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My aim is to engage the audience, says Nandita Das

MUMBAI: Actor-director Nandita Das today said the aim of mainstream films is to entertain people, but, for her, engaging the audience is more important.

The 48-year-old filmmaker, however, said she is not a party to the idea of using the medium of cinema to “preach” and bore the masses.

“The main aim of the mainstream Bollywood films is entertainment and it is good, but for me it is about engaging the audience and not just entertaining.

It is not necessary that I will get entertained with what other people might find entertaining.

I like a story that is engaging irrespective of the genre.

“People get involved with the story.

We laugh, cry as we have taken to it to the make-believe world.

Cinema is a part of arts.

There is magic in it and it happens sometimes and it doesn’t happen sometimes.

I would never listen to anything that is preachy and boring,” she said on the sidelines of FICCI Frames here.

Nandita, who has earlier worked with Nawazuddin Siddiqui in “Firaaq”, has teamed up with him for her second directorial venture “Manto”.

The film is a biopic on the celebrated Urdu short story writer Sa’adat Hasan Manto.

“When I was writing this film, I was thinking only about him.

There is something in Nawaz’s eyes that I felt he was apt for this role.

Every actor brings something of his or her own to the table while portraying a character and it would have been fantastic in different ways.

I think Nawaz had that Manto-ness thing in him.

“Manto had seen lot of things early in his life and even Nawaz had also struggled a lot in life.

Today, he is a star.

When you make a biopic on a person you try to get the look and mannerisms right, but that is not all.

Getting the essence of the story right is important,” she added.

Before she chose to make a film on the life story of Manto, Nandita was aware of his work and felt it was a story that needs to be told on the big screen.

“The intention was to bring out the courage of speaking the truth, a sense of conviction.

He was just a person who wanted to do things that he believed in.

All of us, in small or big ways, want to do things that we like.

So I chose Manto.

We are not trying to put him on a pedestal.

Manto was deeply sensitive, gentle and at the same time, arrogant and had a lot of anger in him.

“I think we all have that Manto thing in all of us.

Today, there is a debate or fight in the name of religion, identity or nationality.

But he had challenged the identities and went beyond religion and nationalities in his life,” she said.