I dread losing my independence as filmmaker: Mira Nair

Mumbai, Dec 28 (IANS) US-based Indian filmmaker Mira Nair, who shot to international fame for her realistic cinema, says she does not want to lose her independence and would like to continue making movies of her choice.

"Being an independent filmmaker, what I dread the most is losing my independence and to be dictated by producers. So, I choose my backers very carefully," Nair said while being interviewed by Bollywood director Sudhir Mishra here Saturday evening.

Organised by Indian Independent Filmmakers Worldwide (IIFW), a Mumbai-based global alliance of filmmakers for promoting and supporting independent directors, Nair was speaking at the Blue Frog lounge for TV programme "Masterclass" that will be telecast on NDTV Lumiere next month.

"The process of filmmaking is full of obstacles and I also had my share. I took every obstacle of mine as an opportunity. (And) I think every director should do that," she said.

On being asked about her career in documentary filmmaking, Nair said she would have loved to continue with it had she been able to make a living out of it.

"My family discouraged me and so I went to Harvard for higher studies, putting aside my passion for documentary filmmaking," she said.

However, the brief stint with documentaries did teach her the importance of first-hand research to get to the bottom of a subject.

"While I was making the documentary, 'India Cabaret' in 1986, I befriended a few cabaret dancers of Mumbai and actually lived with them for days to know about their personal lives and how they managed to separate the same when they strip-teased before the paying viewers," she recalled.

While, making "Salaam Bombay" two years later, she followed the same routine. She got together some street children of Mumbai and organised a workshop for them in order to prepare them for the movie.

"I virtually lived with them, learning their behaviour, their strong and weak points and the language in which they spoke with one another. If the movie had an authentic ring, it was because of the children themselves."

"In the beginning, I used to give them written dialogues to speak. But, after a few days, they objected, saying they never spoke such words in real life. So, I had to give in to their demands and let them speak in their own lingo. Knowing your subjects intimately helps in many ways," explained Nair, who's also made award-winning films like "Mississippi Masala" and "Monsoon Wedding".

Nair admitted that her encounter with theatre courtesy theatre guru Badal Sarkar while studying at the Delhi University in the mid-1970s gave a new direction to her life.

"Influence of Badal-da and Harvard made me the filmmaker I am today. From Badal-da, I learnt to look at reality as it is. Harvard is important to me because I met my collaborator, Soony Taraprevala, there. My teaming up with her provided the big impetus to my career as a filmmaker. (And) together, we have been striving to maintain the earthy quality of our movies," Nair said.

Nair is currently busy wrapping up a bio-pic, "Amelia," on legendary American pilot Amelia Earhart, who disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 in an attempt to make a flight around the world.

Starring Hillary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor and Virginia Madsen, the film will hit the screens next year.

Nair's much-hyped Johnny Depp starrer "Shantaram" that got delayed because of the Writers Guild of America's strike early this year is expected to go on the floors next year.

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