Aparna Sen’s film ‘Iti Mrinalini’ to flag off Florence festival

Florence, Dec 2 (Calcutta Tube) A red carpet reception awaits Bengali filmmaker-actress Aparna Sen in Italy where her latest venture, ‘Iti Mrinalini’, will flag off the River to River film festival here Friday. Sen has made many women-oriented films, but says she doesn’t like to divide the world on the basis of gender.

‘I do not like to divide the world on the basis of gender. Both men and women have a place in this life of ours and together they complete it!’ Sen, who will attend River to River, Italy’s only festival of Indian cinema, in Florence, told IANS in an e-mail interview.

Sen will be in Florence to discuss her work, including ‘The Japanese Wife’, which closes the festival on Dec 9. ‘Mr and Mrs. Iyer’ is part of a special programme showcasing all the films that have won awards in the past at the same festival, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

She has had a weakness for River to River ever since ‘Mr and Mrs. Iyer’ won the audience award here, she says.

Sen, who has made many films like ’36 Chowringhee Lane’ and ‘Paroma’ that probe the soul of women, feels that most men she has met in her life have been emotionally less mature than the women she knows even if some of these men have remained stimulating intellectual companions.

‘Being a woman myself, it is natural that I have a keen understanding of women and how they function, but that is not to say that all my films will be about women! The subject of my next film has not yet been decided. It may not be about women specifically, but it will certainly be about human beings!’ says Sen.

‘This is my first visit to Florence and I will be in the beautiful city with my husband. I look forward to sightseeing together with him,’ Sen says.

‘Iti Mrinalani’ is about Mrinalini, an actress. But it is not a film based on the real life story of Sen although she does play the older years of the same character while Konkona, her daughter, plays the younger years.

This is not the first time Konkona has starred in a film directed by her mother. Konkona’s acting career soared after the release of ‘Mr. and Mrs. Iyer’ made by Sen in 2001. She also starred in Sen’s film ’15 Park Avenue’.

Sen cast Konkona because of the many similarities between them.

‘Apart from a familial resemblance, our voices and our body language are very similar and at a fleeting glance, Konkona often looks like me when I was her age. All this made me feel that casting Konkana will work well for ‘Iti Mrinalini’. Konkona and I work well together, not because we are related, but because our sensibilities and our aesthetics match so closely,’ Sen says.

However, directing the daughter was one thing while acting in the same film with her was quite another experience for Sen.

‘Konkona is a director’s delight! She has tremendous screen presence and it is not easy to share screen space with her as you can’t look at anyone else if Konkona is in the frame!

‘Fortunately, I did not have to share screen space with her in ‘Iti Mrinalini’ as we play the same character and are therefore never in the same frame together. Even so, there are bound to be comparisons and I am afraid I will come nowhere near her as an actor,’ says the proud mother, adding she is essentially a filmmaker and prefers direction to acting while Konkona is, at least up to now, essentially an actor.

Part of the great Bengali bonanza in Florence this December is a retrospective of Satyajit Ray, including ‘Jalsaghar’, ‘Charulata’, ‘Aranyer Din Ratri’ and ‘Shatranj ke Khilari’.

There is an exhibition of rare photographs of Ray shot by Nemai Ghosh, famous today as the master filmmaker’s Boswell.

The screening of three of her films at the same venue as the Ray exhibition makes the Florence trip special for Sen for more than one reason. She recalls that she made her debut as an actress in 1961 with master director Ray’s ‘Teen Kanya’.

‘And it is no secret that Ray is my filmmaking guru,’ Sen adds.

(Mehru Jaffer can be contacted at mehrujaffer@yahoo.com )

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