PAST IS MY MASTER AND EVENING MY DAWN: VINAY SHUKLAby Aparajita Krishna August 6 2022, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 26 mins, 57 secs
His film-work has been artistically selective and also across-genres, fairly mainstream, writes Aparajita Krishna.
Working on the questionnaire of some people can itself become a valuable journey of discovery. In the case of Vinay Shukla, our noted senior film-writer-director-teacher, much more ought to have been read and spoken than has been documented.. From the 1970s to now he has, as an insider, seen Hindi cinema go through different phases. His work in offbeat and regular mainstream films has kept him experimenting with different styles of storytelling, concepts, screenplays, dialogue-construction, direction. Godmother solidly emerges to be the defining film in his repertoire.
Re-visiting his films and film-information on the net transported me to the 1970; a very, very important decade for Hindi cinema. The parallel-new wave-cinema movement had come into its own and would bloom and speak in its own idiom. In the present I have been continuously, like in a loop, humming the song Jaise suraj ki garmi se jalte hue tan ko mil jaye taruvar ki chhaya/Aisa hi sukh mere mann ko mila hai, main jab se sharan teri aaya, mere Ram!, sung by Sharma Bandhu for the film Parinay (1974) with music by Jaidev and lyrics by Ramanand Sharma. This film was co-written by Vinay Shukla.
The prologue to this article must inform you dear readers that I had an invaluable ‘learning’ experience with the subject. Vinay Shukla devised a way to prioritize this questionnaire-addressal. A kind of a psychological trick with himself. Amidst his occupations he had to wriggle out time to note his answers. So, yours truly got invited home to oversee him answering the questions. My presence was just that imaginary danda/stick that the writers often invoke to meet the deadline. A picture herein testifies to my posed presence as Vinayji goes about laptop-typing his thoughts and words for this article. His home has an aesthetic that is reflective of the person and the creative inhabiting it: refined and understated. As you walk more and more into the space the more you discover with wonderment.
Here is my communication with filmmaker and citizen Vinay Shukla.
To start in the very present. A thought you shared on Facebook, dated May 31, 2022, has a writing penned in your (I guess) beautiful, almost calligraphic handwriting: “I am ready to confront my mediocrity and treat my limitations with compassion and understanding. The journey is the destination. My struggle is with myself-evolutionary. Fascinating when I chance upon a lotus of creativity in a cesspool of my mediocrity.” Trust this was yours. At your stage and age of life, is creative and life-summarisation beckoning you?
Yes, the thoughts are very much mine. And so is the handwriting. Chalo, mere haath ka likha hua kuchh toh theek hai! Handwriting hi sahi.
When one has walked away 70 miles and more from ground zero, I guess, one tends to look back at the journey one has made. In my ignorance, I walked a path full of potholes. But it is to one’s own advantage to transform, so I’ve turned my regrets and suffering into fodder for my creative output. I enjoy holding conversations with myself and learn from them. My past is my Master. And the Evening is my Dawn.
Do inform of your present work-occupation.
I’m trying to discipline myself as a writer. I have begun to write regularly. The writing helps me understand myself and my relationship with life better.
Workwise, it is all self-commissioned. I’ve a few feature-film scripts ready. Like every project has its own journey to fruition, I am no exception to live in denial with the realities. But the setbacks do not dishearten me. The lamp of creativity is safely ensconced in my psyche. The wind of adversity can’t extinguish it.
Two years ago, I scripted a short film called ‘Exchange Offer.’ It was much lauded and won several awards internationally. A couple of them fell into my kitty as well. Writing it was a refreshing experience. I wrote it in about 16 hours over a period of 3 days. I said to myself, “This is good, yaar! In 3 days’ time you get the sense of completing a script. Aur ek feature film ki script! 6-8 maheene tak sar khapaate raho, phir bhi zaroori nahi ki jo likha hai wo khud ko bhi pasand aaye. Na likhne ka satisfaction, na bikne ka.” (And damn it, one feature-film script takes 6-8 months of breaking one’s head over it and at the end too there is no guarantee that it would satisfy one. Neither self-satisfaction, nor, sale-satisfaction).
I enjoy writing short films and one of them, which I’ve also directed, is in post-production. It’s titled ‘Blank’ starring Naseeruddin Shah, produced by Honey Trehan and music by Vishal-ji (Bhardwaj).
