Acclaimed actor Tannishtha Chatterjee whose credits include “Brick Lane,” “Anna Karenina,” “Lion,” and “Parched,” makes her directorial debut with “Roam Rome Mein.” The film had its premiere at Busan’s ‘A Window on Asian Cinema’ strand.
In the film, an Indian man goes to Rome looking for his missing sister and in the process discovers the real her, his own deep rooted patriarchal ideas, and the reasons why his sister might have wanted to free herself from their oppressive family structure.
“There was an incident that happened in Venice a few years back when I went there for the festival,” Chatterjee told Variety. “I met an old man who told me about his missing daughter. But that experience was also kind of surreal. Till date, I am not quite sure whether it really happened or more precisely what really happened. That was the starting point of the idea.”
“Roam” stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui who has worked with Chatterjee in several films including “Lion,” “Watch Indian Circus,” and “Monsoon Shootout,” Chatterjee herself, Isha Talwar (“Article 15”) and Valentina Corti (“Un Medico in Famiglia”).
Juggling acting and directing was a challenge for Chatterjee. “That was tough,” says Chatterjee. “I wonder how many actors do that so well. They play lead parts in the film they are directing and producing sometimes. In ‘Roam Rome Mein,’ I do not have much screen time. Yet on the days I was shooting, I found it very difficult. My first AD would come and tell me, ‘hey, Tan you are in the scene tomorrow.’ And I would go “Oh , no… Can’t we do away with this run of hers?’”
Financing the film was also a challenge. “It’s always a struggle to find financing for films that don’t fit the standard brackets,” said Chatterjee. “A film which is in English, Hindi and Italian, shot in Rome, but which has a very indian story at its core. It’s neither Bollywood, which uses Rome as a tourist location, nor does it have typical visuals of India to showcase the world. It is a feminist film, but has a male protagonist. It is very real, but it has elements of surreal. How can it be easy to get finance for a film like this? It is almost a miracle that I did find money to make it. My producer Ravi Walia and Ridhima Lulla from Eros had faith in a project which does not fit any stereotypes.”
The film is a co-production of Walia’s Rising Star Entertainment, with Eros International. Eros will distribute the film worldwide.