'Roam Rome Mein' about men coming face-to-face with patriarchy: Tannishtha Chatterjee
Actor Tannishtha Chatterjee says she did not want "Roam Rome Mein", her directorial debut, to be an obvious film about a brother searching for his missing sister and decided to add a touch of surrealism to the story. The film revolves around Reena, played by Tannishtha, who goes to Rome to find her freedom from strict patriarchal father. When she goes missing, her brother Raj (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), undergoes his journey of awakening as he goes to find her and learns about Reena’s life as well as his own.
The actor said the germ of the idea came from her own experience when she was in Rome. "I went to a money exchange place and there was an old man who invited me home. It was a very weird dinner and at 9.30 pm, he looked at me and said 'it's time for you to leave!' He gave me a total lowdown on the history of feminism, Renaissance, Italy, Venice. Ten days later, when I went back to the place, I couldn't find it. The shopkeeper next to it told me that for hundreds of years there was nothing but a wall!
"Till date I don't know what that was. My father says I was hallucinating, I might've made a mistake. But I am sure I went back there and I couldn't find it, I just saw a wall," she said. In an interview with PTI, the director said she narrated this story to Nawazuddin, who was working with her in "Lion", and he encouraged her to build up on the premise.
Tannishtha said she eventually found the crux of the story, of a girl rebelling and men coming face-to-face with patriarchy, and decided to add elements of surrealism to the narrative. "Unless I went a little surreal, I couldn't get into the psychological aspect of the character. That was my main idea. It's not a search film because that's an obvious layer. It's mainly how he's feeling, his regret, his desire to change.
"He doesn't know what to believe, what's deja vu, what's real and what's a dream. It's the trouble he's going through," she added. Tannishtha's film premiered at the JIO MAMI Mumbai 21st Mumbai Film Festival with Star.
The actor said they had to advance the shooting of the film, which meant going with the version that was in her head and not on the paper. "The writing had to just come out as much as it did. When I was doing my location hunting some amount of clarity came there but a lot of the film was in my head. I wanted to shoot the film in the summer of Rome. It's so beautiful but nothing is affecting the character. I didn't want cold, winter, which could've gone with the rhythm but I wanted to play against that. He's not seeing any of the beauty and Rome is just passing by."
Tannishtha believes that as an artiste, it's her responsibility to tell progressive stories and that needs to reflect in pop culture. "I kept the protagonist of my film a man because I wanted to trouble him and make him feel from inside. He's also an image of that patriarchy. I wanted to do that so it's more internalised. It's not from an external point of view that 'oh this girl went through that and I pity her.' Here's a total sense of regret and loss," she added.
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