I got to watch this very gripping short-film and have communicated to you my most captive-reaction-feelings. From what I know of you, you are politically and personally a liberal, inclusive, secular, anti-the present government at the center. You belong to the minority of such public voices and have been very vocal on Facebook. How do you see our collective present and future?
Itni samajh kahaan hai ki desh ka collective future dekh sakoon! But yes, the present scenario is very dismal. I’m proud of the fact that I grew up in Nehru’s India. I know no other way, but to respect humanity.
Our Constitution is my religion. What worries me very much is the bleak future that is staring at us and our future generations. Unfortunately, the charisma of Modi with its heady cocktail of Religion and Nationalism has put a significant segment of population in a stupor. All the 4 pillars of democracy have crumbled under the weight of the present dispensation. We are being brainwashed by the RSS, the BJP, its IT cell and WhatsApp university. Ignoramuses are giving us lessons on academic subjects on social media. They know zilch about our history, our scriptures, but would troll you for stating facts. This government values idiocy and has contempt for intelligence.
As a reputed film-person and audience for decades, how do you assess the present Indian film scene? Of course, like India itself, there is so much of diversity therein. Still, wholistically speaking…
The variety of films we are making - and I don’t mean only Hindi films, but films from all regions – is simply overwhelming. Also, there is so much content being made for OTT platforms. I guess, the world over, show-business is one of the most flourishing industries. As it happens everywhere, there are some good films and a lot worth giving a miss.
However, filmmakers depicting history should be cautious and careful as to not favor any wing of ideology, thereby distorting history. Making films that spread and nourish hatred and divide society is saddening. Do we wish to celebrate India in Hateful Victory or Unanimous Unity?
Having said that, there is another side of the coin too. There are documentaries along with some feature films that are raising the relevant issues. And due to OTT platforms, many among young generation are watching feature-length documentaries. These documentaries dig into the chasms of truth presenting anomalies of the system, that are far more heartbreaking than everyday breaking news.
Now to go back to your past. Rajasthan is where you grew up? I learn that your association with the creative arts began at the age of nine when you began participating in radio plays at Akashvani, Jaipur. Thereafter, your creative urges led you to theatre at the college and university levels. True? Do give one a little summary of your familial background and the first few creative-connects.
Before the amalgamation of princely states, my father was Diwan (prime minister) of Kishangarh. After the formation of Rajasthan, my father was absorbed by the Rajasthan Administrative Services (RAS). My childhood was spent in Jodhpur, Kota and Jaipur. After retirement, my father built a house in very close proximity to Akashvani. I don’t remember how and why, but I auditioned for the children’s program. I was selected and frequently called to participate. The temptation was Rs. 5, which I would receive as my fee. I’d spend that for buying cinema tickets (they cost about a rupee – God! Can you believe it!). The experience of participating in radio plays proved to be a good training ground for my future dialogue writing.
My mother was from a small village near Firozabad. She attended school up to class 4. My Naani passed away when Ma was 7 years old. At that formative age, the responsibility of looking after the house fell on her tender shoulders. Imagine a 7-year-old child cooking for her father and 6 brothers and doing every household chore: cooking, washing utensils, cleaning the house and washing clothes. She spoke in Brij in a very lilting tone. If my dialogues have any rhythm, it is thanks to her.
Transition to theater just happened. I acted in quite a few plays. Won some trophies. The dilemma arose when I had to choose between NSD and FTII? And what I opted for? Glamor, my friend, the second original sin! No, that’s not entirely true. I dabbled in painting (won few prizes), wrote fiction and at one time I fancied becoming an architect. So here was a medium in which I would find an outlet for each of these tenuous talents.
Were films an intrinsic part of your growing-up years? If so, who were the directors, film-writers, actors who fascinated you?
I loved watching films (Hindi, of course). I wasn’t much into Hollywood films. I’d play truant and watch our desi phillums. I remember one evening when I returned home after watching a film, my father was sitting in the verandah and I knew that I’m in for a treat. I don’t remember the count of slaps that rained on my cheeks. It might have seemed that I had applied rouge. When I was in college, Shammi Kapoor and Dilip Kumar were my favourite stars. I wouldn’t miss a single film of theirs. Guru Dutt, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Vijay Anand were some of my favourite directors.
