First and Foremost, We Write for Ourselves

Today was a busy day preparing to present at the Canadian National Planning Association Conference from Feb 3-5th in Waterloo.

During a study break though, I saw a lovely interview with Kiran Rao, the writer and director of Dhobi Ghat, and there were a few parts of the interview that I wanted to share (If you’re interested in watching the interview in full, you can find it here).

The first was about the film making process itself:

My aim in making a film has always been to figure what I can do..what’s my forte, what’s my voice as an artist, as a creative person, what is my distinctive voice, and do I have something to say? These are things that make me want to make a film. I’m not making a film because I want to make a first film, I’m making a film because I feel I have something to contribute, and I wouldn’t make it if I didn’t think it was something good. So when I wrote it I didn’t have box office in mind, I didn’t have an audience, I had nobody in mind but myself looking over my own shoulder saying hmm is it good, do I have a story to tell? So that’s what I set out to do.

And second was her husband Aamir Khan’s description of working with her during the film:

First of all I didn’t know she was such a good writer..and I had no idea that she was such a good director. These are two things I learnt about her. Because I know she is a lovely human being, she is someone who I love very much and respect very much and have high regard for intellectually and emotionally and in every way, but I didn’t know that as a cinema person she is so capable and so in control of what she is making. I didn’t know all that because I had never seen that side of her as a writer and director. So I’m very proud of that.

In an interview with the delightful Jian Ghomeshi of Qtv, Aamir Khan says something similar (the whole interview is really just a lovely watch) and whether he is sharing his eagerness to be part of the cast, or his admiration for her warmth and strength as the leader of the film, the affection and joy and shared purpose and understanding between them is clear. It is a heartwarming reminder that the basis for all friendship and love is respect and equality.

In addition to their admiration for each other though, in the Qtv interview Kiran also speaks about the subject of Dhobi Ghat: Mumbai. She always knew she wanted to make a film about her home, and the plot really stems from the reality of the city itself. It is a place where you can’t hide in gated communities and you are forced to interact with people wildly different from you on a daily basis.

I think there is something to this idea of seeking to understand and describe the nature of a city itself. Certainly Vancouver and Toronto (and other places I’ve visited) have distinct personalities; as a result, they impact and shape their inhabitants in very different ways. So to take those differences and explore the layers and complexities of a city by telling the stories of its people is a fascinating project to think about.

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