As Indian movies or films set in the country are gaining visibility globally at various international film festivals and award ceremonies including Oscars, celebrated film director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari says that this is the right time to be “unapologetically Indian” with our stories.
After the India-set film Period. End of Sentence won an Oscar this year, how has the acceptance of Indian content increased abroad?
“I think internationally we have reached that stage where people are watching us, we really do not have to go and ask people to watch us. We have managed to create our visibility through our films and various cultural ventures…. We just have to be unapologetically Indian, with our stories,” Ashwiny told IANS here.
However, she believes that every story finds its own audience internationally because there are two kinds of international audience out there for Indian content – Indians settled abroad for generations and non-Indians.
Citing an example of her film Nil Battey Sannata, a story set in a village of India, shows a fragment of the society. The content is hyperlocal. It went on to win awards at international film festivals such as Silk Road International Film Festival.
Ashwiny said that the universal emotions of the film were bridging the gap between the eastern and western worlds.
She explained: “Keeping the social background, it was the story of a mother and her daughter. The bond is universal. Similarly, the film Dangal did well at the international market because it is the story of a father-daughter relationship and how the daughters are living the dream of their father.”
She was speaking on the sidelines of the 20th edition of FICCI FRAMES, a global media and entertainment conclave, last week.
Has the interest of releasing an Indian film widely increased among international distributors?
“I would say that when it comes to releasing a film, whether in India or abroad, the screen count always depends on how much faith the distributors have on a film. When a film is released, they are investing money, so it is logical for them to be calculative and that is where the system is layered.”
“When I am making a film, I am doing it with a certain conviction. But how much faith the producer and distributor will show in the final product is not in my hands.”
“If the wavelength matches, nothing like it!” explained the director, who received a positive response for her last release Bareilly Ki Barfi.
Asked if being a storyteller, she frames her narration to cater to the international audience, Ashwiny said: “I think every story has its own flow and we should not tamper that just to match up to the expectations of a particular audience. Every story is shaped differently.”
“Though ‘Bareilly…’ and ‘Nil…’- are both small-town stories, they are different…I know that my upcoming film ‘Panga‘ has the elements that will connect with the international audience widely,” she added.
“However, I am not doing it purposely. I always go with the flow of the story,” she added.
“Of course I cannot expect the same response from the international audience for my ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’. So not all the films can cater to the international audience.