One incident that still amuses me! The day I had watched Ganga Jumna, I couldn’t sleep that night. Vyjayanthimala was dancing on my mental-screen singing ‘Dhoondo dhoondo re saajna…’ I hid under the quilt (as it was winter) copiously shedding tears. Reason: I couldn’t marry the star because she was so much older to me! The Innocent Agony and Ecstasy of Cinema!
Obviously, a serious urge drew you to the FTII, Pune. You would have joined in 1969? You studied film direction and passed out with a Gold Medal as a FTII alumnus of 1971 batch. How do you now look back on the years there? Apart from the Indian films a whole new window to world cinema would have opened up.
Those were the best years of my life. Exposure to world cinema made me aware that in the hands of masters, cinema can be as rich as literature. The perspective that I gained at the institute taught me the reach of cinema and I shall always remain indebted to my alma mater.
Who were your teachers and classmates at the FTII? Also do recall your diploma film there.
The one particular teacher I owe a great deal to is late Satish Bahadur. He was an outstanding mentor. He introduced us to the great potential that the medium had. For me, the spelling of cinema begins with ‘S’.
The other person was Mr. PK Nair, the founder and director of National Film Archives of India. I cannot eulogise him enough. He would hold screenings in the main theatre every night to check the print quality of films. Many of us students would join him. These screenings taught us more than the classrooms did.
In our batch, we were 12 students in all (around that number). KG George, Nirad Narayan Mahapatra, Surendar Chawdhary and I were known as a ‘Gang of Four’. We were mocked at as pseudo-intellectuals. KG made quite a name for himself in Malayalam films, Nirad made a film in Oriya. It is considered a classic and Chawdhary joined the FTII as Professor of Film Direction.
Instead of the diploma film, I’d like to talk about my 2nd year dialogue exercise. It was called Qissa Salim Anarkali - Sadi Bisween. In the opening scene, Salim informs Anarkali that he has chosen her over the throne. Anarkali is very disappointed. She tells him that it was because of the throne that she loved him. She abandons him and Salim sings, Jab Dil Hi Toot Gaya… the immortal Sehgal song. The film was highly stylized. Mrinal da (Sen) had complimented me. He said that the film should be shown across India as a publicity film for the FTII. While I was in third year, it used to be shown to second year students, along with some classics, as an example of what is stylization in cinema.
Who were the filmmakers and the significant films that caught your imagination back then?
Almost all the great filmmakers of Europe. If I name them, they would sound like clichés. One film that I keep reminiscing about is Fellini’s La Strada. Among Indian filmmakers, I find Guru Dutt very close to my heart. There is so much of angst in his films. And his style is so personal and poetic.
Bombay was the next post. How were the initial years here?
I was already married when I shifted to Mumbai (Bombay then). Soon we had our first daughter, Mandira. Coming from a non-filmy background with idealistic ambition, I didn’t know how to go about in the industry. I got my first job through KK Mahajan, a close friend and a star-cameraman having won quite a few National Awards. And then it became a pattern with me. Because I was hardly an enterprising person (I’m not even today) I secured jobs through him.
When I was doing Mukti as the chief assistant director, Pran Mehra, the top-ranking editor was impressed by me and asked if I’d make a film for him. I was taken by surprise. Pran saab wanted a partner to materialize the project. KK was willing to come on board if I was the director. Shabana sent a word through KK that she would like to be in the film. I looked upon Kamleshwar-ji, one of the most prominent names in Hindi literature, as my elder brother. He narrated a story that everyone liked. Sahir saab was to write lyrics (he loved the script and hugged me), but unfortunately, he fell sick. Naqsh Lyallpuri ji wrote memorable lyrics. Jaidevji (I rate him as one of the finest composers) composed the music. And Wohi Baat was made. Then began a series of mishaps. No attempt was made to release the film. I fancied myself as a sufferer, the fate of every ‘great’ artist. My saviour was my wife Neelam, a very simple lady, who firmly held the family together despite my maverick ways.
The only silver lining was that I had faith in my talent and knew that in order to realize my potential I will have to mend my ways. The change happened when our second daughter, Anushree, was born.
Parinay (1974), meaning Espousal/Betrothal, was your debut feature film. It saw you in the capacity of a writer. You co-wrote with Kantilal Rathod and Harin Mehta. It was directed by Kantilal Rathod. It starred Shabana Azmi, Romesh Sharma and Dinesh Thakur, camera: KK Mahajan, music: Jaidev. It had Amitabh Bachchan as the narrator. The film won the 1974 Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration (known as the "Rajat Kamal Special Award” at that time). I recall the resonance of the song ‘Jaise Suraj Ki Garmi Se…’ sung by Sharma Bandhu. Take us back to some moments of its making.
