Girls Will Be Girls

The film Indo-French project will tell the story of the coming-of-age of a mother-daughter duo

Ali Fazal and Richa Chadda
Ali Fazal and Richa Chadda

Garima Sadhwani

Actors Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal’s maiden production is already amassing international endorsements, even before going on the floor. “The film has been at the Berlinale Script Station and is also getting nurtured at the Jerusalem Script Lab for the last two-three months,” says Sanjay Gulati, co-producer of Girls Will Be Girls, that is being made under Chadha and Fazal’s production venture, Pushing Buttons Studios.

This film is the only Indian script invited to the Berlinale Script Station 2021 and is one among the 10 projects selected from around the world each year. Moreover, from the Jerusalem Script Lab, the film will reach the Jerusalem Film Festival, where it will be formally presented in July this year.

Written and directed by Brooklyn-based filmmaker, Shuchi Talati, the film will be an Indo-French project, co-produced by Pushing Buttons, Claire Chassagne of Dolce Vita Films, France and Sanjay Gulati and Pooja Chauhan’s Crawling Angel Films, Delhi. At the National Film Development Corporation’s Film Bazaar, Talati and Chadha met the other two production houses which have a record of making ground-breaking films that have premiered at international festivals.

“We had been talking about this film since 2018 when I met all of them, and we’ll hopefully start shooting in July this year. The location is not yet confirmed, but it’ll be somewhere in Uttarakhand,” says Gulati.

It’s a perfect fit for the kind of projects that the actor duo has been looking for- “stories rooted in the Indian ethos for a global audience”. It’s the story of a sixteen-year-old girl, whose mother hijacks her “coming-of-age”.

Chadha says in a statement, “The world that Shuchi has created is relatable, often cruel but never hopeless or nihilistic. Its honest awkwardness will make you chuckle, not weep. It’s full of relatable, lived-in episodes, that one finds oddly satisfying - like popping a zit.” She feels that the dynamics between mothers and daughters is something that not a lot of directors and writers in cinema have traversed and that is something that’ll set their film apart.

Fazal agrees and hopes that they are able to tell more thought-provoking and universal stories, interspersed with humour and love through their production house. “This is the first time that Richa and I are collaborating on a film as producers and the experience so far has been very rewarding. This film, being our first, is close to our hearts. I am also excited that our studio will enter the market with such a progressive, female-led story,” he says.


Talking about the unconventional theme she chose for “Girls Will Be Girls”, Talati says, “I like my work to challenge dominant narratives around gender, sexuality, and the Indian identity.”

Interestingly, Talati isn’t going to be at the Berlinale and Jerusalem alone. She has also bagged the New York Council of the Arts Grant for this film’s script. Chadha, who has been friends with Talati since her college days, says, “Shuchi is an amazing voice and I’ve been following her evolution for years, knowing that one day an incandescent film would be born from her brain. She is definitely a filmmaker to watch out for.”

Though their first production, this film isn’t the first international stint for Chadha and Fazal. The former has been on the jury for international film festivals in Japan, and travelled with her films to Cannes. Fazal has starred as the lead actor, with Dame Judi Dench in Hollywood’s Victoria and Abdul. A member of the Academy, he’ll also be seen in Kenneth Branagh’s “Death on the Nile”, later this year.

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