Director goes international

The urge to make movies came to her somewhat late, but she is known now for feminism-driven scripts.

Acclaimed filmmaker, cultural thinker and script writer Sharada Ramanathan who left an enduring mark in Kollywood with her directional debut Sringaram in 2007 is now all set to go ahead with her next two mega projects, the first of which is slated for filming early next year.

The urge to make movies came to her somewhat late, but she is known now for feminism-driven scripts. Bringing in a feminine aesthetic may have seemed natural in a story on devadasis. The film held moments that made one wonder if this was done by a director making her first movie.

In her first avatar, Sharada was the nearest to a definition of a ‘culture vulture’, absorbed fully in the nuances of the performing arts of classical Carnatic music and traditional dance forms. She was involved with social and cultural movements such as SPIC MACAY and CRY. She was the State secretary and National Chairperson of SPIC-MACAY, an Indian national cultural organisation and was present during its event in Chennai recently.

She had worked with Ford Foundation, New Delhi as a consultant and programming officer, Culture and Media, before entering into filmmaking later in life. Very calm in her disposition, she described vividly about her journey in cinema and her future aspirations.

“I used to work with an international organisation in the media division. I started engaging with filmmakers. I used to work with media and culture and media included film, digital media and that is how my interest in making a film developed in the early 2000s. In the early part of the new millennium, feminism was ruling high in global thinking.

In India, the obverse of feminism may have started during the Chola period when the tradition of Devadasis was instituted. I wanted to tell the very Indian story of what used to be known as oriental, an Indian feministic story, with its own body language, its sensibility, its poise and subtlety. I started writing the script in mid-2000 and then we finished the film Sringaram and it won three national awards in 2007 and two state awards. I discovered a lot of my own sensibilities in making the film and it was an interesting experience.”

The film in which prominent actress Aditi Rao Hydari made her debut, won national awards in three categories - Saroj Khan for choreography, Madhu Ambat for cinematography and Lalgudi Jayaraman for music. She added, “I never made the film because I wanted a career in films but I made it because I felt that the subject is visually rich. I screen tested Aditi Rao Hydari and she fitted in the role. I saw her in a classical event in Chennai and I felt she would fit the role. Subsequently I made a documentary on Indian classical dance, Natyanubhava in the year 2014.”

Sharada has also worked with several independent consultancies including international organisations such as UNDP and UNESCO. The esteemed director has presently prepared a couple of scripts, one of which took two and half years to prepare and shooting will commence in 2020.

She avers, “Both my present scripts are mega international projects. One is a period film set in the past with a political subject, a true international project. Even though it is international it has an emotional connect with India. It has an international resonance. The second film will be an epic film.”

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