By Hindustan Times
Mumbai, April 7 –
How did it feel to have The Hurt Locker bag six Oscars, two for you personally, for Best Motion Picture and Best Director?
It was the best gift I could have ever imagined and I'm overwhelmed by every response I've received. There's no way to describe it. It was the moment of a lifetime! First woman director to win an Oscar, a BAFTA, a Guild of America Award...
Will your pioneering achievement help the cause of women in Hollywood?
Thanks for all the beautiful words but I just think of myself as a filmmaker and wish that some day this gender difference will not be a part of human beings. If I could motivate young blood to tell good stories, I'd be gratified.
During a recent interview, Mira Nair admitted that Hollywood was still a boy's club. Would you agree?
Not completely, but to an extent, yes. Last year, female directors knocked out hits like The Proposal, Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, It's Complicated and Julie & Julia. And actresses outperformed most of their male counterparts. Still, you can't deny that it's really hard to get finance for a movie directed by a female director because the industry thinks that most of them have risen to power by directing (and often writing) films that appeal only to women, whether or not that's their natural inclination. Of course, that's not true.
Twenty years as a director and just 10 films. Would the number have gone up had you been a man?
Never! Like James (Cameron) I believe in quality and not numbers. He took 12 years to come up with Avatar. For me, the time period was seven years with The Hurt Locker. I turned one of journalist - screenwriter Mark Boal's articles into a TV series - The Inside. That took a fair amount of time. Then, in 2004, two years after K-19, I learnt that he was going off to Baghdad with a bomb squad. That war had been under-reported and I was hopeful he'd come back with some material worthy of a cinematic translation. He did and we started scripting in 2005, raised the money in 2006, shot in 2007, cut it in 2008, and came to the theatres in 2009. What people don't realise is how long a film can take in development.
The Middle East is a male-dominated society though Jordan, where you shot, is definitely more progressive. What was it like for you, a woman, filming there?
It was cheaper to shoot in the Middle East and as an independent filmmaker; budget was a major concern. Jordan is a secular, westernised country as compared to Iraq, and in some of the outer neighbourhoods, we received lots of support and receptivity. We filmed one sequence in a Palestinian refugee camp. As soon as we started, a crowd of young guys gathered, rocks were thrown and a few fights broke out. We filmed through it all. They soon realised that we were just doing the same shot, over and over, and started to applaud at the end of each take.
You filmed with a lot of Iraqi refugees including prisoners of war. What's the plight of women and girl children in these war camps?
I couldn't get access into the Palestinian war camps but they are more or less the same in every country. There is extreme poverty and lack of resources but at least they are out of the war zone. All of our extras were Iraqi actors and two of them had been prisoners of the Americans in Iraq. Ironically, they played prisoners too in my film. That was surreal - and a little uncomfortable - but they laughed and said that they were happy to work. I was overwhelmed that somehow we could help each other.
How much of the script relived Mark Boal's experiences as a journalist covering Baghdad?
I tried to do justice with the first hand familiarity of Mark's dreadful experience there but there were lots of blood scenes in the initial draft that were too violent to show. We finalised the script after 17 drafts.
A lot has been said about Jeremy Renner's 100- pound bomb suit that he had to wear all day in 115 degrees. How did you cope with the blistering heat?
It was really punishing for Jeremy. I was sensitive to his needs and his oxygen levels but there's only so much you can do. In June, the temperature was up to 135 degree Fahrenheit and we felt like we were standing in front of an overheated car with the hood up. The blast of hot air hit you all day, everyday.
There's talk of you doing a Godzilla remake. Will you go the 3D way too?
What Godzilla? I'm not planning anything in 3D as of now.
What about The Miraculous Year and Triple Frontier?
Shhhhhh... Can't say anything on them yet.
Okay, one last question: Will you ever direct a simple, fairytale romance? Incidentally, what is your idea of love?
I would love to direct movies in different genres that would give me a chance to explore my skills. Love is an expression to tell your loved ones how you feel about him or her. It's a universal experience yet every individual occurrence while bound by a common thread, is absolutely unique. Love is what love is.To everyone, it expresses itself differently.