuchi Kothari, who teaches script writing at Auckland University, was apt.

 

Tell us about the starcast

 

**It has Naseeruddin Shah, Paresh Rawal, Raghubir Yadav and Deepti Naval, whom I thought would be perfect even at the scripting stage. I’m also happy to have found Sanjay Suri, Shahana Goswami, Nowaz, Tisca Chopra and many others who have given their best.

 

Have your social concerns taken a back seat?

 

Not exactly. I have continued with my human rights work, mainly dealing with women’s issues and sectarian violence. I have also been part of the India-Pakistan peace initiatives SAHR (South Asians for Human Rights).

 

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