"Talaash" director Reema Kagti terms the Hindi film industry a "very progressive place" where "working conditions for women are good", but she finds the "women directors" tag "regressive".
"The term 'women directors' is like reverse prejudice. There are places and parts of our country where it is very tough being a woman, but thankfully, I have never faced that. I had a simple upbringing. My parents always encouraged me and my two sisters," Kagti told IANS in a group interview.
"Once I started working in the film industry, I knew a lot of things were said about me. But I feel the industry is a very progressive place. The working conditions for women are good. There are many directors who are women, but the tag of women directors is a bit regressive," added Kagti.
Her first venture "Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd." (2007) was critically acclaimed and commercially successful.
After five years she is ready with her second directorial venture "Talaash", which, according to her, is not a run-of-the-mill suspense thriller and that's why it caught the fancy of Aamir Khan who plays the male lead in it.
"There was something in the story of 'Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.', which really drew me. Even in 'Talaash', I fell in love with the story. Zoya (Akhtar) and I wrote the screenplay trying to remain true to the story. We arrived at this suspense drama, which luckily caught Aamir's fancy," she said.
Kagti says even though the script was written keeping Aamir in mind, she and Zoya approached other actors too.
"While writing the script, we had Aamir in mind. When we finished the screenplay, he was busy and said he would not look at another script for a-year-and-a-half. So we did take the script around to a couple of people, but it didn't go anywhere. By that time, Aamir had finished his shoot and he was looking at scripts," she said.
Does having a star like Aamir assure Kagti of a hit even before the release of the film?
"Definitely, when you have that good actor and you make the film within a budget, then you are looking at a bright situation," she said.
The director admits she has an alternative bent of mind but declares that "Talaash" is a pure commercial movie even with its dark patches.
"I have an alternative bent of mind, but that doesn't mean that my cinema is alternative. 'Talaash' is a commercial film. It may not be out and out entertainer, but it is a commercial film. The unique thing about it is that the darker versions are not really considered stuff for commercial cinema. The challenge for Zoya and me as writers was to change this. You can deal with darker emotions and that can be as engaging as anything else," she said.
The film, also starring Rani Mukerji and Kareena Kapoor, will release Nov 30 and Kagti says her motto is to present a likeable story.
"I live by this philosophy - if I like a story, then I think someone else will too. I have a more personal and intuitive approach. I don't think anyone can make a film planning to make Rs.100 crore. If they do this the first step is only wrong and then it becomes a recipe for disaster," she said.
(Anjuri Nayar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)