It was KK Mahajan who introduced me to Kanti bhai (the director). I was taken on as the chief assistant. It was here that I met Shabana Azmi for the first time. She and Romesh Sharma (the male lead), fresh from the FTII, weren’t happy with the way scenes were written. So, everyday, I had to rewrite the scenes scheduled for that day. After 3-4 days of shooting Shabana and Romesh told Kanti bhai that instead of wasting shooting time, why doesn’t he ask me to write the dialogue of the entire film.
Many a time I wonder where would I be without my friends! I’m so grateful to all of them. I didn’t, nor do now have the street-smartness that is required to survive and to succeed in our film industry. I’d have just been a forlorn struggler without their consistent support.
Hum Paanch (1980) directed by Bapu and produced by Boney Kapoor had you co-write the dialogues with Rahi Masoom Raza Saheb. It was a remake of the 1978 Kannada film Paduvarahalli Pandavaru. As a contemporary rural-set adaptation of the Mahabharata it had its own individuality and worked very well. Share with us your part in it.
Bapu saab wasn’t happy with the dialogue version Rahi saab had written. I still wonder why he asked Boney Kapoor to let me write the dialogue. It is my observation that life gives you hints as to what course you should take to make the journey. Those who catch it, make a success of their lives. I should have caught it after Parinay.
I must credit Rahi saab for his magnanimity to issue a statement in a trade magazine that the entire credit of Hum Paanch dialogue should go to me. Rahi Masoom Reza, a great writer! A greater human being! Hum Paanch was a turning point in my career. I began to get work as a writer. Thanks to Javed (Akhtar) saab who encouraged me to write after watching the rushes of Hum Paanch. And Mithun Chakraborty, who offered me Boxer.
Was Sameera (1981) your debut as a director? It starred Shabana Azmi, Parikshit Sahni, Mithun Chakraborty and Amol Palekar. Was it earlier called Wohi Baat?
It was. It was shown at IFFI, but was never released. And there is no print available. It stalled my career for a good number of years. Perhaps, my trajectory would have been different had it been released.
Tarang (1984) - Waves, I hold very dear in my fond list of films. It was directed by Kumar Shahani, produced by NFDC, written by Kumar Shahani-Roshan Shahani with dialogues by you. It has over the passage of time come to be considered a seminal work of India’s parallel cinema of the 1970s-1980s. Back then it would have had a limited audience. The film had a simmering dramaturgy and in its own way examined the class-struggle on multiple fronts. Very intriguing play of characters. Amol Palekar, Smita Patil, Girish Karnad, Shreeram Lagoo were first-rate in their acts. The dialogues got marked.
Kumar’s approach to filmmaking is quite formal. Spaces, colors, compositions and movements are all conceived precisely and have theoretical significance. My role was confined to writing dialogues. I particularly enjoyed writing a soliloquy of Smita Patil. It was written in blank verse. Kumar gave me a free hand.
Aitbaar came in 1985. It was directed by Mukul Anand and wholly written by you. It starred Raj Babbar, Dimple Kapadia. As a murder plot was it supposedly a remake of Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder.
Mohan Kumar, the veteran director (Avataar, Amir Garib etc.) called me and praised the dialogue of the film. Dial M for Murder was the genesis, contextualised to suit the Indian narrative form.
Diljalaa (1987), directed by Bapu was written by you. It had Jackie Shroff, Farha. Kurbaan (1991), directed by Deepak Bahry was written by you. It starred Sunil Dutt, Kabir Bedi, Salman Khan. I guess these films were of a different make and would have challenged you in a different way. Did they work?
Diljalaa was a very weak script, however, Kurbaan did fairly well. Salman Khan was impressed by the script and sent a couple of producers to me. Nothing worked out. Frankly, I was struggling to find my voice, and also survive. On one side was my cinematic sensibility evolved by the training at the FTII and exposure to world cinema, and on the other side was our popular cinema, which had turned quite formulaic. I was yet to discover the vitality of its form. Also, there was a great deal of hesitation on my part to pick up challenges.
