Lakeerien required responsible storytelling – Kriti Nagar

Lucknow: Young Film Writer Kriti Nagar has many passions  – writing, Production, Film Direction and even creative expression but writing for films tops the list. Knowing her passionate self early, when she got appreciated for her work back in college, she planned brick by brick. Having done well as an independent filmmaker and proven herself with past projects, she forayed into the glitzy world of Bollywood as a co – writer for Durgesh Pathak directorial Lakeerein. She speaks to the Lucknow Tribune about how she feels being a part of a big project with the film now running in multiplexes.

From short films to a proper film production as a co writer how do you see your journey?

I am extremely grateful for all my life experiences and especially working in a full fledged feature film. I believe this has made me more excited to work on a much bigger canvas, where I can tell the story which can connect with the hearts and soul of wider audience.

As a student assisting your mentor what are the lessons you have taken home from this professional venture?

I have learnt a lot during the making of this feature film-Lakeerien. Durgesh Sir is my Guru and will always be.

I have learned so much from him every day, during the making of this film. One teaching that I have taken home with me is to handle such a huge number of crew.This was my first feature film experience. So I have never seen such a huge hierarchy of departments.

Under his supervision, it was commendable to see that everything went so smoothly and amicably.

How do you think Lakeerein challenged you to do better?

Lakeerein is not just any ordinary commercial film. It reveals such a sensitive area of life which is not really talked about in the open.It also opens up the possibility to reflection on our actions and behaviours to some extent and how we see the rules of society as a whole.

During the course of writing the screenplay of this film.I stumbled upon few ladies,who are really doing well in their professional life. They are having a highly respectable job, jobs which are society expect a women should lead. On the outside, they are the most jolly person, or atleast they have learnt the art of deception to make everyone happy around them. But still their personal life nothing but a hell which they cannot escape.

I have always wondered, why they don’t open up and say that,“enoughisenough..I can’t take it anymore.”

Maybe their family responsibilities are holding them back and suffer in silence. Or it’sthe

Society who is  not yet ready to think about it in the deeper way.

This film has made me question a lot about how life is and how blessed I am to receive a platform which can affect change in our society.

This was not a first working alongside Durgeshji foryou,but this relatively big project must have given you a different worldview into filmmaking? Your comments?

This film has opened the doors of the whole new world to me. Honestly, I did have idea about Marital rape before.But I am not sorry to say that this film has given the opportunity as a writer to understand both side of the story. What could have led a man, a husband, a man with sound mind could get into such thing which can give a trauma and humiliation to his own life partner. As a writer, I had to understand both the sides of the coin.

As a master in language did Ashutosh Rana add to your learning curve?

Oh my god. Yes. A lot. Ashutosh sir is a real gem when it comes to crafting dialogues and articulating in his own unique way. He used to praise me for the dialogues I had written for him and sometime correct me where he felt that his character should articulate things in a betterway.I am really reall ygrateful that I have earned the opportunity to interact with him and learned so much about the character arc and how dialogues can be used as a lasting impression on the audience’s mind.

How much of an emotional drive did this project bring? You have in the past been known to be driven by emotion? Any memory from college?

I am glad you remember this. I am still driven by emotion and till will always be there. It’s

the fuel that keeps me going.

This film was indeed an emotional roller-coaster ride. This was a sensitive subject to explore. When I met and interacted with few ladies who have been through this or still suffering in silence.I felt that it’s not only their fault that they are not speaking up but I felt

It is our fault as a society that we still believe in prevailing the institution of marriage; evenif

That means that the women will be “kept” on the toes.

We think that we are living in a developed nation. But our mindset has yet to be developed. I am not saying that every women should just abandon their family. All I wish that at least they should communicate what they felt is wrong.Atleast 50% of any problem can be solved with clear communication. No one is a mind reader.

Why do you think beyond commercial cinema there is room for serious filmmaking in today’s OTT driven age?

I passionately believe that the landscape of Indian Cinema is emerging with groundbreaking stories that can affect change and can be entertaining at the same time.

Movie like Satya Prem Ki Katha can be the perfect example I can think of. Nowadays our audience is looking for content driven films. Films that are entertaining to watch yet makes us think about various aspects of life.

I believe OTT channels have raised the bar when it comes to filmmaking. Nowadays makers needs to be very careful in creating the right canvas for their film. As the audience have now developed the perspective to consume content which resonates more to them. They may still watch commercially entertaining films in the bigger screens. But when it comes to OTT they’ll watch films that are content driven. Films that resonates with their soul. So there will always be a room where content driven films can find the right audience.

As a woman writing about avery sensitive topic like maritalrape,what did you keep in mind?

