I believe in the beauty of the feminine form: Anu Vaidyanathan - Hindustan Times

I believe in the beauty of the feminine form: Anu Vaidyanathan

ByAayushi Parekh
Feb 10, 2023 07:34 PM IST

The author, comic and the first Indian to complete the Ironman Triathlon is all set for her filmmaking debut

Anu Vaidyanathan is known to don many hats — first Indian to complete the Ironman Triathlon (in 2006) stand-up comic, author and now a feature filmmaker.

Anu Vaidyanathan, one of India’s first triathlete is all set for her feature filmmaking debut
Anu Vaidyanathan, one of India’s first triathlete is all set for her feature filmmaking debut

“My memoir Anywhere But Home made it to the longlist of Mumbai Film Festival’s inaugural Word-to-Screen Market. I was clueless about adaptations at the time and when the first offer came in from a major Bollywood studio, I was in Seattle, riding my bike, and thought it was a prank call. What followed was reading Aristotle’s Poetics and enrolling for every film school class I could manage to get to, through my second pregnancy, volunteering at a major studio in Mumbai to learning the ropes and ensuring my husband’s rasam game was on point due to my extended absences. I knew very early on that while writing is my strength, film is really a director’s medium, so there was no looking back.”

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The 39-year-old is really looking forward to her films. “I am taking two feature scripts to the market this year. One is a bilingual film in Tamil and English — a satirical thriller with a bit of action. The protagonist is a woman who is a complete badass. It’s an independent film, so I am sure it will be a huge task to raise money for the action,” Vaidyanathan says, adding that she believes in the “beauty of the feminine form”. “No frame seems as complete without it. I’m excited about how this script will shape up and the movie we make from it. The goal is to make the most technically competent film I can with the budget we manage to raise,” she shares.

This first project has been full of learnings for the new filmmaker. “Independent filmmaking is paved with disappointments mostly because the language of money has to be a two-way road, which it often isn’t. It is both the best and the worst time to be a filmmaker. Competence doesn’t seem to be the keyword as much as struggle, which seems a very weird benchmark to hold someone to,” she says.

For the kind of passion she has for the art, it is surprising to learn that Vaidyanathan, who holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering, had no plans of being a filmmaker. “I don’t think filmmaking was ever on my list. I just knew a good film when I watched one. But the longer I play around with filmmaking, the more I discover my long-standing inspirations — the power of spoken and visual language, and filmmakers such as K Balachander, Mani Ratnam and SS Rajamouli.”

Vaidyanathan derives just as much inspiration from women in contemporary cinema. “It has taken a long while to establish who my collaborators are, who will walk the talk and enable me rather than mansplain. I’m glad to be working in the same era as the (filmmakers) Revathis and Reema Kagtis of the world,” she says.

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