Were you associated with Satyamev Jayate the film of 1987?
Yes. I wrote the dialogues.
Ram Jaane (1995) was written by you and directed by Rajiv Mehra. It starred Shahrukh Khan, Juhi Chawla. It was plugged as a thriller. SRK was playing the negative role of a gangster. It is said to be a commercial success. Right?
It was much more than a thriller. Ram Jaane is my favourite character, played with much panache by Shah Rukh. The abandoned street urchin who didn’t even know his name and when asked, exclaimed, “Ram Jaane!”
He, a gangster, becomes a role model for the urchins of his locality. When he is sentenced to death for his crimes, the kids think that he is going to die like a brave martyr. Ram Jaane, realizing the damage he would do if he lives up to their perception, behaves like a wimping rat crying for mercy as he is being led to the gallows. For the juveniles, their hero falls from grace. I received Screen Award for the Best Dialogue. The film had done fairly well at the box-office.
It seems during these times of filmmaking, you were like many, trying to address the notion of a market. A very big challenge it would have been.
Initially I was just trying to be like ‘them’. It was much later that I understood the inner principle of our popular cinema’s dramaturgy, evident in the works of our masters. The emotional connect with the viewer, the continuation of our cultural traditions, the deep mythical connection - I attempted to execute my understanding of it in Godmother.
Virasat (1997) is a very fine work. It has your screenplay and dialogues. A remake of Tamil film Thevar Magan, it was directed by Priyadarshan. As a re-make, how did you specifically treat it? Obviously, the dialogues would be, even if adapted from the original, a near-original work. But as a screenplay?
Hardly any changes were made in the screenplay. We almost followed the original. The key scene in Thevar Magan was between the father and son. I don’t remember the details of scene now - it was almost 30 years ago. What I remember is that the son wants to migrate to the city and also wants his father to come along with him. The father is disappointed. He shows him the portraits of his ancestors who had joined Azad Hind Fauj to fight against the British. Thevars are known to fight for their people, that’s the legacy - Virasat. The father says that he would preserve it.
Now, I could find no such parallel in the Hindi heartland where an entire community had participated to fight against the British. So, what logic do I provide to the father to substantiate his argument that he would not leave the village. I thought of an analogy: the father says that you can’t uproot a tree and plant it in a foreign soil. The tree would die.
When I read out the scene to Priyan and Anil Kapoor, they both felt that the original should be followed verbatim. I told Priyan that I would gladly follow the original scene, only he has to tell me how. The scene was replayed on Anil’s video player, and it is to the credit of Priyan that hardly a minute into the scene (it was about 5-6 minutes long) he got up and said: We’ll shoot Vinayji’s scene.
It is with Godmother (1999) that you got into your finest groove. It was written and directed by you. It had Shabana Azmi give a tour-de-force performance. It also co-starred Milind Gunaji, Nirmal Pandey. The film is said to be a Hindi biographical drama inspired by the life of Santokben Jadeja, who ran the Mafia operations at Porbandar, Gujarat, in the late 1980s and early 1990. She later turned politician. How did you ideate and execute it and did it completely measure up to your expectations?
I wanted to write a script for Shabana. She promised me that if the script excites her, she would find a producer for me. From our conversations I gathered that she was looking for a character who was vested in power. If one is vested in power, it is obvious that there would be negative shades.
I had read about Jenabai Daruwali who was active during the times of Haji Mastan and Karim Lala, infamous mafia dons during 1960s and 1970s. Jenabai sold ration in the black market and also hooch (which was prohibited in Bombay then). She was so powerful that if any of her boys (carriers of hooch in tubes) were caught by the police, she would go to Nagpada police station and threaten the cops there that if they did not release her boys immediately, she would do them things ‘unprintable’. I thought that if she were alive today, she would certainly be in politics. This was the birth of Godmother’s character. I felt that if I locate her in Mumbai, she would just be a male version of the regular underworld hero.
I chanced upon a news item about Santokben in a daily. The idea of an ethnic underworld film excited me. I went to Porbandar, gathered information about her and incorporated some incidents from her life in the script. In any case these scenes were archetypal. The film was certainly not about Santokben. It was just a case of fiction meeting fact. Shabana kept her word. The film was made and it won six national awards.
