Now Deepa Mehta's brother makes documentary on Indian widows
By Subhash K. Jha
Mumbai, May 1 (IANS) Inspired by Deepa Mehta's Oscar-nominated film "Water", her brother Dilip Mehta has done a documentary on the lives of widows from across India and says unlike his sibling he didn't face any problem in making it.
Entitled "The Forgotten Woman", the documentary moves from the dying derelict widows of Varanasi to the young widows of the soldiers who died in the 1999 Kargil war.
" 'Water' certainly galvanised me to make this feature length documentary. The inspiration came entirely from the widows themselves," Dilip, whose documentary was screened at the Dubai International Film Festival in December last year, told IANS.
In 2000, when Deepa planned to shoot the plight of abandoned widows in Vrindavan and Varanasi, radical political activists drove her out of the country. Deepa finally made her film in 2003. She shot it in Sri Lanka with John Abraham, Lisa Ray and Seema Biswas in the lead roles.
Making the documentary was a smooth ride for Dilip. "There were no obstacles whatsoever. The only obstacle was my own state of mind which was emotionally churned each and every time I focussed on the tragedy of the women - women who for no fault of theirs were marginalised by tradition, society and their own families," he said.
Dilip says he had no problems in getting these abandoned women to talk.
"On the contrary every widow whom I filmed and who agreed to speak on camera was forthright. There was invariably an outpouring of their souls of emotions that were scarred, of feelings that were suppressed, of hopes and dreams that remained unfulfilled," said Dilip, who has just completed a comedy, to offset the mood of deep melancholy which "The Forgotten Woman" evoked within him.
"The documentary for me was mirror to my soul, to my fears and to my own ignorance of the enormous social injustice. The feature drama required delving into a different level of myself.
"Although 'What's Cooking Stella?' is a light comedy dealing with the disparity between the haves and have-nots and the inequality of the 'upstairs downstairs' syndrome, it still required inventiveness, sincerity and a lighter approach to life," he added.
Dilip doesn't deny his sister's hand in his creativity.
"Deepa's guiding hand has been present in my entire life. For both my films, she made suggestions - some were taken and some were not. Since her guidance comes with deep sincerity and good intention, it never sticks in the throat. I consider myself fortunate," he said.