Minister mom’s daughter would rather make social filmsMarch 16th, 2008 - 12:22 pm ICT by admin
By Azera Rahman
New Delhi, March 16 (IANS) She is the mirror image of her mother, Renuka Chowdhury, the women and child development minister. But politics, Poojita says, is something she is not interested in. It’s social issues that keep pumping adrenaline of this budding documentary filmmaker who is about to release her third film. “Being in politics is a calling in life. It’s a lifelong commitment and that hasn’t really translated into an interest for me,” Poojita told IANS over a chat in her Lodhi Estate residence in south Delhi.
“I am happy making films on issues I feel strongly about. Women’s issues in particular are something I am very passionate about and all my films till now are on that subject,” she said.
A no-nonsense, no attitude person, Poojita’s journey to filmmaking happened quite by chance.
“I was a student of political science, psychology and literature at my graduation level. After that I got into advertising and left it after six months…I didn’t enjoy it at all,” she laughed.
“It was then that I met Vinta Nanda, quite by co-incidence, and she just mentioned in passing that I should probably assist her in her film ‘White Noise’. That was the beginning of my journey into filmmaking and I totally loved and learned a lot from that experience,” Poojita said.
Since that moment back in 2003, there has been no looking back for Poojita who churned out her first film, “Sand in my Nostrils” in 2004 - a film which deals with the issue of female foeticide.
“‘Sand In My Nostrils’ took me to various places in Punjab where female foeticide is rampant. I particularly remember a visit to an abortion clinic where female foetuses were buried in flowerpots…the entire experience was unnerving,” she said.
Produced by the Broadcasting for Change Network, a unique group of international broadcasters and producers founded by the Television for Environment (TVE), Poojita’s film was part of a host of short documentaries made on socially relevant issues.
Talking about the title of her maiden venture, Poojita said that it was part of a poem that she had written more than a decade ago.
“The line ’sand in my nostrils’ was a part of a poem that I had written when I was 18. In fact I had used a lot of lines from my poem in the script of the film,” she said.
Her next film, “Gender Bender” was more like a reply to her first film. To the grim picture painted in the first film about the status of women in the country, this one showed women doing unconventional jobs which are generally considered male bastions.
“A woman bulldozer driver, barber or priest are not conventional, everyday scenes. But by portraying these women in my film, I wanted to give parents the message that your girl can do whatever your son can.
“No matter how crude it sounds, people have to be made to realise that they can invest in their daughters like in their sons because both are equally capable,” Poojita said.
“Queens Of The Grassroots”, her third film, which is about women panchayat leaders in the rural areas of Punjab, is due to be launched March 18 this year.
“People have this perception that women panchayat leaders who get elected through reservation are more like a rubber stamp because all their decisions are actually their husbands’ or male family members’.
“But in this film I have shown three women panchayat leaders who have stood against the wind to develop their village, either by building schools, hospitals or installing water pumps. Because women are more grounded to realities, their initiatives actually help the masses,” Poojita said.
Besides women’s issues, environment and preservation of monuments are two subjects that Poojita feels strongly about and plans to make movies on in the future.
“The thing about documentaries is that it’s very real. You are dealing with real life people, not actors, and you have no script. That’s the challenge. I might dabble with feature films in the future but for that I need more time,” she said.
Does it help that she and her mother deal with similar kind of issues, one in films and the other in the ministry?
“We discuss a lot of these issues and quite often volley interesting ideas to each other. But working with my mom and making a film on women’s issues for the ministry is out of question.
“That’s because people are never going to take it in the right spirit…they will say that the mother is trying to promote her daughter or something like that. I am happy working independently,” Poojita said.
(Azera Rahman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)