Movies

There’s a Jaya in every household, says filmmaker Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari on ‘Panga’

Kangana Ranaut in a scene from ‘Panga’

Kangana Ranaut in a scene from ‘Panga’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The director discusses her fourth film ‘Panga’ that stars Kangana Ranaut as a Kabaddi player, which releasing tomorrow

“Being a mother of two, I’ve always been asked this question: ‘Who takes care of the household?’. They send you on a guilt trip, as if the onus is on you,” shrugs Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari. This could perhaps be the reason why she decided to make Panga, wherein Jaya (Kangana Ranaut), a former Kabaddi player who sacrifices her dreams for her family and makes a comeback at 32, is bombarded with similar questions. Panga, perhaps, is Ashwiny’s most personal movie yet. Excerpts from an interview:

Panga’s framework appears to be both slice-of-life and sports drama...

It’s a story that is relevant today. In any household, it’s the mother/wife who takes care of the family. Most women give up their career to take up a permanent job: motherhood. These are rules laid by patriarchal society. There seems to be a perception that women can’t perform physically post pregnancy. However, Serena Williams and Sania Mirza returned to sports and emerged victorious. That’s what we are discussing in Panga.

 

Does the ‘rise of the underdog’ template pose a threat for you?

Not at all. Our stories change according to the mood of the nation. There’s an underdog story in every movie. In today’s scenario, middle class is the new India. That’s why most of us are going back to our roots. That’s why mainstream filmmakers are telling stories from the heartland of India.

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Was there a particular reason why you chose kabaddi?

It came from the studio. Also, it’s because kabaddi is taken less seriously in India, and football seems to be the new craze among millennials. However, kabaddi is gaining prominence because of Pro-Kabaddi League. It’s not an individualistic game — it’s as if the entire team is rooting for that one person to win. What I realised when writing Panga, was that kabaddi follows the same mechanism as a jungle, where the lioness goes for hunting.

That is an interesting take. Was this the brief you gave Kangana Ranaut?

No, it keeps evolving. When you brief talented actors like Kangana, you have to get into the protagonist’s head. And then comes the premise. At the same time, I shouldn’t be feeding too much of information as well. I need to ensure that we’re on the same page, in terms of thought process.

Your movies are strongly rooted in language and culture. In fact, there is a heart-warming scene involving Neena Gupta in Panga’s trailer. How do you bring in these nuances into your characters?

Most often, our movies try to ape the West. Take any movie coming from China or Japan [Shoplifters], it is rooted in their culture. They don’t shy away from talking about their ethos and issues. Our country doesn’t live in the metros. We have shot in five cities for Panga. I make it a point to imbibe every little detail from each city.

Jasdeep Singh Gill is an interesting choice of cast...

Yes. He is a familiar name in Punjab and I wanted him for this movie. In a way, I like to challenge myself. In the sense that, Nil Battey Sannata had Pankaj Tripathi playing a light-hearted role. Which was again the case with Bareilly Ki Barfi. I like to bring in actors who are less talked about. Later, if they do well in movies, it gives a satisfying feeling as if I achieved something.

What were some of the stereotypes you faced as a director?

People always had doubts about my craft, despite having worked in the advertisement industry for 16 years and having directed over 300 commercials. It has always been the question of whether I would be able to pull off such a feat. This, I think, arises because I am a woman.

‘Every mother deserves a second chance’ seems like the underlying message of Panga. Did you stand a second chance?

Of course. I quit ad-films to get into mainstream cinema. My maasi started pursing her dream at the age of 62. The larger point of Panga is...there is a Jaya in every household. That Jaya steps back to see others win.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 10:52:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/ashwiny-iyer-tiwari-interview/article30633290.ece

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