By Natalia Ningthoujam
New York-based Oscar-winning director Megan Mylan has often taken inspiration from India for her documentaries like “Smile Pinki” and “After My Garden Grows”. But she is not tired of making films on the country as she believes there are numerous stories to present to the audience.
The director of “Lost Boys of Sudan” first visited India around six years back to make the Oscar-winning documentary “Smile Pinki”, based on a five-year-old girl from Varanasi with a severe cleft lip.
“I ended up in India when I made ‘Smile Pinki’. It was such a privileged way to get to know this country. When I reached Varanasi, people were calling it a small town, but for Americans if a town has a million people, it’s not small,” Mylan told IANS in a telephonic interview during her visit to the capital.
“I got to see the ancient place, the sacredness of it. I also met wonderful educated doctors. I got to see an interesting side of India while making the film and then when we came back, I toured cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai and I got to see another side of India. There are a billion people and billion stories to tell here,” she added.
Back to the country on a multi-city tour to promote her latest project “After My Garden Grows”, she wishes she had more time in hand to be inspired again.
“I wish I had more time to meet people. We went to a radio station and I thought this could be an interesting documentary. I am always on the lookout,” said Mylan, who makes character-driven documentaries on social issues.
“After My Garden Grows”, about girl child marriages in India that tells the story of Monika, a rural Indian teenager growing food to feed her family, and the seeds of her own independence, in a tiny rooftop garden, is currently screened in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad and will be shown in theatres till Nov 20.
The movie also got support from Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, who recently hosted its special screening in Mumbai. Mylan, who has been making non-fiction films for almost two decades, thinks documentaries getting support from Bollywood stars is a good way to make it popular in the country.
“It’s incredibly powerful. Documentaries start out with the challenge of audiences remembering them as dreadfully boring films they watched in high school. But if people who have a big audience can tell their fans to give it a try, it will help,” she said.
Asked if she would like to make a fiction film with any Bollywood celebrity, she said: “I love what I do. I am not sure if I’ll be good at fiction filmmaking. But life takes you to an unexpected path. I don’t say no to anything, but it’s not the path I am aiming for. I can make documentaries for the rest of my life.”
But Mylan is impressed by the way Hindi movies are made.
“Bollywood films are incredible productions. We don’t have anything like it in the US. It’s impressive,” she said.