Director Sunaina Bhatnagar: Imtiaz sir was surprised after watching DEAR MAYA

Director Sunaina Bhatnagar: Imtiaz sir was surprised after watching DEAR MAYA news
img By Pooja Sharma | 01 Jun 2017 16:29:12.2730000 IST

Having assisted Imtiaz Ali for more than six years everybody expected Sunaina to make films similar to her mentor. But the debutante director proved everyone wrong and wrote an earnest story for Maya Devi which she made it into film as DEAR MAYA.

In an exclusive interview Sunaina talks about her experience of making her debut film with a versatile actress like Manisha Koirala and also gives few tips to all the aspiring filmmakers out there.

Here are the excerpts:


What inspired you to write a film like DEAR MAYA? Is it based on real life incidents?
I read a newspaper article about a Sikh lady in Punjab. In 1984 riots from her window this lady saw people being murdered and killed. She got so scared that she stayed inside her house for 30 years! So that is a real life story which became the seed of my film’s story. Apart from that lot of my personal experiences from my growing up year helped me write this story. It’s a slice-of-life kind of growing up story about taking your chances in life.

What made you chose Manisha Koirala for the role of Maya?
She is simply brilliant and right from the beginning she was on my mind as she is the best person to play Maya Devi.

How did you approach her?
That was tricky because I was a first time filmmaker you don’t know if you will get any response so I took my chances and I mailed her the script. She read it and she said I loved it and I want to do it. Then we met of course after she checked who I am. She met Mukesh Chhabra; he is friend of mine so we connected through him. So that’s how the project took off.

Tell us about your experience of working with an actress of her caliber.
I had the best experience. I think I am very fortunate because if in your first film you get an actor so good it makes your life so easy otherwise you keep struggling with getting the kind of performance that you need. Anyway I had two new girls so we had to balance. Over all it was an absolute pleasure.

Do you think that kids of today’s generation believe in the old world charm of expressing their love through letters?
Yes. See now-a-days it’s so easy to SMS and to send text instantly. Even an email seems bit outdated as nobody send email now-a-days but at the same time I think that the younger generation likes this old world charm love as they fondly recall it as‘Woh Zamana Tha’. I myself enjoy watching such love stories, I might not do it personally but I don’t mind watching it.

Did you discuss this project with your mentor Imtiaz Ali?
Yeah on and off we used to have discussions. I have been trying to make my first film for a long time so we discussed many things whenever we met.


How is Imtiaz sir as a filmmaker and as a mentor?
I assisted him for like six years so in a way my film schooling was with him. He is great person to work with and everything that I have learnt came from him. I was very uniquely blessed to be in the position of being trained by him.

Did you show this film to him? What was his feedback?
Yeah he saw the film and he was very surprised because I think a lot of people expect me to make a film very similar to his movies and they want to see the same kind of thing but it’s not at all in the same space so I think he was quite surprised and he said, “It’s not about boys it’s not about love. It’s very unique and different film and I haven’t seen anything like this before.”

Give one reason why people should go and watch this film
It is a very different story and it talks about life in a different way. The film is very realistic and simple and we all can relate it to our own lives. DEAR MAYA is about the small things that happen in life there is nothing over dramatic and nothing crazy about it but all humane. It’s all about how small small things make our lives.

''Your first film is such a challenge that it’s so easy to give up''

Tell us about your upcoming projects
I have second film which I will start working on very soon.

Any message for all the aspiring directors out there?
Your first film is such a challenge that it’s so easy to give up and in a way my journey of making this film is also the message of this film that it’s very easy to give up but you just have to get out and do it. It’s going to be really difficult out there but in the end it’s all worth it.

Which actor you look forward to work with in your future projects?
There are so many like Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt. They are such a terrific actors that I would love to work with them.

Now that your film is releasing tomorrow how excited or nervous you are?
My god, I am very excited but very nervous as well because you know you have given two years of your life on a film and your first film is not easy it’s like this mountain that you have to climb so it means more personally. I don’t know what the future holds for me right now it was a big challenge to make this film so personally it’s a huge accomplishment. I don’t know what will happen to it once the film releases but just to get it here and release it is a big accomplishment. I really hope that people like it and appreciate it because it’s been quite an experience to make this film.