Sharmajee Ki Beti which marks Tahira Kashyap Khurrana’s debut as a filmmaker, opened to an overwhelming response at the recently concluded edition of the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. Screened twice at the festival, both screenings saw the audience offer a standing ovation to Khurrana and her team. Team Free Press Journal caught up with the filmmaker to understand her process.
Reacting to the response received, Tahira shares, “The heart is so, so full. Especially because it's for a film that celebrates women. Not often, do you have such a response where people are laughing and crying, while they’re watching women on screen. That was a conscious effort that I ensured where people do not resort to stereotyping women and women-oriented films in a certain way.”
A still from the film
Glimpses of women tearing up at the screenings were witnessed. When asked to comment over how her labour of love is finding its connect, Tahira reveals, “That's the only reason why we make films and write stories. That's the only reason why I've taken to filmmaking because I want to reach people's hearts. I want everybody to be an empath in this situation. There has to be empathy, not sympathy but something that they have gone through, seen through and, and how it can be a joyful experience. My way of filmmaking is optimistic and I don’t like to dwell in sorrow. I don’t like to rub wounds or revisit painful experiences. I like to see hope.”
A lot of films about women and their concerns depend upon holding a gaze. What does Tahira opine? “Gaze towards films should be gender neutral. There can be many different perspectives towards the same kind of stories. The reflection of a filmmaker comes from his/her lived-in experiences. Which is why I believe that as long as there is a moment of truth in the narrative, the gaze is irrelevant.”
As we conclude, Tahira reveals how much of her lies in the film. “There's a bit of me in all the characters of the film. I’ve lived through my terrible teens and today, when I screened the film, there were 19-year olds who were coming to me and they were telling me that they felt the same way.”
She further adds, “I felt exactly how Kiran (played by Divya Dutta in the film) feels, when I came to Mumbai. I was so lost and kept asking the same questions that Kiran does. Speaking of Jyoti’s character (played by Sakshi Tanwar), I feel that guilt is eternal in the lives of women. I consciously tell myself to not feel guilty and I hope I can encourage my children too to make their choices without feeling apologetic,” she signs off.