Sunday, April 21, 2024

Nitya Mehra reveals was asked to ‘include boys’ in BGDC

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Filmmaker Nitya Mehra, known for her socially meaningful content, gets candid with The Pioneer about her much-acclaimed series Big Girls Don’t Cry, not being preachy through her content, challenges bringing all-girls stories onboard, and her camaraderie with Pooja Bhatt.
 Tejal Sinha

Think of a director who has mastered the art of bringing out socially meaningful content without sounding too preachy—none other than Nitya Mehra. “I don’t think I sit at my desk and very often be like, How can I say a certain thing?” shares the star filmmaker on a brighter note.
Well, of course, as a filmmaker, she’s got a lot to say in life—a list, in fact—and what better than bringing it out through the filmmaking platform? And according to her, the core of everything is the characters or the experiences you get inspired by. But again, “I am very conscious and scared of sounding preachy, and that is very hard because I feel filmmaking at the end of the day is my escape. Every time I watch a film, that is what brings me out of the space that I am in. It kind of transports me, and the last thing is, I want my own voice telling me, ‘This is the way you need to live life’.”
Thus, there’s a fine line and balance to it. “You got to work with the writer with the right kind of team to be able to share your vision with them and kind of just own the idea and make sure it kind of becomes organic to those characters.”
In fact, even before she’d entered the filmy world as a filmmaker, Nitya Mehra knew one thing for sure: to bring out her boarding school days, and Big Girls Don’t Cry was that one.
Winning much appreciation for her recent project, Big Girls Don’t Cry, currently streaming on Prime Video, something that to her was exciting about the project was that it has ‘no contemporaries’. But, “Where is the story about females who are on the verge of adulthood and figuring out their identities? How often do we witness a true portrayal of school life in India? I don’t want an entire generation of Indian girls asking, ‘Where are the shows about us?” she questions. And now, with this, things are going to be a little competitive, she says.
“It is an amazingly interesting space to engage,” shares the Baar Baar Dekho filmmaker. And for her, the young adult space is extremely interesting. “I just can’t get enough of them; I love them. All the characters were very clear in my head. What really intrigued me was when I knew we had cast well, but when I saw them actually come live on the edit table, it was actually when I couldn’t get over how they had embodied and couldn’t tell the difference between the characters and the actors that were playing. For me, it’s been intriguing, and I’ve been so humbled by this experience.”
But of course, comes the ‘gender prejudice’ of the industry in the picture, just like how it was for Sudhanshu. She was in fact told by people that though they had loved it, she was asked to ‘include boys’ in the story. Nitya knew the team had to bring something unique into the picture, and yes, they went on!
And again, just like how we had brought in during our conversation with Sudhanshu Saria yesterday about how he’s got to work with the legendary Pooja Bhatt twice, so has it been with Nitya too. More special, in fact! “Pooja’s last film as an actor was my first film in Bombay ever,” gleefully goes on Nitya, adding, “Again, it is not a coincidence why people rub shoulders in life. When she came to work, I hadn’t seen her for so many years—almost 20 years. It was like this instant, like an electric thing happening in the room, because I was extremely impressed when I met her. I was extremely enamoured, and she made me feel so good and so confident about myself. She was the lead actor amidst others, and I was living in town, and we had to go to Chembur every day.”
Basically, she shares that she comes from a background where her parents always felt that films were just being made, and who made them was never questioned. Certainly, they were apprehensive of sending her to Bombay, this big city. But “Then you know, which is why it is so important to surround yourself and try and make your way into some spaces where you can look up to people and have the correct role models, and for me, that is what Pooja was. She had a production house, I remember, so I would see her fleeingly get ready, and they’d put me in background action, which means I was very busy in a corner doing things as the film’s life was dependent on it. But I just remember her as the boss woman because I remember her being so inclusive of all of us, taking us to the office, and that has not changed to date. You should be noting down everything that she says (we laugh). She is like this walking-talking philosopher, so not much has changed. I have grown up a little bit; she has too, but not really. We were meant to be.”

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