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Parched will make you laugh, cry and angry, says filmmaker Leena Yadav

Leena Yadav
THE MAVERICK FILMMAKER: Leena Yadav

Filmmaker Leena Yadav who’s known for her directorial ventures with unconventional storylines – Shabd (2005) and Teen Patti (2010) – has been creating ripples across the globe with her yet another unconventional film Parched. The film, which revolves around the lives of four rural women and their struggles, has been appreciated by the audience and critics alike in international film festivals in London, Miami and Toronto. While Parched, which releases in India on September 23, is all about women emancipation, Leena is not comfortable being tagged as a woman director. No male director is called a male director, so why call me a ?woman director?? she asks. Here’s Leena Yadav unplugged in an exclusive interview with Nation Next?

Being an economics graduate from Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi, how did you divert to a creative field like filmmaking?

After my graduation in economics from Lady Shri Ram College, I was supposed to pursue my MBA. While I was in college, I didn’t really enjoy studying economics. I was involved in a lot of curricular activities. Just before, I was supposed to take my MBA entrance exam, I suddenly realised that I didn’t want to be stuck in a ₹9 to 5? job! I wanted to do something else. I wanted to try my hands in the field of media. I came to Mumbai and enrolled myself in a mass communication course at Sophia College. Gradually, I entered the world of filmmaking.

Your film Parched is releasing on September 23 but you have been screening your film across international film festivals for more than a year. Is it a marketing strategy to make the film known internationally before releasing it in India?

There was no strategy involved. We wanted to screen our film at various festivals first because it’s difficult for a film like Parchedto get a commercial release outside India. Also, this is a film that we made to initiate an international debate on women issues. The world premier happened at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and since then, the international journey of the film began. We got many invitations from various international film festivals.

What should the audience expect from the film? Is it an entertainer or a film with a social message?

It’s a film that everybody would relate to. The reason why I now can say this with confidence is because Parched has been recognised worldwide. The movie will make them laugh, cry and angry. It will be like a roller coaster ride full of emotions.

Ajay Devgn is co-producing the film with your husband Aseem Bajaj. As hes famous for being a big-hearted producer, how was working with him? Is he a directors delight?

Ajay, more than anything, has been an immense support to the film. Hes not hands on produced the film. Despite knowing the fact that it would be a difficult film, he supported us the moment he came to know Aseem and I were doing this project. At every step, hes guided, supported and helped us. Hes extremely large-hearted.

Nagpur based businessman Rohan Jagdale has also co-produced the film. How was your experience working with him?

Ajay (Devgn) was the first one to come and support the film. We then started raising finance. The film absolutely wouldn’t have been possible without Rohan Jagdale and Gulab Singh Tanwar too. They have been extremely supportive and have traveled to as many film festivals as possible with me. Parched was never a project.

Since there are four producers for the film Parched, did it increase your accountability as a director?

No, because all our producers came on board for this film in support of the vision. They left all the producing part actively onto Aseem. I had to deal with just one producer Aseem. Our producers, except for him, provided us with support and made sure that nothing stops the project.

The two prominent actresses of Parched ? Radhika Apte and Surveen Chawla have garnering a lot of popularity as Bollywood bombshells. Is it their image makeover of sorts because of the rural setting of the movie?

I actually never approached Radhika or Surveen for their image makeover. Both of them are brilliant actresses. Third actress in the film is Tannistha Chatterjee. We chose these three actresses because they act great.I don’t think an actress has a particular image. They are actors for a reason and they can be made to look the way you like and need.

You have done a lot of TV shows ? fictional and non-fictional both. As a director, what do you enjoy more ? films or TV shows

Story telling is my job. Whether it’s television, silver screen, radio, theatre, etc, I don’t differentiate among the mediums.

Out of your three films, Shabd and Parched can be called women centric films but you don’t like to be tagged as a woman director. What is your idea of feminism?

