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Arunima Maharshi

IWB Blogger

Director Rakhee Sandilya Talks About Why Life After Baby Does Not Come Tied With A ‘Ribbon’

  • IWB Post
  •  January 12, 2018

Sumeet Vyas aka Mikesh Chaudhary of popular web series Permanent Roommates is all set to hit the big screen along with Kalki Koechlin in a new movie titled Ribbon.

Now even if you aren’t a movie-buff, it’s certain that you have bumped into these words while scrolling through your social media. But if stirred by Kalki and Sumeet’s acting skills, and latter’s dreamy looks (ahem), then there are many to high five your excitement level!

The brainchild of award-winning documentary director, Rakhee Sandilya, Ribbon revolves around a couple and the multifold relationship hacks that parenthood greets them with. “Realistic to the core, it is a film that highlights some important issues in our society, and yet, refrains from being preachy. So real, that it can be your story,” Hindustan Times.

So if reviews are to be sworn by, Ribbon is not a film that you’d want to miss, but before you head out, don’t forget to scroll on our exclusive chat with the Director herself. (SURPRISE!)

Ribbon 

Did the premiers have you experience the fluttering of butterflies in the stomach? 

Oh, they sure did. But glad to have received positive reviews, and more than that, I am happy to see people recieving the message well. And now I am very excited about meeting the audience’  reactions, fingers crossed, she laughed.

Ribbon being your directorial debut in Bollywood; tell us about your idiosyncratic direction style?

So my process of writing a story is very organic, once I conceive the characters, I begin to explore their journey. I mean that is the process I see myself following. With regard to direction, I have studied in London, and shot several documentaries post that, and the way I saw myself evolve, I realized my inclination was towards keeping it as natural as possible. Owing to which I decided to shoot the entire film through hand-held camera (whaa!)

Ribbon

You won’t come across a single scene where the actors can be found addressing the presence of a camera. Which I believe will teleport the audience from their seats to the lives of the characters, and should add another dimension to their film-watching experience!

Aah! And where did you seek the inspiration of filming parenthood/motherhood from? 

I had long been observing my friends and colleagues, and with time, found myself particularly intrigued by this side of a married couple’s life. Though I first touched upon the idea during the making of one of my documentaries, My Baby Not Mine. But it was much later that I decided to script-write and tie it up with Ribbon.

And incidentally, one of my close friends happened to just step into motherhood around then, so observing it from closeness helped me gather a lot about the many emotions and experiences young mothers go through. 

Ribbon

Would you describe your lead couple as ‘typical’ or ‘breaking-the-mould’ kinds?

Very typical, and intentionally so. I wanted to keep every aspect of the story as real and natural as possible, hence purposely kept the existing moulds in place. You’ll find Sahana (Kalki) and Karan (Sumeet) going through all the beautiful and seemingly-ugly moments of marriage and parenthood. A lot of shit happens in their lives, and you’ll be watching it all as is, no making up! They laugh, cry, love, fight, and at the end of the day, move on, just like you and I and everyone! 

How have Kalki and Sumeet added to the nuances of Sahana and Karan’s life trajectory?

Oh, they are naturals, and I couldn’t have gotten luckier with the cast! Not real life parents, but it was a pleasure watching them take over their respective roles. Free of apprehensions, both Kalki and Sumeet dived into the research so well, that I was left with no headache.

Ribbon

And Kalki particularly, her motherly instincts are not restricted to the sphere of acting, I’ve even told her that she’d be a great mother, she laughed. I was rather impressed by the way she interacted with the mothers of infant babies whom we met during research. She’d hold those babies with such care, feed them, and sing lullabies to them. It will be a treat for the audience to watch them two fine actors imbibing the parental instincts!

Marriage followed by parenthood brings along a lot of minor yet not-so-trivial complications in a couple’s life. Is Ribbon aiming to serve any food for thought on that?

Yes, of course! The plot flows in a way that the small moments can’t go unnoticed. It is centric on the issue of the many ‘couldn’t-have-imagined-before’ changes and responsibilities that child-birth comes wrapped with. And not losing on the naturalness, I have attempted to explore both the two sides of it, the beauty and the complexes. We’re all so deeply immersed in our materialistic lives and the needs that borne out of it, and the concept of nuclear-living, which has now got further reduced to only husband-wife, that it is only adding to the complications.

Ribbon

Where living with family brings along many responsibilities, living alone leads to immense pressure on the two people, and that remains an untapped issue yet. To cue on which, imagine expecting from your partner the support and love of not just a husband/wife, but that of a friend, sister/brother, father/mother, and imagine that difficult-to-apprehend frustration which its unfulfillment can lead to!

The trailer hints on Sahana’s (Kalki) ‘I am not ready’ reaction to her pregnancy. How exactly does the plot voice these “often-muted” feelings of a woman?

It is shown how it usually happens with young couples; they start their livelihood with some plans and often take a mutual call on when they’d like to have a baby. So when Sahana, a young and ambitious Corporate Analyst, learns about her pregnancy, she freaks out as a natural reaction. And though at that time, Karan (husband) is able to calm her with the oh-so-comforting “we will manage” reassurances, it is only with time that she realizes how the managing is actually carried out.

Ribbon

Have you touched upon the issue of ‘Paternity Leave’?

Not exactly. But Sumeet plays the role of a very understanding and cooperative husband and father. He not only co-manages the responsibilities well but also supports his wife in rough times. Though through its absence, we have tried to address the issue of lack of crèche and day-care facilities in companies in India. And while that is there, the film also touches upon the typical patriarchal mindset of men. The ‘how’ is for the audience to pick in the film, she exclaimed.

And, postpartum depression?

Not to label it as postpartum depression, but Sahana faces a great deal of problems that trouble her psychologically and she does feels depressed. For instance, when she returns to work after maternity, her boss, who once treated her like the apple of his eye, behaves odd and makes her feel uncomfortable commenting about her professional commitments. And there are a lot of other instances, too, that subject her to gender discrimination.

Ribbon

Not to ask for more, but we’d love to know about the most memorable behind-the-scenes moment?

So as I shared about the film being shot via hand-held camera, there was this one sequence of scenes, which while writing I had never have imagined that it could be shot in one go. But it happened, and so smoothly, that the realization of its completion moved me to tears. Overwhelmed, I broke out, but will always cherish that moment. Then she remembered, and there was another one, where lost in my camera, I jumped-sat on a glass table and got myself injured in the great fall (she laughed off).

And that’s all from our side… See you at the theatre!

This article was first published on November 3, 2017.

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