One to One with Bhavna Talwar (Film Director)

Keith Vaz Monday 17th May 2021 13:50 EDT



Bhavna Talwar is an award-winning film director. She won the National Award for her debut film ‘Dharm’, a moving tale of the triumph of human values over divisive communal attitudes. The film also opened at the Cannes Film Festival. Her second film ‘Happi’ is a homage to Chaplin as she shines a light on the changing mores of life in the buzzing metropolis of Mumbai. Bhavna has also directed an adaptation of the children’s book Heidi, starring Bill Nighy and Mark Williams. She is currently casting for her biopic based on the life of the legendary Indian filmmaker, Guru Dutt.
Bhavna started her career as a journalist and moved to advertising before she found her true calling as a filmmaker. 


  1. Which place or country do you most feel at home? 

Over years of extensive travel, I’d find myself yearning to be back home once the euphoria of being in a new place subsided. When in Mumbai, I couldn’t wait to be back on a plane, yearning to call a new place home. I’ve come to learn that home is not located in space and time, it’s everywhere I go. I am my own home. 

2.What are your proudest achievements?  

My debut film opened at Cannes and was screened at many film festivals. It won me critical acclaim, the National Award for best film on national integration amongst others. While the awards and acclaim encourage me to continue to do the sort of work I choose to do, I believe that an achievement that I can call my proudest is yet to come. 

3. What inspires you? 

Inspiration comes to me from many quarters. It could be a work of Botticelli or Rembrandt, Gaugu in or Egon Schiele. The slant of light filtering in through a window at dusk, flowers, courage, architecture, love... I feel inspired every time I’m present in life. 

4. What has been the biggest obstacle in your career? 

Self doubt. I have always aspired perfection and seldom did any of the work that I did live up to my own expectations. Until, a very wise friend, a philosophical guide pointed out that seeking perfection in what one creates is an exercise in futility. Perfection can only be found in the very act of creating. Excellence is what us mortals can strive for. 

5. Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date? 

My husband, Sheetal. He is someone driven by the joy of success and is fearless. Nothing is a mistake for him, only a learning curve. If it wasn’t for him, my films would be sitting in my desk drawer written on sheets of paper, crippled by self-doubt. 

6. What is the best aspect of your current role? 

My films are an act of my politics. As a filmmaker I can comment and train the mirror on issues that move me. 

7. And what is the worst? 

I love making films. Despite the hard work and heartache my love for what I do is blind. I see nothing that I can term as the worst. 

8. What are your long-term goals? 

To use the power of popular cinema as an instrument for change. To draw attention to the inequities that exist in the world. I am a feminist and hope to draw attention to the myriad issues that women face and hopefully affect real change. 

9. If you were the PM, what one aspect would you change? 

The composition of the cabinet to ensure equal gender representation. 

10. If you were marooned on a desert island, which historical figure would you spend your time with and why? 

Emmeline Pankhurst and Rabindranath Tagore. To be inspired by Emmeline’s fire to continue her fight for freedom that so many of my kind still don’t have. To sit with her on the beach in the company of Tagore as he recites ‘Gitanjali’.

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