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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

To write films on gender equality, we needed female gaze: ‘Natkhat’ director

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“Natkhat” director Shaan Vyas says the first draft of the movie was written by him as a man trying to tell a story about masculinity and lacked a female perspective.

Natkhat Movie Poster: Vidya Balam
Natkhat Movie Poster: Vidya Balam

The film was made together by a gender-equal crew crediting names like Vidya Balan child actress Sanika Patel and writer Annukampa Harsh.

“The first draft of the film was written by me solely as a man trying to tell a story about masculinity, but it lacked a female perspective and was, hence, very dry as a first draft. To write a film about gender equality, we needed a female gaze in its writing and, importantly, in its making,” Vyas said.

The makers of “Natkhat” adhered to its own ethos of gender equality in its making, crediting the women who were the three pillars of the film — namely child actress Sanika Patel, actress Vidya Balan and writer Annukampa Harsh.

The film was made together by a gender-equal crew.

“The most important and neutralising influence on the film began when I started collaborating with my co-creator Annukampa Harsh who not just wrote the film with me and imbued the script with a soul, she also crafted every key creative element of the film in detail and was sharing directing responsibilities with me for all the non-actors,” Vyas added.

The director agrees that “it is not easy to direct children”.

“The most important thing to build with them is trust and Annukampa built that in her acting workshops. She also cast the film by extensively going to schools as well as street-casting. And the most important casting decision of the film — the girl Sanika Patel (who plays a boy) was also her find,” he added.

“Natkhat” gives out a strong message regarding gender equality. The film premiered on YouTube as part of the ‘We Are One: A Global Film Festival’ on June 2.

The film has been co-produced by Ronnie Screwvala and Vidya Balan.

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