I am amazed to see Odias outside Odisha not speaking Odia: Nandita Das

Bhubaneswar: Well known actress, filmmaker and social activist Nandita Das is in Bhubaneswar to attend the International Film Festival by JD Centre of Art. Odishatv.in caught up with her to know more about the film fest, her upcoming film ‘Manto’ and many other issues. The excerpts….

  • ‘Manto’ & possibility of a controversy

Anything worth saying today is going to become controversial, so how shall we define ‘Controversial’! These days we don’t know what people are going to get upset about. We can’t live with that kind of a fear. For me, ‘Manto’ is a very personal and intimate story of a writer. He is a man of free spirit, he fought for freedom of expression and I think this story is very relevant today.  Out of all these, what is controversial?

  • Gujarati movie ‘Dhaad’

“Dhaad’ was a actually a Gujarati film in which I acted in 2003. We got into a big financial problem and were unable to finish the film. It’s a pity that independent cinema has always struggled. The place for independent cinema is still very small. Through the ages many independent films have been made and I doubt if people can make those films today.

  • JDCA film fest

JD Centre of Art is something that my father started to bring together folk, traditional, contemporary and tribal art under one roof. To create an awareness and to sensitize people about art and artists, 12 years ago this film festival was started. There are films from Odisha, films from different parts of the country as well as international films. There is a good line up of films at the festival.

  • Odia films

There are many Odia filmmakers and I meet some of them in Mumbai. I ask them, why are you doing sound work or editing or cinematography in Mumbai, why not in Odisha? They reply, Aagyan sethi kehi kichhi karunahanti (No one does anything in Odisha). Nothing is happening here so as creative people you need to satisfy your stimulus. If we as audiences truly support that kind of cinemas I am sure people will come up and I think things are changing.

  • ‘Me Too’ campaign

I feel very strongly about many issues. I don’t want to call these issues as these are things which impact me, my family and people around me. Stories of sexual assaults by Harvey Weinstein that came out in the US had a ripple effect around the globe and so many women started speaking up. So many amazing articles have also come out and I am glad about it. It is sad that in India not so many people have spoken out. Lot of people have reached out to me. I was never directly assaulted as I never wanted to be an actress. I came in much later and I was already vocal about various issues. So people were wary of me. The ‘Me Too’ campaign is all about saying that we are not isolated. Those women who have spoken up are not isolated. We don’t want anything else, we only want to be treated as people just like men are treated. It’s about speaking the truth of the society.

  • A proud Odia

My father is an extremely passionate Odia. I meet Odias outside the state those who don’t speak Odia and don’t eat Odia food and I am quite amazed by that. They say that they left Odisha before they were 18. I reply that I have never stayed here but thanks to my father who used to take us to Baripada, our home town, every year, me with my cousins used to sing Odia songs and especially the food here is highly sophisticated. It really breaks my heart that people don’t know what we eat. The number of Pithas, the vegetables that we use, the variety of sweets we have, variety of fish and mutton – we have variety in every single thing and yet nobody knows about it. My connection with the state is very deep.