Sooni Taraporevala and her work never align itself with convention. The filmmaker, screenwriter, and photographer has a knack for taking the unconventional path, the latest being Yeh Ballet. We asked her for the five movies which continue to inspire her:
Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, which I saw when I was 18 in college in America. I fell in love with it for its breathtaking black and while cinematography by Subrata Mitra, its poetry, its lyricism, its performances, its brilliant evocation of childhood and for immersing a Bombay Parsi into Bengali rural life so thoroughly.
Frederico Fellini’s 8 ½ a film that has stayed with me more than 40 years later. I’ll never forget the opening and closing scenes, dance Saraghina dance, Asa Nisi Masa, Nino Rota’s hypnotic music and Marcello Mastroianni’s unforgettable face. 8 ½ is a film that truly illustrates that the child is father of the man.
Francois Truffaut’s Small Change is a delightfully charming film that is all about the world of children–it has interlocking stories about different sets of children who are the film’s only stars. Truffaut’s love and understanding of childhood shine through in this film.
Govind Nihalani’s Ardh Satya, bridged mainstream cinema and art house and was in its own way a stylistic inspiration for Salaam Bombay! I loved the authenticity of its characters, milieu and the brilliance of Vijay Tendulkar’s screenplay. It was as much about character as it was about the plot, with a taut structure and relentless pace.
And more recently Ronny Sen’s Cat Sticks, another black and white masterpiece set in the world of drug addicts in nineties Kolkata. Great films transport you into their universe and this one is an intimate insider’s view told through gorgeous images, amazing sound, music and a story that makes the ghosts of lost souls come alive.
Photographs: Supriya Kantak /Courtesy Netflix (Sooni Taraporevala on the set of Yeh Ballet)