Q&A: DEEPA MEHTA
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.