Dainty and demure female characters don't find a place in director Meghna Gulzar's films. She says her films are not always women-centric, but agrees that the female characters in her movies are stronger than those in most films.
At a time when surrogacy wasn't a trend, she brought together powerful women and actresses Sushmita Sen and Tabu to star in her 2002 film Filhaal... that dealt with the subject. Actress Alia Bhatt, who made her debut as a fashionista and the popular girl in her school in Student of the Year, is now set to stun many as a spy in Meghna's forthcoming directorial Raazi.
On making female-led films, Meghna said: ''I wouldn't say female-centric or female-led films... but yes, the female characters in my films are stronger than in most films."
"I think that also has to do with the kind of stories that I choose. I wouldn't say the same for Talvar. It was around the murder of a 14-year-old girl but the central character of the film was the investigator. So, the choices (for characters) are not gender-based but on the basis of stories that I want to tell," she added.
As a writer and a filmmaker, she believes one needs to "internalise whichever character you are telling the story of, irrespective of their gender. Again, taking the example of Talvar, the main protagonist was the male investigator from CBI. What possibly could I draw from my personal life or experiences to put into him?
"You just have to become the character that you are talking about. It doesn't matter what gender they are," she added.
As part of her association with MN+, she has selected some women-centric Hollywood films like Gone Girl and Kill Bill, for the channel. MN+'s property "Talking Films" will air these films on May 10-11 and May 17-18.
"It is wonderful to have a platform where you get to see quality films. MN+ as a channel has a very impressive catalogue of films. I don't have a time-bound strategic TV watching time. My TV viewing pattern is very erratic. Whenever I do get to watch TV and I put on MN+, there is always a good film playing, which is great," said the Just Married director.
Has she thought of adapting a Hollywood film? "No, I am happier trying to generate original content rather than remaking or adapting films at least," she said.
But the daughter of veteran lyricist and poet Gulzar and actress Raakhee likes to take the world of books to the big screen through her films like Raazi, which is based on Harinder Sikka's novel Calling Sehmat.
"The advantage of adapting a book to a film is that the story is already there for you, as opposed to having to write the story from scratch if you are creating original content. But then again, how the author has translated the events has to be manipulated because you are making a film.
"It has to go beyond the written text. Otherwise what's the point? Don't make a movie on it. Also, you have so many layers available to you when you are making a film. You have sound, visuals, characters and costumes... the advantages are far richer. So, it's important that the film that you make goes a few notches ahead of the book."
There were also reports on Meghna working on a film based on a book about the Indian Airlines Flight 814 hijack.
Clearing the air, she said: "No, I wasn't."
But she shared many reasons why the audience should watch Raazi. "First and foremost, you will see a new Alia Bhatt. I am sure she will surprise you. And above that, the story itself is an extremely powerful one. For me, what makes it special is that it is a beautiful story. So just that in itself is completely overwhelming. I hope the audience endorses and internalises the journey of Sehmat the way we all did while making the film," said Meghna.