As a woman,It was extremely difficult to just even imagine what woman in real life has gone through. It aces my heart to the core. Writing on such a sensitive topic was challenging as I have to dive into the inner life of the character.

In the beginning my mind, heart and soul was deeply empathic towards the female characters. But very soon I realised that I needed to stay balanced in my approach otherwise I won’t be able to understand man’s point of view.I can’t be biased in my writing otherwise the entire film will have just one side approach in such a sensitive topic.

Therefore, even the male character in this film is nota bad guy. He is a teacher of Hindi Literature. He is a respectable member of the society. He doesn’t think that he is a monster. He feels that as a wife, it’s her duty to take care of him as he takes care of her.I kept reminding myself through-out the writing process that I needed to understand and be equally empathic to both sides of the story.Otherwise the film will be more like a one sided fake feminist film.

Any specific part that you feel was really moving to pen down?

There are so many moments to share but what still keeps me grilling, even after the film is shot, is that when the woman character has an emotional breakdown in the courtroom and says that her husband has raped her without her consent. And Ashutosh sir’s characterimmediatelyreplies..“consent..agar aapka consent apne husband ke liye nahi hai.Toyeh bhi bata dijiye ke kiske liye hai.” As I mentioned before, this was the balance I needed to keep in writing.

It’s really difficult for any man to understand whether he is being intimate with his partner or is raping her.Especially when there is no honest communication between the partners.

As an independent filmmaker,how differentdo you feel the approach was whenyou dealt with mainstream filmmaking?

Filmmaking process is always the same.The only difference is in the length of script,the crew and the number of shooting days.

Every team member in this film was on their toes all the time. To make this film a huge success.Everyday after the shoot,even if we are all extremely tired,still we used to have a team meeting and discuss each and everything we needed to do for the next day.

When I say tired, I literally mean that we didn’t have enough strength to even climb up the stairs or even call or text anyone. But still we used to gather some amount of strength to discuss things. The passion and dedication shown by each and every team member is commendable.

Do you ever plan to go fullthrottle as a writer yourself?

I have always been an avid reader since childhood. Which has somehow encouraged me to write my ownstories.When I was in 6th standard, my mother gave me this journal to write short stories, lyrics and poems. I feel some kind of peace whenever Iwrite.But I never imagined that I will ever write a full length feature film.

When I was In college DurgeshSir once said to me that I should never quit writing.As Iwas more inclined towards film direction,at the time.Somehow his words stayed with me after college too. So when he presented this opportunity before me. I didn’t think twice before accepting it with all my heart.

Your five mantras for good writing?

My five mantras will be

Write with all your mind,heart and soul.

If you are happy with your writing and you find this undeniable urge to read it multipletimes just to quench your soul,without getting bored once.Then you have written something that people will appreciate.

If you are writing a fiction story.Don’ tpick your favourite.

Write each character as if you are them.Even if you are writing an antagonist.Being his shoes and understand him (the character) from in and out.

Do a lot of research on topicyou have little knowledge.Your research should be from authentic and credible source only.

Does research play a big role while giving vent to your thought?

Research is the foundation in the building the story world.Without it, the story will be

Baseless and superficial. It won’t resonate with everyone.

Research becomes even more crucial step when a story is emotionally challenging and has a stake on society’s perception.

Thesedays,even a miniscule topic can transform into heated debate in the society.So,as a filmmaker and writer, it is our duty to keep our facts checked before things can get escalated in the other direction.

With women reservation the buzzword in India,do you think women filmmakers should lead tinsel town?

I strongly believe only those who have enough passion to make soulful yet entertaining films, should lead and uphold the legacy of our Indian Cinema.Gender doesn’t really makes much difference.

There are many filmmakers who has given such beautiful story to cherish.No audience will go and watch the movie only by considering the gender of the filmmaker. They will watch the film if they feel connected with the story or with the character.

Lastly did you think media schooling with your first break in front of Faarooque Sheikh would land you in Bollywood?

Oh God! you hit the nail on the head. Although I havealways been inclined to writing stories and directing plays in school. But meeting the legend late Faarooque Sheikh sahab, and even getting the appreciation for my first ever acting performance in the play staged at Amity university Lucknow, was so Magical that words can’t express what it felt.

It was more like he opened the magical door for Bollywood. For months, I was engrossed in the anticipation of what it felt like to work in film industry.This was the first time I felt that I was more passionate towards filmmaking.Since that day,I started investing more time in the college library and studying about the great filmmakers of our IndianCinema.Where I fell in love with the creative masterpieces of the legendary director Satyajit Ray.

As I look back, I can’t thank enough for all the life experiences I had which has made me whoIamrightnow.I am truly humbled and grateful for each and every one who has been with me in this life’s journey thus far.


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