Aunty Sudha, Aunty Radha
Skype Q&A with filmmaker Tanuja Chandra
IMFF 2020 Screening:
April 4th 2020 |
Screening: 10.30am - 12.00pm
AFS Cinema, Austin
Member Tickets: $10
Non-Member Tickets: $12
India|Documentary |2019 |58 min| Hindi; English subtitles
Film will be preceded by a short - FORBIDDEN TIKKA MASALA
A charming documentary about the Filmmaker, Tanuja Chandra's aunts, in the spring of their lives (86yo and 93yo).
Three hours outside of the capital of India, is a village called Lahra. This film follows two widowed sisters, aged 86 and 93, who have retired to this village, whose days are spent with their adopted family of domestic help. Pulling along with their walkers (because of bad knees that turned inoperative a decade ago) the sisters do as they please, pay heed to no one and don’t bother with unsolicited advice. They don’t let their ailments unsettle them much and remain largely unfearful of death. With a rare acceptance of old-age and all that it brings, they spend their time gossiping, watching T.V., soaking in the sun and bonding with the help in a hearty sharing of community life.
With the filmmaker being their niece who visits their home for the first time, the film resolutely assumes the tone of this oddball group of people – a facile easy-going manner, that gazes lightly at the passing of days. And yet, from this light-heartedness, emerge lessons. Of courage and perseverance, of camaraderie and care-giving, of destiny and faith, and the most significant one: when we engage in conversations of death, we improve the quality of life.
DIRECTOR’S NOTE (Interview Excerpts)
As a film director with a fairly long career, I started out as a television journalist, writing and editing stories about people, stories that were light or serious, melodramatic or slice-of-life. I loved doing this; it was relevant to my aim of making movies since real life often surprises us more than our own imagination and is the foundation of all fiction.
I had always wanted to document the charmed existence of my aunts. My siblings and I had received so much affection as well as humour from these sisters of my father, I felt guilty at never going to their home despite being graciously invited every year. So, when I finally decided to pay them a visit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. And I have to say – the taste of crisp and lovely springtime with them filled my heart with warmth.
I felt I had touched an actual and sweet grace that’s possibly going to stay with me till my own sunset years. If viewers feel this grace too, then I would have brought a modicum of dignity to aging people in the world and for that I feel fortunate as a director.
This documentary has added an important layer to my oeuvre, almost marking an aesthetic shift; it’s all the more evident to me now that even though life is filled with drama and sorrow, its depiction need not necessarily be such. A film can portray human truth with the ease of a light touch. A voice in a soft pitch can be every bit as powerful as one that shouts. Indeed, I’m thankful that my aunts let me film them, they’ve enabled me to become a better filmmaker.
After receiving a B.A. degree in English Literature in Mumbai, Tanuja Chandra completed further studies towards a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Direction and Writing in the U.S.A. She returned to India and directed the television shows and co-wrote the scripts of Mahesh Bhatt’s films, Zakhm and Tamanna, both of which won National awards, and Yash Chopra’s Dil Toh Pagal Hai.
She began independent film direction in 1998 with Dushman and directed Sangharsh, Sur, Zindaggi Rocks, and the English language, Hope and A Little Sugar in 2008, amongst others. Several of her films received awards and her English film received recognition in international film festivals.
In 2017, her most recent film, Qarib Qarib Singlle released, a romcom starring Irrfan Khan and Parvathy, and a collection of short stories by her, called Bijnis Woman was published by Penguin Random House. Two short films by her streamed on Zee5 and Eros Now. She’s working on the script of her next feature, along with developing content for longer format projects. In the past, she has written articles for newspapers and magazines regularly, and is working on her next book.