- Written and directed by the New York-based Suchi Talati, the film is the only Indian selection among 10 projects chosen for the Berlinale Talents Script Station program this year.
Indian actors Ali Fazal and Richa Chadha have recently turned producers with the launch of Named Pushing Buttons Studios, which aims to tell stories rooted in the Indian ethos for a global audience. It’s first production is “Girls Will Be Girls,” the only Indian selection of the 10 projects chosen for the Berlinale Talents Script Station program this year. The script has also been selected for the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film Lab, and it won a New York State Council of the Arts Grant for development.
Written and to be directed by Indian American filmmaker Shuchi Talati, “Girls Will Be Girls” is set in an elite boarding school in a small Himalayan hill town in northern India and follows the story of a 16-year-old girl, whose rebellious coming-of-age is hijacked by her mother who never got to come-of-age. “I like my work to challenge dominant narratives around gender, sexuality, and the Indian identity,” Talati told Variety.
Talati and Chadha had first presented the project at the 2018 Film Bazaar in Goa, where the India-based company Crawling boarded the project there. Variety says Crawling Angel’s Sanjay Gulati and Pooja Chauhan and Dolce Vita’s Claire Chassagne will produce “Girls Will Be Girls” alongside Chadha and Fazal. Dolce Vita has previously produced Partho Sen Gupta’s “Sunrise’ in India” which played at Busan and Tribeca Film Festivals.
“The world that Shuchi has created is relatable, often cruel but never hopeless or nihilistic,” Chadha told Variety. “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,” she adds.
“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,” says Fazal. “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 humor and love.”
Talati and Chadha have been longtime collaborators. They co-directed a documentary about adults living with autism and Down’s syndrome while they were students at Sophia College in Mumbai as an assignment. The two remained close friends and often talked about making films together. “In my opinion, Shuchi is an amazing voice and I’ve been following her evolution for years, knowing that one day an incandescent film would be born from her brain,” Chadha told Bollywood Hungama. “She is definitely a filmmaker to watch out for.”
Talati’s most recent short film, “A Period Piece,” about an afternoon of period sex, was selected for SXSW 2020. Her previous film, “Mae and Ash,” about a tense open relationship, won numerous awards before becoming a Vimeo Staff Pick. She is also a writer / producer for documentaries. Recent credits include “We Are: Brooklyn Saints “for Netflix, and Wyatt Cenac’s “Problem Areas” for HBO, which interrogated policing in communities of color. One of Talati’s episodes was nominated for a GLAAD award. A graduate of the American Film Institute, Talati lives and works in New York City where she co-chairs the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective.
Fazal has been the lead in the Hollywood film “Victoria and Abdul” alongside Dame Judi Dench. He will be next seen in Kenneth Branagh’s magnum opus “Death on the Nile” later this year. HChadha too has travelled with her films to Cannes and been on the jury of international film festivals at Marrakech and Nara, Japan. She is known for her role in films like “Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!,” “Gangs of Wasseypur,” “Fukrey,” “Masaan,” and “Panga” among several others.