Professor/ Scriptwriter/ Director/ Translator


We stalked the emerging documentarian and writer Rupleena Bose—scribe of the award winning documentary ‘TO-LET’ by Overdose Films—and refused to stop following her until she told us about what makes her tick. She tried to call the police but we had already hacked her phone so she had no choice but to drink tea and talk to us. And thus, ladies and gentlemen, we’re very privileged to offer you this look inside the mind and motivations of a woman who might well be among the smartest, brightest, and visionariest people we’ve come across since, like, ever.

Transcript of Rupleena Bose interrogation.
Location: Undisclosed hotel room, Delhi
Date: 16/8/13
Time: 0400 GMT

You’re a professor/ scriptwriter/ director/ translator? WTF can’t you just pick one?

I think I am one of those really restless people, who have to constantly find things to do and new ideas to engage in. I have to have chaos in my head to find my way into anything. No but seriously, all my life I have in a weird sort of a way lived in the stories I read. So teaching literature is an extension of that, so is writing films. Mostly everything I do is to do with stories and ideas. Inhabiting other places, worlds and characters is something literature has always allowed me to do. And true there is more imbalance than balance, which I revel in.

Tell us about how you got into scriptwriting?

I actually started with doing translations for Spandan Banerjee’s earlier film ‘Chitramala’ which used a lot of music from Tagore, Bengali folk, etc. And secretly I always wanted, and still want, to basically write. However, there is a great energy to the process of filmmaking, a collective process, which drew me to it. So even while you write, which is a solitary thing, you are a part of a larger machine, which is rolling.

The other fascinating thing to discover is, of course, how writing is interpreted when it comes to filming those words and ideas. Another learning process in itself. I learn little things about writing and seeing just this way.

Tell us about To-Let?

Simply, the story is about a year in the ever-changing city of Delhi, seen through [the experiences of] a couple with six cats, a band, a single man, and the filmmaker; all of whom are constantly moving houses and trying to find a home or a stable centre—if that exists—in a world of flux.

The word TO-LET itself reflects the theme of the film, where spaces are always waiting to be inhabited and made a part of one’s life. Renting, moving, eviction, notices and landlords are all part of our everyday urban experience. I don’t think there is ever a time when anyone I know is not shifting houses or cities. This is the thought with which we began the film, however, the idea of the film is also to understand what stability or home means. It is also trying to find the city through the eyes of a tenant which in itself is something very necessary and interesting, especially in Delhi where one of the pre-occupations of a large part of the city dweller is buying property.

Tell us abut the challenges of writing a script?

Writing a documentary script is always a challenge and very exciting. You are trying to project perspective for people around yourself; characters in the story you have woven. Except they are real and the things happening around you are sometimes so mundane, but that’s where perspective becomes very important. You have to constantly believe in your perspective and the way you are seeing the people around you as characters. In a fiction the writer is in complete control, as the characters are imagined. In this case you create a story and the crisis out of the regular. So your own questions, your understanding and your perspective towards the theme make the narrative.

The film won Best Long Documentary award at the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK) 2013 and the screening at the 13th New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF)?

Screenings brought forward some very important questions through the discussions that followed after. Not just about the theme, but about the form of this film. The way it is deliberately artistic and reflective in its style. And it tries to rework the conventional documentary form in its style but at the same there is reconstruction. The other fantastic thing is when you see the film together with a bunch of disparate people and everywhere people have after the film gone into their own memories of living and moving in cities, wherever they are from.

Overdose Local? Is it a Delhi drug rehab or what?

It’s a collective which basically tries to create a forum and space for independent cinema in Delhi. It is actually sad that Delhi is not a film friendly city at all. There is no defined space or forum for independent filmmakers who are unwilling to be categorized as fiction or documentary filmmakers. Cinema is meant to take you to another world irrespective of form. With this belief Overdose Local is being imagined so filmmakers in this city can form a collective and an anthology of films can be produced from this city also.

What inspired you to direct Black Humor?

I got a film fellowship from the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT), hence I am inhabiting this new role. It is quite a challenge as the subject humor is very difficult to visualize in that sense, especially where it has to be distinguished from laughter. Yet it is an important thought in contemporary times. But I am essentially somebody more into writing and at some point have to solve the chaos to find the path to complete my fiction.

Tell us about what you’re working on?

Writing is primarily what I do and I recently finished the scripts of two fiction stories. One about a father and son against the undertone of the feudal North India set in Delhi, the other script is a contemporary adaption of three Bengali stories set in Calcutta. Besides these there is also City of Dark, an experimental fiction under production now.

Ms. Bose, we are clear. Thank you for the visionary insight. We are honored to have you in our world on the web. Till our next intersection, best of luck with all your projects, we think you’re smart and attractive and believe you’ll be bigger than Poonam Pandey one day.

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