Features & Opinion

NFDC Screenwriters’ Lab: Deepti Datt’s DEAR MIRA

By Nandita Dutta • Published on September 5, 2011

[A]s Venice International Film Festival began on Wednesday, DearCinema profiles for you the six screenwriters who will participate in the NFDC Screenwriter’s Lab during the festival.

Screenwriter’s Lab, a 2-part workshop is conducted by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) for the purpose of writing and selling original Indian screenplays in the international market. The workshop at Venice will be conducted by Marten Rabarts, Artistic Director, Binger Filmlab.

In the sixth of the series, Deepti Datt answers five questions about her project Dear Mira:

Could you tell us more about your story?

Rollicking through the insider-culture of iconic times in recent decades, Dear Mira is a dark-comedy about a young Indian girl, Roshni, and her mission to meet film director Mira Nair, while negotiating the minefield of her hilariously dysfunctional family across India and North America. A major part of the story is set in LA, the City of Angels as a central character in the story.

At what stage of development is it?

Packaging on the project is almost complete (including some above-the-line elements) – and we are seeking closing financing.

Is a director/producer attached with the project? Or you plan to direct it yourself?

Director Ash Baron Cohen is attached to the project.

From the concept stage of this project, I’ve had Ash Baron Cohen in mind to direct.  Dear Mira moves across many new areas, visuals and settings, which are yet to become common in mainstream world cinema, and will require a strong and confident vision from the Director to pull together into an aesthetic whole.  Ash is known for his strength in working with child actors (LITTLE WARRIORS, PUPS), and pulling authentic, emotionally honest performances from his female protagonists (BANG, THIS GIRL’S LIFE) – both are integral elements of Dear Mira.

I’ve known Ash, as a friend, since the ‘90’s in LA, and watched his work as a film-maker move from innovation to strength – he has actually lived through many aspects of this story, and will bring a deft, balancing ‘geometry’, if you will, to a film that can be highly emotional (read ‘Indian’ :-)) in pitch.  Ash’s unique take on humor, a rare ability to see the absurd without compromising integrity of the tragic, is prime rational for him to direct Dear Mira.

What are your expectations from Screenwriter’s Lab?

The NFDC Binger Screenwriters’ Lab would equip me to achieve my fullest potential in developing a story that will resonate with a larger audience in India and internationally.  Edgy and alternative Dear Mira yet speaks a “coming of age” theme that could be powerfully universal. I believe the Screenwriters’ lab would enable me with the tools necessary to evolve my story into a highly viable global film project.

Tell us about your background.

Between Los Angeles and India, I have worked in every aspect of media, writing, producing, directing and in front of the camera.  Grateful for the kind of opportunities my career has allowed me, I’ve been part of the set-up teams for the India launch of Channel V & MTV; produced both Elite and Ford Models India entres; produced, concept to execution, the launch event for Vogue magazine’s entre into India, including co-curating a beautiful retrospective photo exhibit from Vogue magazines’ global archive of images shot in India; most recently, I’ve produced Naomi Campbel’s Fashion for Relief fund-raising event at IMG’s Fashion Week in Bombay. Writing is something I’ve engaged with as far back as I can remember, including published pieces in various magazines, online sites and a children’s book.  Exposure to a rich and diverse set of experiences has been a conscious personal and professional choice, so when I write, it is with authenticity.  Dear Mira is my first feature film script – and one of at least six story-ideas I am in the process of developing.

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One Response to “NFDC Screenwriters’ Lab: Deepti Datt’s DEAR MIRA”

  1. Manjeet Singh says:

    Hi. I am Manjeet, and I need to know that (kya ye zaruri hai ki children film ek accha sa msg de like movie I am kalam’) and 2nd question is. Why did you write ‘Dear Mira’ to empress her or what. I hope I’ll get your reply soon. Thanks. Manjeet. +91-9819782007.

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