The filmmaker in a candid chat about the documentary he is supporting, his daughter, and ‘best friend’ Kalki Koechlin
What made you present the documentary, The World Before Her?
I had to come on board and present this film because it wasn’t getting a release in India. The film draws parallels between a beauty pageant and a fundamentalist Hindu camp for girls, highlighting the opportunities for women in contemporary India.
It is an extremely powerful film and it is so non-judgmental. The film is about how two girls manage to live in the world with dignity and respect that they seek. That’s when you feel that instead of judging people, you should try and give them opportunities. In any case, documentaries are more interesting than fiction films these days.
Does this mean that you will soon make a documentary?
My home is full of documentaries. If you look at it most of the films that I do, you will realise that the idea for these films come from real-life stories. I am interested in them because that’s how I learn and grow. I have tried to make documentaries, it but it needs too much travelling. I like to sit, let my team do the research and then I write it like a film and shoot it. But yes, I would want to make one some day, before that I need to find a good subject.
This documentary deals with the contrasting lives of two girls and you are a father to a teenaged girl, so tell us about your equation with her.
My daughter is 13-years-old and she is my very good friend. I talk about everything with her. There is nothing we hide between us; she asks me a question and I answer it. I don’t hesitate even if the question is about sexuality.
Your personal life is under constant public scrutiny...
I have switched on this phone after two months. I have simply stayed away from the media because it is unnecessarily obsessed with people’s personal lives and I am a free-spirited person, who lives his life very openly. There are no secrets, but the media insists on creating stories out of nowhere. Kalki and I are not together now; it’s a matter of the past. But she is still my best friend; we continue to discuss everything. So it’s for her to know what’s happening in my personal life and for her to tell me if she wants to tell me about hers. We are two independent people and we live like friends who have their own separate lives now.