Maid of Honour

Priya Krishnaswamy's feature film, Gangoobai, deals with the trials, tribulations and aspirations of human beings

In 2002, when filmmaker and film editor, Priya Krishnaswamy, and her friend came up with the idea for a film on the life of a domestic help, it seemed too good to be true. Krishnaswamy, by her own admittance, says that the script for the film Gangoobai was on the back burner until 2009. That was when she heard of the NFDC's (National Film Development Corporation) Screenwriters Lab. NFDC had invited scripts from across India. In 2010, Krisnaswamy's script was one of the six scripts that was chosen among the submitted ones. Produced by NFDC, Gangoobai, which releases on Friday, was showcased at the Mumbai International Film Festival by MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Images) last year.

"The kind of work that the NFDC is doing in promoting and releasing the film is big. It is a story of people and how beautiful life really is and the simple dreams, joys and aspirations that we all have," says Krishnaswamy, a graduate of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) from the editing department. In the past, she has made 12 documentary films ranging from subjects such as Sufism, child abuse and Bhopal gas tragedy, among others.

The film revolves around the life of Gangoobai, a domestic help, portrayed by Sarita Joshi, who wants to buy an expensive sari. The quest takes her to Mumbai from the hill station of Matheran. "While we were casting the various characters in the film, Joshi's name kept coming up. It was a coincidence that I saw her work on television and spoke to her about the character. She was on board immediately. There were slight apprehensions in the beginning because she was the central character and had to carry the weight of the film, albeit delicately. But once she came in front of the camera, it was pure brilliance," says the director, adding that through the film, she has tried to show the importance of dreams. In addition to Joshi, the film stars actors Raj Zutshi, Mita Vashisth and Purab Kohli. The film is releasing in 13 theatres in Mumbai and Pune this week.

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