Q&A: DEEPA MEHTA

India Today - - INSIDE - —Joanna Lobo

Q. What ex­cites you about this year’s longlist in the JCB PRIZE for Lit­er­a­ture?

We [the jury] read more than 61 books or, as some­one counted, 150,000 pages. Some of those sto­ries just stood out. As Shake­speare said, there are three kinds of sto­ries in the world, but it is the way you tell them that mat­ters. In these books, the con­cerns and the way they were de­picted were very dif­fer­ent. Whether it’s the lan­guage, the trans­la­tion, there was gen­der and ecol­ogy and also, a deep love for hu­man­ity that re­ally touched me.

Q. What are your thoughts on con­tem­po­rary In­dian lit­er­a­ture?

Based on the short­listed 10 books, I’d say, it is very healthy. If some­one asked me if I would adapt any of these into movies, I would say yes to all.

Q. What do you seek to con­vey through your films?

What mo­ti­vates me to tell a story is cu­rios­ity. If some­thing in­trigues me or I don’t know much about it, that’s the first mo­ti­va­tion. It be­comes a ques­tion of ex­plo­ration. I want to know more about it, then I say, this will make a good film.

Q. Is the In­dian film in­dus­try ca­pa­ble enough to look at his­tory and preva­lent so­cial is­sues?

I’ve seen some re­ally fab­u­lous In­dian movies re­cently. They weren’t his­tor­i­cal but con­tem­po­rary. I loved Masaan, Titli and am re­ally look­ing for­ward to Manto.

Q. Do you be­lieve that ev­ery story, be it in a book or on the screen, should have a mes­sage?

I’ll speak as a film­maker. I don’t read a book and say that’s an in­cred­i­ble mes­sage. When I read, it’s about the lan­guage, the imag­i­na­tion, the story. A mes­sage is the last thing on my mind. I find mes­sages bor­ing.

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