Absolutely! The opening scene of the film begins with a very popular song in Indian Cinema, which is based on male friendship. I do not know of any popular Indian films which are based on women friendships. So right in the beginning, I have tried to make this point. It also sums up my interest and reason behind writing this story. We have grown up seeing films on men friendships and I always used to wonder why we don’t see any women friendship films when they actually do exist in real life. The few ones that have attempted are more on a triangle love story where one-woman friend will sacrifice her love interest for her woman friend. It made me think, why can’t women just have fun and be in interesting situations and bond? “All I Want Is Everything” is about three girls who have conversations about many things in life other than men! Something like the Bechdel test!!
When the story is about our lives, our dreams, our fears, our anxiety, our desires and our aspirations the outcome is a woman oriented film.
As I was writing the script I kept thinking of a title and then one day I saw a close friend of my mine wearing this T shirt which said “All I Want Is Everything”…is that a problem?! I instantly fell in love with the line as I felt it was really apt for my film. The point is also that women in a patriarchal society have to make many adjustments and are sometimes not even entitled to any rights. Sometimes we give up our careers for our children, sometimes our parents don’t back us enough, for us to pursue our dreams and so I thought as women why can’t we have everything? Why do we constantly have to compromise, adjustment and adapt to situations made by the society. How about some freedom in making the choice of living life, the way we want? Honestly I felt a kind of liberation using this title, as I myself come from a conservative family and I completely understand the situation that women and girls have to deal with everyday
Did any specific female friendships in film help to inspire you to write this script? What do you think makes for a realistic female friendship in a film?
No, just the opposite! Male friendships inspired me to write this story because as I have pointed out there are no women friendship films that I know of in Indian Cinema. When you see the film you will realize that the girls behave and talk normally like all of us do in real life. I have tried to maintain real as reel! The girls are just being themselves. We had no glamorous sets, no sizzling item songs; these are characters that are like you and me, without too much make up or make over. I think what makes a realistic woman friendship film is: women bond and support each other and when that itself becomes the focus of the story it’s true to its subject. When the story is about our lives, our dreams, our fears, our anxiety, our desires and our aspirations the outcome is a woman oriented film.
Casting for this film was an interesting job and an experience in itself. My line producer Shobna and I went all around universities and contacted theatre groups to see if we could find the right people to act in this film. We did this for two months. Either I did not feel they were okay for the role, or sometimes the girls I met did not seem to have the commitment I was looking for. Also we were really working on low budgets and we could not afford high payments. When I had just started to lose hope we chanced upon Sagari who has played Vaijanti in the film. When I met Sagari, I knew that she would fit the role of Vaijanti someone who looks traditional and comes from a conservative family. She had a beautiful face, which I was sure could look sad at the same time. Sagari also had some acting experience as she had done theatre. Someone who was looking for the right kind of a break in films, I thought would surely be serious about her role. Ianta who did the role of Trisha just came to meet us at office one day and she instantly won me over with an impish smile of hers. Trisha is a lively character and I was convinced that Ianta would fit this role and she was also just 16 and probably impressionable! Sampada who plays Nidhi was a true find. It was like her role had waited for her. Nobody was willing to do a bold role in the film either they had hang ups or they were just not sure. Sampada instantly agreed to take up the challenge. As far our working relationship was concerned I feel all of us bonded more when we did rehearsals three weeks prior to the main shoot. During the main shoot the pressure was extremely high to complete the shoots within the deadline as all of us had full time jobs to get back to. Thus we could not really spend too much time together something that I do regret now.
I think women’s issues across the world have many commonalities and though some societies look very liberal they are actually quite conservative. So I think my film will appeal to many women in the world. They will be able to relate to the questions of freedom and the right to choices, in their respective lives, which is the focus of the film. Having said this, I would like to state that the film has no strong in your face message or is not preachy. What I want to say lies in the sub text, which you need to figure out yourself. It’s a fun narrative interspersed with serious issues of contemporary women in modern India.
How and why did you and your partners form Banayenge films? And how does your new film fit with the mission of the company?
Banayenge films, the name has a story behind it. Many, many years ago, a few friends and I were discussing films and the craft over a chai, cup of tea near a road side stall. During the conversation I delightedly shouted with joy and excitement with the thought that I wanted to make a film someday. I felt it did not look like an impossible dream and said “banayenge banayenge” which means, we will we will, make films! That’s how the name Banayenge films was conjured up and it became an email id for a very long time. Much later when I started to write this script I thought this would be a good name for a company which aimed at telling compelling stories that did not necessarily have to rely on big budgets and mainstream storylines. My close friends, Rekha Pappu and Jhansi Laxmi backed me up instantly as producers when I told them the story and film that I wanted to make. So I think the unique feature of this entire process has been that women friends got together to make a film on women friendship.
I think to form a company is easy; to market what you make is the tough part as we all know. Sometimes you have to just do it on your own. Word of mouth, social networking sites and media I feel have been the main mediums used to promote this film. One thing marketing does is to push you out of your comfort zone. I am quite a shy person and this film has really made me more social. I think connecting up with people in the field and constantly negotiating for a space or a platform to speak about your film really helps. I am also of the opinion that people will support you if you are really passionate about it. I think getting into film festivals is a great mode of getting publicity and experience as well. All of this means constantly working, planning, negotiating a fair chance with mainstream and alternative forums that encourage and support independent cinema. In the future I hope to improve the brand of Banayenge films through meaningful cinema and documentaries.
Have you drawn from your experience as a journalist and work in television to inform your directorial debut film?
I feel both the areas are quite different but do have some similarities. Film and television are not only about creativity but also about organizational skills. My skills in television helped me work on low budgets, cost cutting and working with specific deadlines and having a full fledged production and post production plan on paper, all required in television which is in most cases 24 hours. I put these skills into use and could work within the time frame, which was given to me, to do the production of this film. When you are working on a film that is made on limited budgets you do everything. It’s the same with television as well. Both mediums are sometimes very situational in terms of work. You have to just jump into the process and be ready to wear different hats!
Website: Banayenge Films
YouTube: Banayenge Films Channel
Guest post for Her Film: "The Unmaking of a Women's Show"
Naveena website: tv9naveena.com
Shital Morjaria is a Media Professional. Shital started her career in media with creative writing and television reporting and has made many documentaries on social issues. Presently she works as Executive Producer for TV9, a television news channel which is based in Hyderabad, India. In 2008 Shital won the Goenka, the highest award in journalism in India for her show “Naveena,” based on women’s issues from a gender and rights perspective. All I Want is Everything is her debut film as a director.
(All images courtesy of the filmmaker.)