“Its boring to have stories of women if they dont interest everyone. Good stories should touch everyone. Humanitarian stories are far more important than just talking about gender,” says filmmaker Deepa Mehta, who has co-directed Leila, Netflix latest original series from India. The series, scheduled to start streaming worldwide on Friday, is set in a near-future world where extremely right-wing ideologies are prevalent and an oppressive regime segregates the society. The six-part series, based on Prayaag Akbars eponymous novel, follows the search of Shalini Pathak Rizwan (played by Huma Qureshi) for her daughter who was taken away from her years ago.
“The novel was picked up by Netflix soon after it came out. They looked around to see who can do justice to its adaptation as a short series and contacted my agent in Los Angeles,” recalls Mehta, also the creative executive producer of the series. Meanwhile, the video streaming platform asked some people to submit their ideas regarding turning it into a series. “For a series, you have to expand the story — create different characters, situations and yet retain the books philosophy,” she says.
Screenwriter Urmi Juvekar wrote the show bible, which is like a precis on what can be done. Mehta read the novel as well as Juvekars bible, and was intrigued by both. Netflix asked the 68-year-old filmmaker, known for directing Fire (1996), Earth (1998) and Midnights Children (2012), to direct its first two episodes. “This was interesting since I got to set the tone for the series. What is great is that I was an integral part of the casting. For me, thats extremely important. I fell in love with Huma and the rest is history,” says Mehta, as she along with Qureshi talk about the shows process. Apart from Qureshi, the cast of Leila includes Seema Biswas, Rahul Khanna and Siddharth.
Qureshi joined the project much later. “When Deepa and I met, we had general conversations. I was impressed by the story and thought no one in India was doing this kind of content. I acted all very cool and held back my excitement even though I was very eager to be a part of the show,” says the actor, who found the book very poignant and thought-provoking. Leila is Qureshis web debut.
She narrates how she almost missed her flight while trying to send Mehta recording of a scene from its script. “It was noon for Deepa (she lives in Toronto) while I was going on a vacation and about to board a midnight flight in Mumbai. She asked me to send a scene. She hated the first recording and asked me to send another. I was sure I was going to miss the flight as I struggled to send the clip,” she recRead More – Source