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'The Night Manager' co-director Priyanka Ghose: Women aren’t trusted enough to handle action

Updated on: 16 June,2023 07:14 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Mohar Basu |

Lamenting that action has long been a male bastion, The Night Manager co-director Priyanka on how she fought stereotyping and detractors to enjoy helming the genre

'The Night Manager' co-director Priyanka Ghose: Women aren’t trusted enough to handle action

Priyanka Ghose

Call it the Hindi film industry’s bias or what you may, but action movies are always associated with men. Which is why Priyanka Ghose co-directing The Night Manager could be viewed as an anomaly by many around her. When we sit down to chat with her ahead of the thriller’s second part dropping online this month, Ghose states matter-of-factly, “[Action offerings] are a male bastion.” So, when she got the opportunity to helm the Anil Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapur and Sobhita Dhulipala-led action series, she “ran with it”. “Over the years, female directors rarely took up action. It could be a mix of both — a lack of interest from their side, and they are not trusted enough to handle it. I got the opportunity here, and had a lot of fun doing the action extravaganza. There are elaborate set-pieces directed by me. All it takes is one man to trust you, and Sandeep [Modi, showrunner-director] trusted me. He saw value in my interest in the genre,” she says. 

Kapur plays a hotel manager-turned-spyKapur plays a hotel manager-turned-spy

However, there were different issues on the ground level. Stunt crews are male-dominated, and Ghose heading them was out of the ordinary. The trick, she says, is to know your job so well that those around start respecting you for what you bring to the table. “I studied the process of [setting up fight sequences] and understood their technicalities early on in my career. I knew my edit beforehand, I knew how to budget it correctly. At the end of the day, if you know the craft, the technical crew will respect it. Our action director Paramjeet Dhillon has worked with me a lot. But sometimes, there would be a local line producer, who would think, ‘Arre, isey kya pata hoga?’ But I was so thorough with my homework that no matter what they threw on the table, I knew how to solve it.”

Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Debicki led the British originalTom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Debicki led the British original

Having a woman at the helm benefited the Disney+ Hotstar series, which is an adaptation of the Tom Hiddleston-led British series of the same name, in many ways. A case in point being the depiction of women. “During the London screening, many studio executives told me that the female characters were stronger in our adaptation than in the original. It was heartwarming to hear that. During the pre-production, we did a lot of back and forth on our female characters. I would keep changing things, saying that women don’t talk like this. I ensured that Lipika [Tillotama Shome’s character] did not come across as a feminist propaganda mouthpiece.”

Kapur plays a hotel manager-turned-spy

Her belief was only reaffirmed by Hiddleston who, at the London screening on March 17, couldn’t stop raving about the adaptation. “He spent the evening discussing scenes and asking us how we did a certain sequence. He felt that Aditya was better than him in certain parts.” So, do we see a crossover soon? “We’re talking of a multiverse set-up. I hope we get enough love to pursue that route.”

Priyanka GhosePriyanka Ghose

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