It hasn’t been easy for Tannishtha Chatterjee to make her directorial debut, and that too with a film shot almost entirely in Rome.
How she managed to shoot Roam Rome Mein in one of the most expensive city is a mystery. “I can’t tell you how tough it was. We were a tightly knit team of dedicated soldiers, and we were all on war-footing. Everyone was doing everything on location. I was not just the director, I was also the handy girl, handling every problem whether practical or emotional. I’ve come back very experienced and very exhausted from Rome,” the director reveals with a sigh.
Tannishtha, known for her powerful acting performances in Brick Lane, Dekh Indian Circus and Gulaab Gang, says she was very sure her directorial debut had to be shot in Rome. “Italy has an ancient history of fierce patriarchy. In the past, women in Italy were not allowed to own expensive possessions. I wanted to locate my film in a society even more patriarchal than ours, and one where women have a long history of protesting and winning over the system,” she explains.
The director further says that Roam Rome Mein is a feminist film and she is more than happy to have Nawazuddin Siddiqui on board. “We play siblings. Roam Rome Mein is a story of a brother searching for his sister. The film also has six very powerful Italian actors, including legendary names like Valentina Corti and Urbano Barberini. They agreed to come on board without bothering about their fees. They insisted on reading their lines for me. They felt that since this was my first film, I should be absolutely sure about my actors. I was moved and encouraged by their humility and dedication,” she smiles.
Tannishtha sees her film as a labour of love. “Everyone co-operated, and only then could the film be made. I still don’t believe I actually managed to shoot in one of the most expensive cities in the world at such a shoestring budget. It isn’t short of a miracle,” she laughs.
The film is already being hailed as a significant directorial debut. Tannishtha says: “It was shown at the Busan International Film Festival and at the International Rome Film Festival. We got a really positive reaction to the film at both the venues.”