By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | March 08, 2019
International Women’s Day Special
Life has not been all hunky-dory for Aneeta Patel. She has had her share of downs and downs and is today riding the wave of satisfaction doing what she loves doing. There was a point in time when she wondered what really was happening around her, but she never let that pull her down, thanks to her supportive family and a close ‘friend’ who showed her the true meaning of life. And she saw how beautiful life was when this ‘friend’ helped her knock off the extra pounds she had accumulated, got her back on track to focus on her work down south and also engage in various activities to enhance her skills.
Today, what you see of Aneeta is a beautiful transformation; a winner who has worked her way to where she is. A fighter, who did not stop at failure! Many will remember Aneeta as the girl who starred in the hit South film ‘Girlfriend’ directed by G Nagesh Reddy. She also acted in ‘Abbay Premlo Padaddu’, another film that ran successfully in the South. She then took a break, “as I wanted to do a few advertisements and finish off a few creative things I had begun,” she reveals. This turned into a longer break than what she had envisioned thanks to some nasty surprises life threw at her.
Eight years ago, when she was fighting fit and was back to working in the South, I had asked her about when she would try for roles in Bollywood. “That will happen eventually, but I first want to give this industry my best. Every top Bollywood heroine has passed off from here,” she had said then.
She did give it her best short, doing some more work down south, before enhancing her skills by joining the Barry John Acting Studio in Mumbai. So impressed was Sir Barry with her skills, that he offered her a teaching job!
Although acting was what Aneeta was keen on, she soon realised that being behind the camera was what she enjoyed most. Here is where she found her mojo. Thus was born ‘That Girl Who Makes Films’. Aneeta the creative genius was seen in full bloom. What’s exciting is to see her passionate about the people she is working with, both in front of the camera and in her technical team.
Two short films have already had the desired impact: She’s D One and The Bar. A third, The Meeting is ready for release. And what Aneeta has done as a director in a short span of 10 minutes is pure genius. She’s slick, knows her camera angles and leaves a lot to the viewer’s imagination. In short, watching her short films is not about watching a short film, it’s about being engaged and intrigued and then going back to watch it again to ensure what you derived from it is what it actually is.
Opening Doorz on International Women’s Day to celebrate the ‘never-say-die’ spirit of Aneeta Patel, the girl who wanted to be seen on screen, who is now ‘That Girl Who Makes Films’.
How did you zero in on ‘That Girl Who Makes Films’ for a name?
Being on set makes me feel like Alice in Wonderland, only difference being I’m a more composed Alice… I’m living my dream, and I wanted to keep it simple, hence the name.
When did you realise that acting should now take a back seat and working behind the camera is what you wanted?
After I finished writing my first film, I knew this was something very exciting and something new and that I wanted to do it and it has only made me more aware as an actor.
That’s just a general statement. But when you look back, at what point did you actually feel it was time to go behind the camera?
Barry Sir has a very important role in making me live my dream. He is the best mentor, teacher, friend and family that one can have. I still remember sitting with him in his office one evening after class and telling him over sevpuri that I had written something and ‘I want to make it’. I will never forget his reply: “Why not? Who’s stopping you? I always believe that if you really want to do something, you should do it. What’s the worst that can happen—that’s a question you have to ask yourself. Once you have an answer to that and if you still wish to go ahead, then there is no looking back.”
Do you feel that you could have given more in front of the camera; I mean, looking at you… you should be in the front?
I do miss acting, but being a filmmaker has taught me so much more about the craft now. Give me a role that’s food for my soul and I will give you magic.
You have made two short films: She’s D One and The Bar, both of which have bagged awards and won international recognition. How different are both films from each other?
She’s D One will give you butterflies in your stomach and The Bar will leave you surprised. They are very different and I’m thrilled with the response that I have got from viewers, both in India and abroad.
Given that you are a new to film-making, how did you manage to convince Ssharad Malhotra, who is a popular name in Indian television, to do your first film?
Ssharad means business. I remember our first meeting; he just walked in and wanted me to get on with the narration without wasting any time, and I wanted him to read the script. So he went out with the script, returned in 10 minutes and said, “I’m doing this.” So one thing was clear; he was open to working with a newcomer like me. I wrote She’s D One with him in mind, so it was a wonderful feeling when he agreed to do the film. I will always be indebted to him because he trusted my vision and brought ‘Shaurya’ to life in a way nobody else ever could.
We heard Sudhanshu Pandey (who’s played the lead in The Bar), say in one of his interviews that you are quite a task master on the set and get exactly the performance you want from your actors?
I know what I don’t want…. so it’s easy. Less is more and I love to watch the actors being subtle and underplaying it sometimes.
You have a third short film releasing sometime soon, what’s it about?
My next film is called The Meeting. It’s a film about friendship, reunions and true love that always finds its way back.
Anything else you are working on?
I’ve written a web series which is filled with fun and humour and since I play god with my pen, we have an Adam and a hell of a lot of Eves. I’m really excited and looking forward to this one.
You have been an actress too, having played the lead in a few South films. Does that help you now in your role as a filmmaker?
You’ve got to be honest in whatever you do, whether in front or behind the camera. What helps me as a filmmaker today is, of course, my team. We are a unit that goes all out to get the job done.
You have been through a lot personally, and your life is now an inspiration for those who know you well. Looking back how did you pull it all together?
I lost my father to cancer, I still remember him going into his grave, a couple of months after that life went on, I started smiling and going out again. Then a relationship that I thought was my happily ever after fell apart. Death and failure have taught me things that happiness and success never did. Now I put all the romance into my scripts and the men in my stories!
On International Women’s Day, what is the message you want to give women who are struggling for a break in this industry?
They should be working with me; an actor needs a director as much as a director needs an actor. Follow your heart, do what makes you get closer to your dream. Opinions are like ***holes. Everybody has one, so don’t waste time there!