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    Pan Nalin on spirituality, Indian cinema and Angry Indian Goddesses, the country’s first first female buddy film

    Pan Nalin knew it was time to break the stereotypes associated with female centric films. Coming up with the first Indian female buddy film, he says he has done away with the objectification of women, playing the quintessential mother or sister roles, or their struggle for respect. “I wanted to show the bonding between seven city girls in as natural a way as possible, says Nalin, who feels male bonding has had its moment in films like Delhi Belly and 3 Idiots. Starring Sandhya Mridul, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sarah-Jane Dias, Anushka Manchanda, Amrit Maghera, Rajshri Deshpande and Pavleen Gujral, Angry Indian Goddesses premieres at the Toronto film festival next week.

    Real connect
    Nalin ensured his star cast was a healthy mix of artistes and he auditioned over 200 girls from Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru for the same. “I want the audience to see themselves in some of them. Also having big stars would have led to ego issues, too, hence this decision,” laughs the 49-year-old from Gujarat who studied film design at the National Institute of Design before setting off to direct a string of short films and documentaries. He teamed with producer Gaurav Dhingra and formed Jungle Book Entertainment in Mumbai in 2013, and Angry Indian Goddesses marks their first tentative step into mainstream cinema. The film is about a photographer who invites her city friends to Goa for a bachelorette of sorts and the story explores all seven lives from there. “It took a lot of time to get the cast right, and even more time getting the girls to bond in real life, which gets translated on screen,” says Nalin.

    On spirituality
    Spirituality is a common theme that threads Nalin’s films together beginning from his feature, Samsara in 2001 (a French German Indian film) to Valley of Flowers. His next feature, which Nalin calls the first spiritual thriller in India, and is titled Beyond the Known World, talks of a separated couple’s journey for their missing daughter. The film explores real life incidents of young adults “voluntarily going missing” in the Himachal regions. Nalin is constantly inspired by life. “I talk to neighbors, travel the corners of the world to observe the way people act and react and get my ideas from there. I loved “getting lost” in the Kumbhmela (mass Hindu pilgrimage) and that’s how the documentary Faith Connections was made. I like the realism in the works of Satyajit Ray and Polanski and wanted to be Manmohan Desai as a child,” recalls Nalin. Adding that Indian cinema is not only about Bollywood, he says, “We have some beautiful regional cinema in the case of Tamil and Telugu, and fresher topics being explored like in the case of Dum Laga Ke Haisha and Masaan.” Future plans include giving rom coms and action thrillers a new twist and he has already begun scripting the same.

    Angry Indian Goddesses is scheduled to release next month.

    —Niranjana Hariharanandanan

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