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“Gangoobai is an amalgamation but she is very close to my grandmother”

Director Priya Krishnaswamy on her film Gangoobai and drawing inspiration from the Parsi community

Gangoobai is about an old woman who is based in Matheran and through this film, I wanted to talk about dreams, definition, a journey and what happens when the destination of the journey changes. This film is about the journey of a woman and what happens on that journey. It’s about the way we conceive our journey in life. So if I am a bai (maid), then my life is circumscribed by my circumstances but I don’t see why? How many times have you heard the story of a maid who works at an IIT firm and whose son too studies there? This film is about Gangoobai’s journey.

Her character is really fascinated by a particular kind of Parsi saree, and I know many might ask me why I chose this particular kind of saree in the film. But this is mainly because, I had edited a Parsi film way back when I came to Mumbai and I have edited the only Parsi film made in this country by the NFDC. I have grown up among the Parsis and I had a Parsi friend working with me on the script of this film. And my mother had a very deep connection with the Parsis when she was a student in Hyderabad.  So we come from a place where the Parsi community is very strong, like in Hyderabad. So all the theatre I did in Hyderabad was governed by the Parsi community.

This film is my tribute to the senior citizens of India too. And I made this film in Hindi, English and Marathi since in Matheran, a Marathi-speaking bai will speak in Marathi; in Mumbai, she will speak Hindi; and after working with elite people they also speak in English.

Arranging finance for your first film is never easy and I did tell two to three producers about this film and they all said they didn’t think it would happen. So I too took a backseat with this film. One day, I got a call from Nina Gupta of NFDC and she asked me what was happening with my film and I told her it had all come to a standstill. She then asked me about the budget of the film and I told her it would cost Rs 4-5 crore. She asked me to make the film within Rs 1.8 crore. I was in a fix but I gathered the courage to ask her if she wanted to make it? She said ‘yes’ and that’s how it happened.

The Mumbai Film Festival also served as a valuable platform to showcase my film. I am a big fan of the MFF I think it’s awesome. I attended MAMI three years ago and I was blown away by it. Infact, we had a screening of our film at the festival and the turnout was quite impressive. There were people talking among themselves about how much they liked the film and the way they were connected with the characters. This was the greatest compliment I have received for a film I have made.

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