Tanuja ChandraTanuja Chandra says her film “Zindaggi Rocks”, starring Sushmita Sen and Shiney Ahuja, is neither dull nor violent as critics have projected it but has some sweetness in it.

“I’m really surprised. There’s nothing in ‘Zindaggi Rocks’ that’s offensive. The backlash was hurtful. There’re so many newspapers these days and they influence people into viewing or not viewing a film. I wish critics had been kinder,” Chandra told IANS in an interview.

“The film has some sweetness in it. It’s neither dull nor violent. I guess life is full of surprises. Fortunately the average filmgoer in Mumbai and New York has not called the film so bad. People have been SMSing me furiously,” she says.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: Could this be another indication that female-centric films have no market?

A: I wouldn’t like to see it that way. All my films except “Sur” have been female-oriented, and my new English-language film “Hope & A Little Sugar” has a boy at its helm.

Even in “Zindaggi Rocks”, Shiney is very important. I’d continue to make films where women are important. I’m comfortable that way. It isn’t an ideological sloganeering stance. I just understand women better. I’m certainly looking at expanding my horizons.

Sushmita SenQ: There’re some similarities to Sushmita’s personal life put in for instant association?

A: No, not at all! The adoptive mother is a coincidence. We, in fact, debated with the idea of not making her character’s child adopted. We signed Sush because she isn’t a wannabe.

She looks as comfortable with a guitar in hand as in the hospital bed with her son. She isn’t a guitar player. But we did have a trainer who taught her to mime the six strings. Maybe there’re flaws in her guitar playing. But she throws herself into the performance with such gusto that the technicalities don’t matter.

Q: People have found Sushmita over-the-top.

A: What could she portray but complete devastation when her son is dying? The situation of Sushmita and Shiney came from real life. Shiney’s character was inspired by a woman reading out a letter on television. Her husband was in a coma for seven years. I saw it as a potentially emotional cinema. As for the mother ready to give up her child I had read about it and found it to be very dramatic and emotional.

Q: Why the double role for Moushumi Chatterjee?

A: Well, there was no grand design behind the idea and it was certainly not a wish fulfilment, though of course I’d love to have twins. You could have both your kids in one go. I found the idea cute and viewer-friendly.

I guess I enjoyed having two Moushumis. She’s capable of being emotional and funny. It was like two sides to one woman. Believe me filming a double role is technically painful. I don’t see why people think it’s two much.


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