Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal, one of Bollywood’s most loved couples, have recently turned to producers and started their own production house. Work on their first project has started. Ali, who has worked with Dame Judi Dench in Hollywood films like ‘Victoria and Abdul’ and also on Kenneth Branagh’s Magnum Opus Death on the Nile, he is also a member of the academy. Richa has also traveled to Cannes with her films and is on the jury of international film festivals in Marrakech and Nara, Japan.
Their new company, Pushing Buttons Studio, aims to tell stories rooted in Indian ethos to a global audience. The first script to be produced under the banner is titled Girls Will Be Girls and has been written and will be directed by Shuchi Talati. ‘Girls Will Be Girls’ is the only Indian script invited to the prestigious Berlinale Script Station 2021 – a laboratory that selects only 10 projects from around the world each year. This year it is also the only Indian project at the Jerusalem Script Lab where it will be formally presented at the Jerusalem Film Festival in July. Earlier, Ritesh Batra’s second film, Photograph also appeared in the same program.
The film is set in an elite boarding school in a small Himalayan hill town in the north of India. It follows the story of sixteen-year-old Meera, whose sexy, rebellious coming of age is hijacked by her mother, who never got to come of her age. The mother and daughter grow up through the screenplay and with their brother, but eventually their stressful but love-filled relationship is the heart of the film.
Talking about the film, Richa Chadha tells us:
The world that Shuchi has created is relatable, often cruel but never hopeless or nihilistic. Its honest awkwardness will make you chuckle, not weep. It’s full of relatable, lived-in episodes, that one finds oddly satisfying – like popping a zit. The mother in our story routinely dodges the self-sacrificing stereotype of the typical Indian mom – she’s complicated, grey, and not a martyr. The dynamic between mother and daughter is so under-explored in Indian and world cinema that the possibilities of ‘Girls Will Be Girls’ presents are very exciting.
Ali Fazal said:
This is the first time that Richa and I are collaborating on a film as producers and the experience so far has been very rewarding. This film being our first is close to our hearts. I am also excited that our studio will enter the market with such a progressive, female-led story. We hope to be able to tell thought-provoking and universal stories with humour and love
The writer and director of the film, Shuchi Talati is an Indian director based out of New York.
I like my work to challenge dominant narratives around gender, sexuality, and the Indian identity.
Talati won the prestigious New York State Council of the Arts grant (a development fund) for the script of Be Girls Will Be Girls’. Her most recent short film, ‘A Period Peace’, 2020 premiered at SXSW Film Festival in 2020. The short will be played as part of the Seattle Asian American Film Festival from March 4-9th 2021. It will also be available to stream in the US during that period.