An ode to life
After making her debut four years ago, filmmaker Gauri Shinde returns with a feel-good saga
The audience cheered for a lovable homemaker as she struggled with the English language in filmmaker Gauri Shinde’s directorial debut English Vinglish (2012). The film saw actor Sridevi return to the big screen. Four years later, Shinde returns with Dear Zindagi, a film with a bigger star cast and more expectations, but the two films share the same overarching theme: an exploration of small joys and struggles of everyday life.
The ad filmmaker-cum-director’s debut movie was lauded for its timid female protagonist who transforms into a feisty independent woman as the story progresses. Later, Shinde’s television commercial for Tanishq created a buzz for highlighting a woman’s remarriage. But Alia Bhatt’s character in Dear Zindagi transcends the confines of gender. “Her character could easily be a male character,” says Shinde, who doesn’t want to restrict herself to female narratives. “There are just three genders in the world. My lead is bound to be one of them,” she adds.
From script to screen
Inspired by her keen observation of human behaviour and travel tales, Shinde started writing Dear Zindagi in New York. “I scrapped another script I was working on and began this one.” After writing at a stretch for nearly five months, she presented the script to her husband, filmmaker R. Balki, for feedback. “He found it really different and refreshing,” she recalls.
After receiving a favourable response from her husband, Shinde began the hunt for her perfect leads. The filmmaker says she doesn’t envision her actors while writing the script. “But I was fortunate enough to have my first choices agreeing to act in the film,” she says, adding that both Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan came on board almost immediately after reading the script.
The film was shot swiftly, in a span of 52 days, across Goa, Mumbai and Singapore. “I am very proud of my team. I handpicked all of them myself,” grins Shinde.
Keeping it under wraps
Trying out an unconventional promotional strategy, Shinde hasn’t released a trailer of the film, but has instead chosen to put out four snippets from the movie. The filmmaker is unwilling to divulge any more information than what can be seen in the four teasers. “I want the audience to discover the story in the theatre.”
But won’t that be at the risk of revealing too little? “That’s a warped mechanism to market a film,” she says promptly, adding that her intention is to change the way filmmakers market their projects.
As the name suggests, for Shinde, Dear Zindagi is her tribute to everyday life. For the filmmaker, the true success of her film stands in the audience leaving the theatre in a blissful and thankful mood.