The Hungry celebrates complexity of women characters: Director

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Mumbai–Director Bornila Chatterjee, who has won a special mention for the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality for “The Hungry”, says the movie celebrates the complexity of women which is rarely captured in films.

The movie is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus”, set in contemporary New Delhi. The story is set in the extravagant surroundings of an Indian wedding while exploring the role of the patriarch and corruption in Indian politics and big business.

It features Naseeruddin Shah and Tisca Chopra.

Chatterjee says she attempted to tell the story from the perspective of a female character and though in the main play, the lady is the villain, in the film, she turned the woman into a grey character with a lot more complexity and treated her with empathy.

“Tisca played the character of Tamora from the main play, and I tried to treat her with more empathy and complexity. This film celebrates the complexity of the woman character because often time that is what we do not get to see in cinema, not only in India, but globally,” Chatterjee told IANS here.

“We see women characters are playing second fiddle to their male counterpart and I want to create more of a badass character, who is more real, therefore grey and bold,” she added.

“The Hungry” is Chatterjee’s first film. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

She says working with some of the industry’s best actors like Naseeruddin, Neeraj Kabi and Tisca was nothing less than a “masterclass” for her.

Asked if she was worried about handling a Shakespeare adaptation and so many iconic actors in her first film, she said: “No, I was not worried because I had no time for that. It was such a tight budget film where we had just 22 days to finish shooting.

“So, I along with the cast and crew, just rushed and shot to finish the production. Perhaps that is why I did not go through the feeling of getting nervous to direct actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Tisca and dealing with a Shakespearian piece.”

Considering the original play was written 400 years ago and was set in ancient Rome, asked if establishing the relevance of the story in today’s time was a challenge, she said: “No, not at all. You see, though the story was set in Rome, the core story is about the power struggle between two royal families.

“We set the story in North India, between two royal business families and their power struggle. And such things very much exist in today’s time, therefore the story is relevant.”

She says she followed a different process to transform the play into the film.

“Once we decided to set the film in North India, then it became the matter of eliminating some characters. In the play, there are 20 characters, and in the film, we have five. We shot in two locations because it is a micro-budget film.

“So, we just kept characters to maintain the core story, and I would say, it is not a typical adaptation of the main play ‘Titus Andronicus’. We have taken the core story and turned it into our film ‘The Hungry’.”

The movie is produced by Cinestaan Film Company and Film London.

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