Meet the SHEROES - Deepti Kakkar
Tell us more about yourself
I was born in Delhi and went to school (Convent of Jesus and Mary) and college (St. Stephen’s, History) there. My home is in Ghaziabad, UP.
I left for my MA in Global Studies when I was 21. I studied at the University of Leipzig in Germany for a year, and then the University of Vienna for another. I wrote my MA thesis in Microfinance and was working in the development sector before filmmaking came about.
The first film I had ever worked on is a short called Love’s Fine Wit. Fahad Mustafa (co-director on Katiyabaaz) directed it, while I mostly minded a most troublesome dog, called Bono.
I then produced and contributed to the script of Fahad’s first directorial feature, a documentary called FC Chechnya. We premiered in Vienna at the This Human World Film Festival and won the audience award for Best Film. We took our 2000 euro prize money and flew back to India the next month, to start working on Katiyabaaz.
What was the inspiration behind Katiyabaaz?
The film was meant to be about the city of Kanpur, and the quirky ghetto Chamanganj, where Fahad was born. He had visited several times while studying in college in Delhi and had us riveted to the crazy stories from this neighbourhood.
We spent some time on the ground trying to piece together a narrative to do justice to all the complexities of Kanpur’s descent into chaos, after once being known as the Manchester of the East, but it wasn’t until later that we decided to focus on electricity. It was becoming increasingly evident that the lack of electricity dominated people’s lives and routines – when to switch on the pump, when to run machines in factories, when to eat, sleep, study. As our story pivoted towards bijli as the core theme, and it was christened Powerless. Of course, at the time this seemed like a very clever double entendre. Katiyabaaz was born once we met Loha Singh, one of the two main protagonists of the film.
What is the message you want to convey with the movie?
We weren’t trying to send out a particular message or to preach. We were trying simply to tell a story and to document what we found. But we would like the audiences to take home a couple of things ..
That towns like Kanpur and Ghaziabad, that are often relegated to the status of Tier 2, Tier 3 cities and abandoned to their fates, were once bustling and proud hubs of industry. The fact that everyone deserves to live a life of dignity and have equal opportunities for a better future in this country and should not miss out for want of basics like – bijli, sadak, paani.
And of course, to think and talk about the tremendous proportions of the invisible crisis of electricity - there are 40 crore Indians that live without electricity – a staggering one third of the country. This is not something that makes it to popular news reportage, nor elicits much civil society action. I think at the core of the film we would like our audiences to think about the divides between the Have’s and Have Not’s of this country.
The movie has been very well received at international forums, what are your expectations in India?
We hope people will love it and make it their own!
What next from you?
I’m in the middle of a Master’s degree in Public Policy at Columbia University. I’ll be done in a year and be ready to start on the next adventure, wherever that may be.
An advice you'd give to all SHEROES out there.
Have very high expectations of yourself, pursue every dream and challenge, and never let “because you’re a girl” be reason not to.