Arjunn Dutta's film Shrimati refuses to equate women's emancipation with financial independence

The film, starring Swastika Mukherjee in the lead, releases today
Arjunn with Swastika during filming of Shrimati
Arjunn with Swastika during filming of Shrimati

Young filmmaker Arjunn Dutta has always been an emotional person who doesn't believe in making calculated decisions. When a majority of cinema is glorifying and validating women’s emancipation by almost always equating the same with economic liberation, Arjun chooses to adopt a different approach and tells a story of a very happy housewife seeking her own identity in the things she likes. That’s the crux of Shrimati, Arjunn’s third movie, starring actress Swastika Mukherjee, which released in theatres today.

“My mum has been a homemaker and was never financially independent but that didn't make her any less empowered. She always had a say in important household decisions and I personally feel, everyone will relate to this. Being empowered doesn't always imply financial independence. At the end of the day accepting oneself the way he or she is and doing things which one wants to, be it going out or staying indoors and taking care of the family, is what defines true empowerment. Shrimati is an ode to my mum and granny and to all the homemakers out there trying so hard every single day to make our lives better.,” tell the young director, whose debut film Abyakto has picked up laurels across the global festivals.

<em>Swastika Mukherjee in Shrimati</em>
Swastika Mukherjee in Shrimati

Incidentally, Shrimati, a deeply personal film for Arjun, was supposed to be his debut film and Swastika Mukherjee was always his first choice to play the lead. In fact, he finds Swastika to be a lot like Shrimati in real life. “She's spontaneous and an extremely emotional actor. She has delivered an amazing performance despite the immense personal crisis she was going through at the time of the film’s shooting. During that time, she lost her father, but she ensured it didn't affect the filming process,” he recalls.

We dive deep into Arjunn’s mind to find out more. Excerpts:

Do you think Shrimati will appeal to all kinds of women?

Shrimati deals with a lot of issues which are pertinent to our society in an extremely positive manner. It will surely touch many hearts and make both men and women ponder over some very relatable situations.

All your movies so far tell tales through a female gaze. Will we see you exploring different perspectives?

I love to tell human stories and it’s just incidental that all my films so far, including Abyakto and Guldasta, see things from a woman's point of view. But the films also had very strong male characters. In Shrimati too, the protagonist’s husband, played by actor Soham Chakraborty, has a crucial roleplay. Having said that, I do want to make films which will have male perspectives.

<em>Swastika with costar Soham in Shrimati</em>
Swastika with costar Soham in Shrimati

Tell us about your short, Biryani, in the Hindi food anthology Three Course Meal? How was it working with Paoli Dam?

I've tried to do something experimental for the very first time. It's a dark thriller set around food. My story has a layered and unusual twist in the end.

Paoli is a wonderful human being and extremely meticulous as an actor. We had palpable director-actor chemistry which will surely get reflected on the screen.

Any upcoming projects?

I've just signed a film where I'm again going to shift my style but definitely keep my sensibilities intact.

Shrimati is in theatres now

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