My idea of feminism or humanism is being an individual, and being recognised as an individual only irrespective of the gender, caste, creed or religion. I’m a woman and I’m proud of it! No male director is called a male director?, so why call me a ?woman director?? Why to put me in a box?

Your films look aesthetically perfect. How much do you attribute it to your husband – ace cinematographer Aseem Bajaj?

Not just my husband, I attribute it to every artist I work with in my films because filmmaking is a collaborative art. It’s not a one-man-show. A director just has a vision, which she/he communicates with the team members.

How was working with your husband Aseem Bajaj?

Working with him hasn’t been a new thing for me. We met each other at work. Hes shot my first two earlier films too.

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Governance

Dharavi redevelopment to have dedicated areas for manufacturing: Devendra Fadnavis

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Nation Next Newsroom | Mumbai

Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that Dharavi redevelopment will have dedicated areas for manufacturing…

Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said that Dharavi is a great manufacturing cluster, has been kept in mind while planning its redevelopment.

Devendra Fadnavis

The Mah Deputy CM says that Dharavi is a great manufacturing cluster, has been kept in mind while planning its redevelopment.

As Dharavi redevelopment has been announced, doubts were raised on whether this locally evolved entrepreneurial hub will retain its spirit.  In a chat on Sansad TV with Sanjeev Sanyal, Member, PM’s Economic Advisory Council and a writer, on an Economic Sutra episode telecast on Nov 6, the Deputy Chief Minister had made it very clear how he foresees the future of Dharavi and Mumbai.

Saying that his government worked on clearing all the bottlenecks, he adds, “We understood that unless we have a place to rehabilitate people, which is nearby Dharavi, this project will not take off. We found out that there is around 42 acres of land which belongs to the Railways. We approached the Central Government and told them that we’ll free up your land. We’ll buy your land and we’ll give you a share in the profit and we entered into a definitive agreement and now they have handed it over to us.”

“The Dharavi Redevelopment project will be the most unique project ever done. In fact, this redevelopment was visualized by none other than Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 but nothing happened – until 2014 when Modiji came and we started governing Maharashtra. The redevelopment will be no less beautiful than BKC. Dharavi is just not a slum but it’s also a great manufacturing cluster, so what we did was that while planning this scheme we have created areas for this entire manufacturing industry along with planning for the rehabilitation of the people. Right now, this entire manufacturing sector is informal, but after this and over time they will come into the formal sector.”

Watch the full interaction here: https://youtu.be/FNeTrm0v0dw

Also, with Mumbai undergoing so many infrastructural changes, questions have been raised about retaining the quintessential character of “aamchi Mumbai,” which apart from being the financial capital of India is undoubtedly one of the most vibrant cities.

Speaking on the land issues, Fadnavis says, “The usable space in Mumbai is very little. It has length, but has limitations on the breadth so taking into consideration all these problems we wanted to design a very robust system for Mumbai for commuters and for vehicles. That’s why the all the new Coastal Road, which will decongest the western side of Mumbai. It will be a ring road type structure along the coast and this Western Expressway carries 60 percent of the Mumbai traffic right, so all that traffic will be mostly accommodated here.”

Commuting in Mumbai is a killer and every day Mumbaikars spend a lot of time on travel. Saying that he wants to reduce travel within Mumbai from anywhere to anywhere to an hour, Fadnavis explains, “Our Metro three is a very unique 40 kilometers of underground Network, which will be the lifeline of Mumbai. It is estimated to carry around 1.7 million passengers per day! All this work will be finished in two or three years and I want that from any place to any place in Mumbai one should reach within less than one hour – that is the planning. We are also trying to integrate the transportation system. Right now, our Suburban Railway is the lifeline of Mumbai. This Suburban Railway carries around 9 million passengers. The new Metro Network which we are creating will be carrying around 7 million or 8 million passengers, almost doubling the current number.”

