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Grief brings Kalki Koechlin and Naseeruddin Shah together in Waiting

Arti Dani
Filed on December 10, 2015 | Last updated on December 10, 2015 at 08.50 am



"Pics or it didn't happen", is a phrase used on the Internet forums to counter the vast range of unverifiable claims made by users. Often these claims involve personal brag-worthy accomplishments, extraordinary or rare sights/occurrences.

Kim Kardashian West announced her newborn son Saint West's name on her social media account, alongside an emoji family photo. Emojis have taken over our emotions. Facebook and Twitter have taken over our lives and created a generation who are obsessed with themselves and are in constant need of 'comments' and 'likes'.

"Pics or it didn't happen", is a phrase used on the Internet forums to counter the vast range of unverifiable claims made by users. Often these claims involve personal brag-worthy accomplishments, extraordinary or rare sights/occurrences.

Kalki Koechlin's character from her forthcoming film Waiting suffers from a similar social media addiction. Waiting, directed by Anu Menon, will premiere tomorrow at Dubai International Film Fest (DIFF). Naseeruddin Shah who plays the lead character, along with Kalki are expected to grace the red carpet ahead of the screening.

"My character is basically a typical Mumbai girl who is a social media consultant. She is always on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. When her husband goes into a coma following an accident, her life changes. Suddenly how many 'likes' she gets on Facebook doesn't matter to her. She feels alone for the first time in her life. She calls her friends who are well meaning but useless: their idea of help is to post encouraging messages on Facebook. She is like, 'I have 5000 friends on Facebook but what's the point? I am all alone right now.' This film is an internal journey of her character," said Kalki when City Times caught up with her over the phone from Mumbai ahead of the actress jetting into Dubai to attend DIFF.

An Indian actress of French descent, Kalki is known for her wide-range of filmography with movies like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. She also made waves at festival circuits with her last film Margarita with a Straw. A staunch feminist, Kalki is busy directing and acting in a play these days.

LOST IN TRANSLATION

Waiting is about how two people, who are very different from each other, find themselves in a similarly trying situation. They eventually find solace and happiness in each other. In the film, Naseeruddin and Kalki befriend each other unexpectedly in a hospital while nursing their individual spouses who are in a coma. The film explores how one can confront one's grief and find hope.

The film, according to Kalki, is about two people's journey and their inner transformation, even as their world is falling apart externally. "I really loved the script. Even though I hadn't seen Anu's previous film London Paris New York, I said yes to the project, one year before Naseer got on board. It reminded me of a lot of films, which have a 'lost and lonely' (sic) feeling like Lost in Translation. That's the kind of vibe we wanted. This is about people who are from different walks of life but are meeting at a certain place because of circumstances. Two people who are going through the same thing and then what happens in their lives."

In a separate email interview, Naseeruddin Shah said this film was his way of making up to the audience for some "ghastly movies" that he did last year. "Kalki is an exceptional actor in every way and I loved working with her. The entire film is set in a hospital and I play a man waiting for his wife to recover and she is waiting for her husband to recover. It's not a depressing film but full of truth and humour and hope. I found the situation depicted in the script very sensitive and poignant and unsentimentally presented and after the spate of truly ghastly films I have done in the last year I wanted to make amends through this one to those who watch my movies," said Naseeruddin.

BEHIND THE SCENES

Kalki and Naseeruddin were director Anu Menon's first and only choice for this film. She is pretty excited that her movie will be shown for the first time at DIFF. "Yes, it's a great platform for us to showcase the film. I am also particularly excited that Naseer is getting a Lifetime Achievement honour at the festival. There's a great energy to the festival."

Anu gives a lot of credit to Dubai-based producer Manish Mundra for speeding up the progress of her film. "The writing took years. But once Manish came on board, things progressed pretty quickly - the actors and Priti, our co-producer joined us soon after. And we were on the floor in less than six months."

A producer with an eye for talent, Manish Mundra's film Masaan premiered at the Cannes Film Festival early this year where it won two awards - FIPRESCI, International Jury of Film Critics prize and Promising Future prize in the Un Certain Regard Section.

"I am based out of Dubai. And for the last few years DIFF has been my place to discover so many lovely films and connect with so many amazing filmmakers and associates. This is a dream year for us at DIFF as not only our film Waiting premieres here, but our other film Dhanak (Rainbow) directed by Nagesh Kukunoor is also a part of the festival this year. So we are very excited."

So what attracted Manish to the project? "The story was amazing and it just touched my emotional chords. I decided to produce the film, but I also felt that I would need a producing partner to do justice to the film and hence approached Priti of Ishka films. As a producer, of course, we have our own set of challenges with respect to production (schedule, timely completion of the film, budget controls and the quality of the end product). I think Anu and her team did a fabulous job in delivering the film in the scheduled time and within the planned budget on one hand and an amazing lovely film on the other hand which I feel surely would be loved by all," said Manish.

"The biggest challenge is to choose a script amongst many, to get a team that believes in the script as much as we do, and to get it all work together seamlessly," said Priti Gupta. "Though this is my first film, and I instinctively knew that Waiting was our calling, as producers, we were lucky to have a team that understood both the value of time and money and importantly quality. The film has great technicians who were as committed to the script and made this film a visual experience."

WOMEN AT WORK

Waiting ended up being an almost all-women crew to the extent that T-shirts were printed that said "Wo(men) at work" - which even the few men on the set wore happily. Since both Naseeruddin and Kalki have worked with multiple female directors, do they think that female directors have a different approach towards filmmaking?

Naseeruddin said: "With one solitary exception I have always enjoyed working with female directors, they are more compassionate than men and able to see others' point of view better than men can. More women should make films!"

As for Kalki "I always find it comfortable to work with a female director. Not that I have a problem with a male director. When you are working with a female director, its like talking to your girlfriend about your problems. With male directors, there is always a male-female barrier, there is a certain politeness."

Tickets to the movie can be purchased at www.dubaifilmfest.com. Waiting will be screened at Madinat Theatre tomorrow at 10.15pm and MoE on Saturday at 9.15pm.

arti@khaleejtimes.com 


 
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