Nandita Das
Nandita Das

Mumbai: Actress-filmmaker Nandita Das is all set to start her upcoming film "Manto" from next month and says the movie is a "very big project" for her.

The biopic stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the lead role of the celebrated writer, Saadat Hasan Manto. Nandita says apart from the "Raees" actor, prominent names from the industry will be joining the project.

"The work is going on in full swing. We are going on floors from March 15, so there's a lot of work. It's a very big project for me. It's a period film, we will recreate 1940s here," she told reporters.

"Nawazuddin is the lead but we have a lot of prominent names supporting the film, I am very fortunate. They are ready to do even small roles, all of the names will be out soon. I hope you'll watch the film."

The filmmaker says the team is aiming to wrap up the shoot of the film soon as they don't have the budget of a big Bollywood movie.

"It is an independent film, not a typical Bollywood song and dance film. We don't have a big budget so we can't stretch it (the shooting) till 200 days. We will try to shoot it as fast as we can, in a very efficient way."

Nandita, however, did not reveal who has replaced Om Puri in the film, as the actor passed away earlier this year, before starting the film.

She was speaking at the book launch of "The First Storyteller" by Varun Gwalani. At the event, Nandita along with the author indulged in a dialogue with the audience on mental health.

Nandita says it is unfortunate that people deal with mental illness in a hushed tone and don't even have a proper vocabulary for it.

"We need to be unapologetic about mental illness. Mental illness is like any other illness. There are other cures. In our society we don't even have the right vocabulary. We don't even know how to deal with it. Either it is hushed or there is a discomfort. We just don't have conversations about it.

"We need to have more compassion. I don't know what mental illness is... I feel we all have some kind of mental illness. Some express it more openly, some don't."