After the massive ovation accorded to her latest film Gully Boy, Zoya Akhtar is in a great space. But the director is conscious about the helping hands that believed in the film and its subject. She says, “I am very lucky to have producers like Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar. They let me make whatever I want to. I wonder what other producers in their place would have said if I had gone to say, ‘I want to make a film about a hip-hop singer from Dharavi.’”
When asked what inspired her to make a film about hip hop music, the director says that she was a fan of hip hop music herself. “I discovered the throbbing desi hip-hop culture. I had to interact with the Mumbai hip-hop musicians. Gully Boy reflects their struggle. I started exploring their world, their lives, their trials and tribulations,” she shares.
Though Gully Boy had quite a few Muslim characters, the film eschewed all stereotypes when it came to portraying the community. But the director feels that our films still have a long way to go when it comes to representation. She rues, “No community or culture is normalized in mainstream Hindi cinema. I don’t think the characters are always written well. They caricature women, men, homosexuals, disabled people… It’s across the board. It is not about a particular community or gender.”
Zoya says that in the future too, she hopes to make films that transcend the barriers of caste and creed, because for her, it’s the story that matters. “Tomorrow I may decide to make a film about a Mexican family. I wouldn’t be bothered with which strata of society they belong to. I want to able to seek the humanity of my characters. I want to transcend the barriers of class and creed. The filmmakers that I admire are those who address themselves to the human spirit. As a storyteller, I want to be able to make every kind of film,” she says....