Interview with filmmaker
Avantika Bhuyan December 5, 2015
Touted as India’s first female buddy comedy, Angry Indian Goddesses, or AIG, has been in the news ever since the project was announced, be it for its eclectic star cast, novel theme or performance in the festival circuit. The buzz around it increased when it was announced as the the first runner-up for the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. However, AIG ran into choppy waters back home when the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) demanded as many as 16 cuts for words such as adivasi and sarkar. With the film finally having released earlier this week, Avantika Bhuyan speaks with director Pan Nalin about the process of creating AIG and his views on censorship
It’s quite an interesting title. How did you choose it?
The title is a result of the organic evolution of the project. During research, we interviewed a lot of girls. Inevitably, 10 to 15 minutes into the conversation, each would end up expressing a certain anger and angst about issues – both big and small. During one such conversation, I just scribbled “Angry Indian Goddesses” on paper and it stayed on. There is a double metaphor of sorts in the title: it also stands for the ferocious avatar of Kali that destroys to bring about change. Every time we mentioned the title to people, it would put a big smile on their faces. They were curious about what the film was all about.
It’s being called India’s first female buddy film. Was it a conscious decision to take this direction or did the idea evolve over time?
It wasn’t a conscious decision. I wanted to talk about friendship among women. If you ever overhear a conversation in a group of women, at first glance, it may seem about issues such as nail polish and clothes. But when you delve deeper, you find many layers. There’s a gap between what the reality is and what we watch in the mainstream – and even in the so-called parallel cinema. So, I kept working on this idea of friendship. Then someone pointed out that so far there have only been male buddy films, with guys having a great time and girls only as decoration.
The film has an eclectic cast: Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sarah-Jane Dias, Anushka Manchanda, Amrit Maghera, Rajshri Deshpande and Pavleen Gujral. I believe you received applications from 800 women from India and abroad and shortlisted 200 possible candidates?
I wanted the movie to be realistic. So, I couldn’t tell those auditioning to “read this scene in 10 minutes and then go out”. It was just me, my colleague Dilip Shankar and co-writer, Subhadra … (read further)