Nandita Das

Vihaan, a new beginning!

  • April 17, 2023

Before this beginning, it was another time, another perspective. I remember when the journos would ask me to describe myself in a one word sound byte, I would end up giving a long meandering answer. ‘’I am restless, interested in many different things, comfortable with being a jack of some trades and master of none, workaholic by choice, free spirited, love travelling, nomad at heart, citizen of the world” etc. etc. But now I can describe myself in one word – blissful! The long version is that I am happily homebound, focused on one little being, much more centered and thoughtful and miss little else.

It all changed on 11th August in 2009, when I met my life partner Subodh and then again on the same day in 2010 when Vihaan was born. Having a baby has turned my life on its head. While I still disagree with the oft repeated generalisation that a woman is incomplete without becoming a mother and while I continue to champion individual choices over social pressures, personally this has been a life altering experience.

Truly, growing with my little one is the most amazing experience of my life. Now it is so easy to “live in the moment” and no two moments are ever the same. A naughty smile, gurgling laughter, cooing and screaming, rolling over and looking around, struggling to hold little things, clutching my finger to never let it go…it is all new and ever changing. And I am told this is just the beginning!

If mothers reading this are wondering, “but what about the endless feeds, nappy changes, crying for reasons one struggles to decipher and above all, the sleep deprived existence? In fact these are challenges that have been underplayed even by mothers, lest they are seen complaining about the miracle that they have brought into this world. Life changes not just because of all the joys but also because of all these difficulties. At times it does seem like there is nothing else I think, do and feel other than what concerns Vihaan, but it all seems worth it.

Had it been only about the overwhelming emotions that I feel as a mother, I would say there are chances it might wear off with time. But there is much more to this experience. Having a baby has pushed my boundaries beyond imagination. The birth of a child is also the birth of a parent. Knowing that I will play a large part in making my child who he is going to be, is an enormous responsibility. So the work on the self must begin the minute the baby is thought of. After all a lifetime’s wiring is to be examined and rewired wherever necessary. This journey of making oneself a more honest and better human being is an ongoing one, but to know that the journey has begun, is comforting.

My little one is now all of 6 months, and I already have new thoughts everyday. Not to mention the uncomfortable questions he will ask me. Why do so many children live on the streets, when there are so many buildings with so much space? Why doesn’t our house help eat with us on the table? Why there are no marks for drawing and playing, but for science and maths? Why saying thank you and sorry at home is not as important as it is outside? Why does the teacher always say the sky is blue when it is also yellow, orange or gray? The list of questions is going to be endless and so is the journey of finding the answers. I am embracing this, with full conviction, that more than him, I will grow with every honest answer I seek and give.

Now there will always be the thought of another being as I no more exist in isolation. And for that I am happy. I mean ‘we’ are happy!

I, like everybody, have a bank of experiences that has made me who I am, with all its good and bad, but it’s difficult to say which of them have been life-altering experiences. So many incidents and encounters that seem small in the moment, at times acquire significance and a larger meaning when seen later. I find this fascinating and at a subliminal level I try not to undermine any experience. In the last couple of years, the journey of making Firaaq and taking it to audiences around the world has meant many things to me. It has been the most challenging, stressful, exciting, consuming….almost every word in the dictionary that expresses an emotion would be applicable. Apart from all that I learnt about film-making, politics of marketing, the many facets of human psyche, at a personal level, above all, I have got to know my own self so much better. I found the journey spiritual at times. It may sound esoteric to say that, but the constant tussle between deep attachment to one’s creation and struggle, and the detachment from its outcome as everything in the larger scheme of things seemed so insignificant, was intense. At times I would find myself weaker than I thought I was and at times surprisingly stronger than I had ever been.

The significance of this experience also is bigger than most others as it was not just one, but a medley of many diverse experiences. It entailed dealing with a range of people, some who I would have normally never encountered, traveling to parts of the world that I would not have had an opportunity to go and performing a wide variety of tasks I thought were beyond my capabilities. Sometimes I feel if I wrote a book on the journey from the beginning to the end, it would not only be cathartic but could also read like a ‘Dummies guide on dealing with impossibilities’! Maybe I will do it someday.

While it is empowering to be able to tell the story you so want to tell, the challenges faced are so daunting that I am tending to procrastinate before I start my next film. But this time round I don’t need to repeat the mistakes made previously, maybe new ones! I will do my best to make the journey far more pleasurable and far less stressful. But as film-making is not a sum total of its parts and is more of an alchemy, the uncertainties and the excitement remain.

As I write this, memories flood back and the pleasant ones are reason enough to go on. Thankfully I wear many hats, so I don’t feel like a director in waiting. In fact I feel it is important to live a little, have other experiences and let a story germinate organically. There is no dearth of it- as many lives, that many stories. But like all things in life, there is a time for everything and I feel that time has come!

Virata Parvam


Director: Udugula Venu

Language: Telugu

Character Name: Shakuntala

Key Cast: Kundan Alexzed, Chakrapani Ananda, Banerjee

Feastivals and Awards: NA

Film Stills: 9

BTS: 11