Kiran Rao: An independent mind

With every session, it gives us great pleasure to invite a guest who is articulate and has their own vision of cinema. In our session with director Kiran Rao, we had a guest who has a different perspective which sparked off an excellent, thought-provoking dialogue.

Speaking on the budget, content and the economics of the independent vs commercial film, Kiran said that for her independent cinema is also about the syntax and language of the film and the way the director looks at the subject. Independent cinema, she said, tends to be more auteur-driven. A good indie film, in her mind, is a combination of unusual content and form that is different from a formulaic film.

When Indu Mirani asked Kiran about Dhobi Ghat and Ship of Theseus, she wondered if her husband Aamir Khan perhaps felt a bit left out. Kiran said that she hadn’t expected Aamir to get involved at all as he had grown up in the environment of commercial cinema. She didn’t think he would get into the script which had no plot but four interlinking stories. But he loved the story and that becomes the driving point. Then the genre divisions fall apart. He loved Ship of Theseus when he watched it. And now he feels like he is an honorary member of the arthouse world.

Kiran also released Dhobi Ghat without an interval, which was tough going with exhibitors. She explained that it actually took personal phone calls by Aamir to each and every distributor for the release without an interval.

The director also said that she was willing to direct a film written by someone else even though she enjoys writing. She confesses it is hard for someone like her who has no training in the craft but the sense of achievement is phenomenal. Subtle dramas and writing that explores what makes people tick is what appeals to her in a script.

Speaking passionately about creating more meaningful cinema, she had an interesting viewpoint: she said that the theatre is not the end of the road, but digital is the way forward. Digital needs to be monetised and that is the need of the hour, according to Kiran.

From working with Aamir to how she found her way into films, Kiran Rao spoke with great candour about all the subjects including women filmmakers in Bollywood and what drives the industry. Stay tuned for the full dialogue.