Godmother received many awards. National Award Best feature film in Hindi, Best Music - Vishal Bhardwaj, Best Editing - Renu Saluja, Best Actress - Shabana Azmi, Best Lyrics - Javed Akhtar, Best Male Playback Singer -Sanjeev Abhyankar. And the Filmfare award for best story for you. Right?
Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe (2002) was written and directed by you. It starred Aftab Shivdasani, Esha Deol, Sanjay Kapoor. How do you look back on it?
It was a remake of a Telugu film. My version of the script was rejected. I regret making it. But, it’s a curve that one has to take.
Your last film is Mirch (2010). It is written and directed by you. It starred Konkona Sen Sharma, Raima Sen, Shahana Goswami, Arunoday Singh, Shreyas Talpade, Boman Irani and others. Lyrics were by Javed Akhtar and music by Monty Sharma. The film set in Rajasthan dealt with the core issue of gender equality and women’s sexuality. How did you ideate on this one? Did you base it on a story from the Panchatantra and made it travel to modern times? It is a very delicate film. How was it received?
I had read The Panchatantra story way back in 1970s. I was surprised that the ancient collection of stories also contained stories of adultery in it. What a taboo-free society we had way back then! One afternoon, I narrated the story to Mr. Manmohan Shetty. He was in splits. “But how would you stretch it to a feature film length?” he asked. “By making it a bouquet of 4 stories centring around the same theme: What happens when a woman is caught red-handed with her paramour by her husband, and yet manages to wriggle out of it free,” I replied with a poker face.
So, the film had four stories connected with a bridging story. Only the first story was from The Panchatantra. The rest were from different sources. Since there were 4 stories, I placed them in 4 seasons. The stories travel in time. The first one is from The Panchatantra - ancient. The second one was adapted from Decameron - medieval period. The third one is from an Italian folklore - late 90s. And the fourth one from a news clip - present times.
Four Stories had color palettes according to the seasons. How personal spaces have shrunk over a period of time, and how the language has devolved. I wished that the film was better promoted.
Which award do you hold very dear?
The National Award.
Did you help set up the writing course at the FTII in 2004 and also the one at Whistling Woods, Mumbai? You also teach and conduct workshops at the Satyajit Ray Film Institute (Kolkata), and in Lucknow. You have been a mentor at MAISHA (Mira Nair's organisation), Kampala, in 2006. These engagements of a teacher must be gratifying. Also, does India need more film appreciation education?
Since audio-visual communication has become such an integral part of our lives and is consuming so much of our time, I think Film Appreciation courses would help making the viewership more discerning in watching the content. Such courses could be held weekly in all educational institutes. They would, in due course of time, affect the quality of content in a positive way.
I did help in setting up the SPW course in the FTII, but it was almost entirely Anjum Rajabali who laid the foundation and built the edifice. He is by far the best screenwriting teacher in the country and would rank there internationally. He is extremely passionate about spreading the knowledge of the craft. I have occasionally visited the above-mentioned institutions to hold brief courses. Yes, I was there at MAISHA.
Sorry, for this little quaint inquiry. But did you act in Maqbool?
I did. Vishal ji called me one morning and said that there is a small cameo that he wants me to do. Reason: he could see only me in the role. Naseer thinks that I was effective.
You have two daughters. You wrote on Facebook, “I take so much of pride that both my daughters are kind-hearted.” Share what you want to share about them and your wife. Daughter Mandira Shukla is a costume-designer in films. Anushree is the younger one. Is she a painter?
Anushree is a visual artist and designer. She is going to do a post-graduate diploma course in Design at ISDI, Mumbai. She was to go to Shrishti last year, but couldn’t because of my wife’s health and then her passing away. She’s multi-talented and assisted Vishal Bhardwaj ji for a year as a member of his writing team. She writes very well, but her passion is visual art and design.
Mandira has worked with major production houses. Her CV is quite impressive: Chak De India, Agneepath, Fanaa and so on. Presently she’s doing Dharma’s Selfie, an Akshay Kumar starrer. I totally depend on her for the way she envisions the looks of the character’s, be it Godmother or Mirch.
Mandira must be one of the very few designers who considers costumes as an extension of the characters. Both Mandira and Anushree would never do anything to hurt another human being. I respect their values. They are precious legacies of Neelam who left us in October, 2021. Since then, life has ceased to be real for me. As Kaifi Saab says, ‘Jism se rooh talak ret hi ret/Na kaheen dhoop na saya na saraab’.