National award winning actress Kangana Ranaut will play an 80-year-old character in her directorial debut, Teju. Ranaut has written the script and is also producing the film through Manikarnika Films. In two big ways, the film is set to showcase what Indian mainstream cinema has all but erased – the life of Indians in non-central regions, and the aspirations and experiences of elderly women.
Ranaut said she wanted to showcase the life and culture of Himachal Pradesh, which is largely ignored in mainstream cinema. Most films set in the region tend to exoticise the region as “beautiful,” and use the people as landscape props or stereotypes. She said, “Teju will showcase Himachali life and culture which have largely gone unexplored in our mainstream cinema as filmmakers only use my part of the country as a beautiful setting for their songs.”
She also said that playing an older woman isn’t a problem for her, because she’s “older than her years”. An elderly female protagonist who isn’t just a mother or grandmother is arguably unprecedented in Indian cinema.
She said, “The film will be about every old person I know and have loved. It will also be a lot about me as I am older than my years. She (her character) is a warm, vibrant woman, full of life, who doesn’t feel old at all.”
The film focuses on how senior citizens are ignored, but have much to live for. She said, “By the time I was a toddler, my great grandmother was in her eighties. I grew up around old people and it pains me to see senior citizens largely ignored in any community, society or country. Teju is a woman perched on the threshold of death but not yet ready to leave the world.”
Image Courtesy: Still from Simran