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SRK roots for Chitra Palekar
Arthur J Pais in Toronto |
September 13, 2006 13:49 IST
Chitra Palekar's eyes well up when she recalls how Shah Rukh Khan held her hands the other day telling her how much he had heard about her directorial debut, the Marathi-language film Maati Maay (A Grave-Keeper's Tale). The movie had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"I met him at a party to celebrate the gala presentation of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna at the festival," Palekar said. "He also introduced me to Karan Johar and Amitabh Bachchan."
"These are kids, I hardly know them," Palekar said, "I was overwhelmed with the attention my little film is getting. Karan too said he was looking forward to seeing it. "
"I felt for the first time that I am being recognised for my own achievement," she continued. Her 32-year-old marriage to actor-director Amol Palekar ended about seven years ago. Amol directed last year's Paheli, starring Khan.
"I have done a lot of work in theatre and have also written for films," she continued. "But somehow, I felt overshadowed. But now, I can say that I have made a small but good film."
The film is based on a story by Mahasweta Devi, one of India's finest writers, and centres on a caring and generous woman (Nandita Das) who inherits her father's vocation of looking after a children's graveyard. But she gets branded a witch. After the birth of her son, she begins to worry about performing the ceremonies. Her weak husband (played admirably by Atul Kulkarni) cannot defend her. She is ostracised by the villagers and forbidden to go to her son who is living with his father and stepmother.
"I could have made the film in Bengali or Hindi," says Palekar, who put her own savings into the film and will also be distributing it in key centres in India in a few weeks. "But I know the rural Marathi milieu very well."
She adds, "But even when the film was shot in Marathi, I never looked at it as a regional film. That is one of the reasons I have an outstanding artist like Nandita playing the key role. I also told myself I was making a film that would appeal not only to Indians across the country but also people abroad. It is a strong and touching story, and it raises universal issues about integrity, community's responsibilities and the need to stand up and do the right thing."
The film will also go to the London Film Festival. "Each day I hear from various festival authorities about wanting to show the film," she added. "I am overwhelmed but I am not complaining.'