She made her directorial debut with ‘Sangharsh’, a violent drama and followed it up with ‘Dushman’, another violent drama. Tanuja Chandra went on to make a few more films that did not do very well. After a nine-year long sabbatical, she returned to the movies with ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’, a film which managed to strike a chord with the audience. In this interview, Tanuja Chandra talks about her new short film ‘Monsoon Date’, why the short-film format excites her, wish to revive ‘Chitthiyan’, getting feedback from sister Anupama Chopra and more.
How did the idea come for this short film to you?
The script is written by Gazal (Dhaliwal) but I have to take the credit for putting the idea into her head (laughs). We wrote quite a few drafts before finalising one. I always wanted to do a film where there would be rain or monsoon throughout. It was difficult to do a feature film in that space until it was set in one day. Monsoon and the rains add to the visual beauty of the film but it is also an important metaphor in the story.
The film was screened at MAMI last year.
Yes, I wanted the film to travel to as many festivals as possible. It travelled to several festivals all across the globe and we got a great response everywhere.
You had earlier directed a short film starring Kartik Aaryan called ‘Silvat’.
I do not know if there is a better way to describe it but that was actually a long, short film. It was a 45-minute long film. I enjoyed making that film very much. Kartik was not as popular as he is now. Working with him and the rest of the unit was a great experience. I love this format of short films as it allows you to experiment with different kind of stories. Our producers at Eros were very supportive. Making ‘Monsoon Date’ was not a struggle at all. I wanted to work with Konkona for a very long time but we did not get the right subject till this one happened.
Your early films ‘Sangharsh’ and ‘Dushman’ were quite violent. Recently you made ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’ which was a light-hearted romantic drama and now, you have made ‘Monsoon Date’. How did this shift happen?
I wanted to make a comedy for a very long time. ‘Monsoon Date’, of course, is not a comedy but ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’ was. I would like to make films in different genres.
Your sister Anupama Chopra is a popular film journalist. Do you get feedback from her on your work?
Anupama never does reviews of films where a family member or relative is involved. So, we end up getting informal criticism and reviews from her. My brother-in-law (Vidhu Vinod Chopra) is an incredible person when it comes to discussing work and getting feedback. He is very honest and critical. I always get good feedback from him.
You were supposed to direct a film called ‘Chitthiyan’ for him.
Yes, unfortunately that film never went on the floors for various reasons. We worked very hard on the script for a long time. I genuinely believe that a script never goes to waste. Hopefully, it will be made someday.
There was a nine-year long gap between ‘Hope And A Little Sugar’ (2008) and ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’ (2017). Why did you take such a long gap?
I never intended to take a break. I was constantly working. I was developing different scripts but nothing really worked out for a long time.
What are you doing next?
I am working on a couple of ideas. My next project might be a film or a web show.