The Indian audience has become very choosy about the films they want to watch, provoking a shift from star-driven cinema to content-driven films. This change has thus given new directors a platform and they have been coming up with some refreshing concepts. This week the spotlight is on Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, who will be making a debut in the industry with her film Nil Battey Sannata
I grew up in the Mumbai suburbs and come from a middle-class, South Indian family. Both my parents are in the teaching profession and I am the only child. I was very actively involved in the cultural arts since my childhood. From dancing to painting, I tried out almost everything. While in college, I was to prepare to become a Chartered Accountant but I realised that Book Keeping was not my cup of tea. I told my mother I couldn’t graduate with Commerce and wanted to paint instead.
She tried to tell me that painting wouldn’t pay the bills and I needed to do something specific with my life. During those days, the arts were not very popular but my mother got to know about Commercial Arts. So I entered that stream because I could continue painting and it would also help me earn a livelihood.
Entering The Ad World
I worked with Leo Burnett for 14 years and learnt everything I knew about creativity there. We used to make ad films and I worked with many directors. I was involved in making ads right from the script level to the edit, till the final product came out.
I also liked writing and kept pestering Nitesh (Tiwari), my husband, to let me write. He had written a short story, which I had directed. It was called What’s For Breakfast and the film received many awards. At that point, I realised I could tell stories. After that short film, I made ads, and a few short films for Leo Burnett. But I was still craving to write.
On Nil Battey Sannata
Nitesh had this small idea when we started working on the story. Once I finished writing it, I narrated the script to Ajay Rai, who was working on Bhoothnath Returns. He loved the script and said we should make it. I agreed and he insisted that I direct the film. Then, Aanand L Rai came on board as he loved the script. The best thing about this film is that everyone attached to it loved the script, including Dhanush, who loved it so much that he asked me to also make it in Tamil.