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DIRECTOR’S CUT Tanuja Chandra
DIRECTOR’S CUT Tanuja Chandra

INTERVIEW Director of ‘Hope And A Little Sugar’, Tanuja Chandra, plans to do a commercial film next

With a wide smile on her face and clad in casual denims, Tanuja Chandra looks more a student than a movie director. Tanuja has scripted and directed films like Zakhm, Dushman and more recently Hope And A Little Sugar starring Mahima Chaudhary and Anupam Kher. In an interview, she talks about her recent film and other issues.

What is the premise of Hope And A Little Sugar?

The movie is a Muslim-Sikh love story. It is set in the US and is in English. The 9/11 attacks provide an important backdrop to the movie. It deals with the hidden insecurities present in everyone. The movie talks about rising above these differences and learning to live with each other.

Most of your earlier films had a negative thread, how different is Hope…?

Well, though Hope… has certain negative aspects like the 9/11 terror attacks that forms a very important part of the movie, we have not shown any visuals of the actual attacks. It basically is a positive story and ends on a very good note.

How was the experience of directing this film? Did you enjoy it?

Yes. It was an enriching experience. The making of the film is quite an interesting story by itself, actually. Nearly two years ago, the producer had withdrawn from the project. However, two independent American producers had chanced upon the script on the net. They contacted me and expressed their readiness to produce the movie. Most of the pre-production was done via the net. We had not even met each other in the pre-production stages. Technology helped a great deal in the production of this movie. We met the producers only once the shooting commenced.

Did working with producers based in another country cause any problems?

Well, the working culture is very different. While Americans are extremely professional and rather cold as far as work is concerned, Indians are a tad bit more emotional and may get carried away at times.

How was working with the cast of the movie? Do you prefer working with actors than stars?

Well, I faced no problems with the actors in the movie. They were very cooperative. As far as even the top stars as concerned, I try to mould their characters in my style. I do not cast them in stereotypical roles.

As a woman director, have you faced any problems?

I have faced certain obstacles and problems, but that has mainly been due to my ideas and the script. Many producers have backed out of my films, because they are not sure about the commercial viability of my films. In fact, the producer of Zindagi Rocks had inserted many unnecessary song sequences into the film in an attempt to make it ‘commercially viable’. The film did not do well at the box office.

How has the journey from scriptwriting to movie direction been?

I always wanted to be a director. Scriptwriting is the more difficult of the two jobs. Even now, it takes more time to write a script for a movie. Direction is comparatively an easier task.

Most of your films have been critically acclaimed, though they have not met with commercial success. Do you plan to make a commercial film soon?

I have been asked this question many times. My next directorial venture will be a love story. It is a movie aimed at the masses. The cast has not been decided yet, but it will be announced soon.

NIKHIL VARMA

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