Adding to this, the Deputy CM says that the 22 kilometers of Sea Bridge that will connect us to the hinterland, “so we have Mumbai, we have new Mumbai and that will be the third Mumbai that will be a land mass which will be bigger than Mumbai with new Mumbai airport. I think the future growth of Mumbai is on that side!”

Also read: Pritish Nandy’s ‘spirit of Dharavi’ tweet sparks off poverty porn debate

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Governance

Pritish Nandy’s ‘spirit of Dharavi’ tweet sparks off poverty porn debate

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Nation Next Newsroom | Mumbai

Dharavi comments of former parliamentarian and noted media and television personality Pritish Nandy on Friday, kicked off a storm…

Dharavi comments of former parliamentarian and noted media and television personality Pritish Nandy on Friday, kicked off a storm.

Dharavi

Is squalor for cameras, money more important than dignified living for the residents…  

Former parliamentarian and noted media and television personality Pritish Nandy’s Dharavi comments kicked off a storm when he said on Twitter that Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slum, with an estimated population of 1 million, ‘is not actually a slum but a tribute to the great entrepreneurial spirit of the weakest and smallest person fighting for his or her livelihood in Mumbai. It is also a model in collective coexistence in one of the toughest cities in the world, where nothing else matters. Not caste. Not faith. Not where you come from. But trust and togetherness.’

While this may be true, what is equally true is the squalor and subhuman conditions that reign supreme in this slum. Netizens felt that Nandy, by romanticizing poverty in this manner, was only feeding poverty porn and tourism. Nandy clarified that he was seeking to keep the spirit of Dharavi alive by “researching the architectural grammar, the cultural history that builds integrated and interdependent societies like Dharavi that have survived and flourished over decades and make that the base for the new redevelopment plans. Not just look at the future but also build in the past.”

The Maharashtra Government had on November 29, opened the financial bids for Dharavi redevelopment project.  While 3 companies Adani Realty, DLF and Naman Group had submitted bids, the Adani Group clinched the project with a INR 5,069-crore bid. The timeline for the entire redevelopment of Asia’s largest slum, with an estimated population of 1 million, might take close to 17 years, the rehabilitation of slum dwellers should be complete in seven years. 

Also read: Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea on Dec 6; HC says plea should be heard on priority due to his ill health

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Crime

Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea on Dec 6; HC says plea should be heard on priority due to his ill health

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Radhika Dhawad | Mumbai
The Bombay High Court said ex-minister Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea should be heard on priority basis due to the senior leader’s health issues.

Anil Deshmukh

The Bombay High Court said, as per prima facie, 74-year-old former Home Minister of Maharashtra Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea should be heard on priority basis due to the senior leader’s health issues. Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the CBI, said that when Deshmukh’s bail plea was moved on medical grounds, then a fresh medical report needed to be called for. 

Singh said, “There is a compilation that has been given now. There are medical papers attached. We need to go through it. Even though this is not a bail application on merit of the case, it is still being circulated under medical issues. He is getting medical treatment as required. Moreover, medical issues are not static. We need a check on what his condition is right now.”

Deshmukh’s advocate Vikram Chaudhari said the senior NCP leader was being treated but has been suffering from several ailments that require constant treatment and care. Chaudhary said, ”He needs to be released. He is a chronic patient.”

Justice MS Karnik said that the court would hear the bail plea on merits. He said, “I am satisfied that we can proceed with the hearing on merits and give it priority. This is my prima facie opinion that priority should be given. One of the medical ailments (that Deshmukh is suffering from) is degenerative.” Deshmukh’s bail plea would now be heard on December 6.

The bench asked Singh whether he was ready to argue on the merits of the case immediately, to which Singh said he would require a week while Chaudhari said that he was ready to argue. However, Justice Karnik said, “We need to give them a fair opportunity.”

Also read: 10 lakh spectators across 50 km; PM Modi makes history with road show for BJP in Ahmedabad

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