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Lavanya Bahuguna


10 Minutes With Gauri Shinde & She Revealed Her ‘Neat’ Writing Rituals To Us

  • IWB Post
  •  December 6, 2017


A few years ago, filmmaker Gauri Shinde illuminated the world with her women-in-action films – ‘English Vinglish’ (2012) and ‘Dear Zindagi’ (2016).

In a short period, this curly-haired woman has crammed more accolades into her career than most. To know what makes her content from within and inspires her to come up with such refreshing ideas, we met her during the Woman Up! Summit in Jaipur.

In one of your interviews, you said – “…since R. Balki (my husband) is older, more powerful and already established, it makes it that much more difficult for me to come out of his shadow and be viewed as an individual.” Can you throw some light on the struggles you faced?

I made this statement before my first film was released. There is no denying in the fact that he is more experienced and learned in terms of surviving in the industry and making it big here. On the other hand, I was naïve five years ago and had my fears. And even though I had made hundreds of ads, filmmaking was new to me. But I think, more than the difficulties or struggles, it was fun to go through all that.

Today and even back then, I discuss my work with my husband. This is the biggest advantage of having a partner from the same field. Isn’t it?

Who/what inspires you to come up with women-centric stories?

In our culture, we watch and learn from our parents unlike in the West where parents actually sit and talk to their kids about life in general. Same was the case with me. I absorbed my parents’ behavior while growing up and consequently, imbibed the values they passed on to me and my siblings and me.

What I mean here is that both my parents are responsible for shaping me as an individual. In fact, it was my father who encouraged me to take up advertising as my summer job during the college break. Also, my parents never differentiated between their boy or girl child and so, gender-equality was the most obvious thing for all of us. I guess it is my upbringing that inspires the storyteller in me to have an open eye for burning issues and bring them up on a larger scale.

Do you get asked absurd questions during public interactions?

Oh, I was once judged by the media for the clothes I was wearing! I mean, in our world, it is the dress-sense of actors that gets judged, not of a director’s! It was bizarre to me. I strongly feel it’s time we get asked about the work on our shelves and not the clothes in our closet, for God’s sake!

What would be your advice for the young writers looking to break in? 

Write. Keep writing and stay alert when the opportunity hits you.

If you’ve got one minute to think and pitch in your new film’s idea, what would it be about?

Why would I tell you that? *laughs*

Fair enough. Alright, describe your writing desk to us!

It is an extremely neat and organized space. I like my stationary in place when I’m working. My table has a variety of pencils, plants and of course, tea! Tea is there when I am working in the morning otherwise I am totally a night owl.

As a director, how are you making sure there is no wage disparity among the performing artists?

Since I’m not the one who writes the cheques, I practice and portray equality through my work. If my work can educate a few people who eventually take charge of fighting the root causes responsible for gender-inequality, I think my work as an artist is done.

Lastly, when exhausted, what’s your way of restoring your senses?

I travel or spend time with my cats!

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