SVATI CHAKRAVARTY BHATKAL
Interview By: AAKANSHA SHAKHEWAR
We catch-up with Svati Chakravarty Bhatkal, a Journalist turned film director, who directed “Rubaru Roshini”. She has had an interesting career and we speak about “Rubaru Roshini” and her journey so far. Experts:
How did the thought of Rubaru Roshini bloom?
I started my Career as a journalist and I have always believed in the power of telling stories and I wanted to. I started working with Satyamev Jayate and through it we were able to tell many stories of different people on different issues and I got to meet so many new people as I was the head in field research and we experienced that stories can actually make a change in the world. After the show ended; it was a very intense period of 4 years of work. End of 2014 it was finished and I was wondering what I want to do with my life next. I was very disturbed by so much violence around and it’s not that I decided to do something about violence because there is so much violence around me but things do happen to you. In August 2015, I came across an article in Indian express that was written by Sunanda about Samundar and Avantika and I was very struck by the article. So I reached out to her and told her I love what you have written and she told me this is one of my stories that have got many responses from people. So I told her I want to meet these people and want to know more about them. She helped to get in touch with Avantika, Kia and Swamj Ji. That was the time when I realised that actually everything was true. I was very keen that I want to tell the story to the world and then I decided to make a documentary because that’s the easiest way to make the world believe the story; otherwise it’s hard to believe if it’s made with characters.
Why did you decide these three stories?
When I decided to make something on forgiveness I started doing research and I found quite a few stories that were really very impactful but there is a length in what you have to make the story and we have to do justice to the story and that’s why we can’t even make it small. These stories I felt were appropriate because they have span from 1980 and people who have lived with the loss from 1980’s to now and some from 2008 till now. These are also important events for me as a Mumbaikar; 2008 was shattering. It felt like I lost a part of myself being from Mumbai. These were really major events, like wise even in 1984, I remember feeling that as I was in college then and felt what it was like and what it meant. These stories had a journey that we could take people through and that is the reason why I selected these three stories.
You started out with Satyamev Jayate. Tell us about your journey and as it was all new for you how was the experience?
When I joined the team of Satyamev Jayate we didn’t really have a show. Aamir was offered a show by Star and so he said that he wants to make something on social issue. He and my husband are friends since childhood. My husband and I have been involved with social questions since the time we were in college. So he asked my husband if he could explore and see what can be done and Aamir didn’t want a specific format to start with, He said let’s do the research and let’s see what comes out of it. So Satya asked me why don’t you join the team as I had just quit my job and I was on the stage where I was thinking that what should I do next so I agreed to it and we had never worked together. The idea was to discuss and take the subjects that are very important for our country. I was given the topic of Female foeticide as I was the only mother in the team. I started travelling across India and it was the first time I was using camera. The footage I used to bring back was upside down and was not really in good frame but one thing I realised in the whole process is that camera is not important but the equation with the other human being. I am a person who will keep on asking questions to you about your life as I’m genuinely interested in people as I’m really curious to know. It was very beautiful as I have a daughter and a son and I’m very much an involved mother. The research on Female Foeticide for Satyamev Jayate gave me a humongous opportunity to talk to people and so many mothers. I felt like my whole life had prepared me for this role and it enriched me like anything. I felt like there is so much pain in the world but ultimately we are the ones who create it and we can be the one who mitigate it and end it. If we start hearing each other’s stories we might end up with better solutions, even if I don’t know but I can help you out of it with some better solutions and you can do the same for me and this is the way forward. Exchange of ideas and knowledge is very important and maybe we can find the solutions to the world’s problems if we can hear each other’s story with Empathy and also Camera is the least important thing that is what I learned from Satyamev Jayate.
How long did the Film take to come together?
I seriously started working on it in September 2015 and now it came out in 2019 and we have been working on it since then. Actual shooting I did over a period of 18 months but I shot for about 40-43 days but spread across 18 months because I was following the characters of my film and shooting according to their convenience and some things happened spontaneously like Kukki Ji and Avantika said they want to meet each other and that happened. Editing took time and post production did too so it’s been an ongoing process.
How much was Aamir’s involvement in the making of the Film?
Aamir was the support system of the film; to be the co-parent of the film, as a film needs a Mother and a father so I think Kiran and Aamir were the father of the film as much as I was the mother of the film and that really explains it all.
What is your take back from the Film?
I want people to take whatever they want to take from it as it’s not a prescription, it is sharing and not dominating to do something, so what you take from it is up to you.
You’ve done a variety of jobs from journalism, to publishing, to television and now to directing a film. Tell us about your journey.
I think my profession and personal life have been much interwoven and many of the choices that I have made professionally have been actually driven by my personal life. I was studying economics and I needed a job when I was in TY. There was s senior of mine who had just become a journalist so I told him I want a job and can he help me with it. So he asked to join journalism. I said ok and I started with it and right from Day 1 I fell in love with journalism. My daughter was born and I found that it was becoming very hard as I was a reporter and travelling here and there, long hours, night shifts and deadlines it was all becoming unsustainable and so I had to leave it. But I still wanted to work and create and books were a natural choice for me. My father is law owns a publishing house so I started working there and after this entire digital boom happened and I enjoy learning new things from time to time so it was very enjoyable for me to learn. I started working with TATA Interactive and they were very friendly with working mothers and they had a policy of working free lance, Part time and it worked wonderfully for me. My kids were growing up and I was able to continue to use my mind effectively and was able to learn new skill and one thing that remained constant was I was happy with what I was doing. I was never unhappy in a job like, I’m getting paid so I’ll just do the job even if I don’t really like it, it was never like that for me I was very fortunate. Satyamev Jayate came to me at a time where my kids were both grown up so suddenly I became a super full time person and after Satyamev Jayate I started “Rubaru Roshini”.
You have been into various professions. What have you enjoyed or enjoy the most?
I enjoy everything I do. I feel if you don’t enjoy doing your job then getting it done gets very difficult. For me I see outcome and the impact of the work that I do because you leave your mark on everything you do right since the time you wake up and so it’s important for me to do what I love so I would say I love everything I did and love everything I do.
Last but not the least – How did you choose “Rubaru Roshini” as the title and why?
We were looking at different types of working titles for the film and then the time came where we have to register the film and go for the censor so we had to finalise the title. So I felt like these people have come out of so much of pain but there is a light in that pain. There is a quote of Rumi “The wound is the place where the light enters you” and I felt like it was very appropriate and so I decided to Title it in English as “Where the light comes in” and Aamir loved it and He said in Hindi can we call it ‘Rubaru Roshini’ I said yes I love it. So this is how name “Rubaru Roshini” was finalised.