Academy Award Winner Megan Mylan was in Kolkata for the screening of her documentary titled ‘After My Garden Grows’ at the 20th Kolkata International Film Festival. Sholoana Bangaliana correspondent engaged the American Documentary Film Maker over a candid chat at the Nandan premises. Excerpts from the conversation..
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana-Welcome to our city Megan….So how is Kolkata treating you?
Megan Mylan-Oh!! It is a great experience. This is my first time in the city and with the film festival going on it looks like this is the only thing happening in the city.
What is the story of After My Garden Grows?
The story is about two sisters, Monica and Konica. It tells Monica’s story who is a sixteen year old girl. She is growing a vegetable garden. Her sister Konica was married at the age of sixteen and she had to leave school due to this reason. Monica’s parents are also looking for a suitable groom for her. She also had to leave school due to financial constraints. However due to her knowledge of organic farming, she is learning that she can have expectations and also not be forced to marry. Her parents understand that she is capable of doing more. Monica and her mother want a different path for her. Monica goes to the market to sell vegetables with her father. She gets twenty or thirty rupees for the vegetables, which may not be much. However you notice a change in the mindset of the people.
Are the issues of women empowerment and rights the primary theme of the story?
Yes, indeed (with a broad smile). Apart from the fact that the film focuses on organic gardening, it also raises important questions on the rights of women. The fact that the girl child is not a mere liability but an asset has been highlighted in this film. Girls should become aware of their rights and their potentials. They should understand when to marry, whom to marry, when to become a mother and so on.
Where in India did you shoot for the film? How was the experience of shooting the film in a place absolutely unknown to you?
We shot for the film in a village in Coochbehar. Landesa- rural development institute also helped me a lot in the shooting process in Coochbehar. I had a great time shooting for the film. I love what I do. It gives me a chance to lead someone else’s life and understand their problems. I was heartily welcomed by Monica’s family and I got to realize their issues. I will not say I understood every bit of the issues but in my small way I have tried my bit to showcase their life so as to bring about awareness.
How was the response to After My garden Grows?
Oh the response was fabulous! The hall was packed with audience, which always gives a good vibe. Moreover, after the show was over, there were some really good questions put forth by the audience.
Be it the Academy Award Winning Film Smile Pinki, After My Garden Grows or Lost Boys of Sudan, you seem to have a fetish for making short films and documentaries on topical issues. What is the connection?
More than me selecting the topics, the topics choose me. I come from a background of social justice work. I have always been interested in these topics. Topics like poverty and human rights violation always interest me. You tell me a problem and I am always on the lookout for the most effective solution to the problem. I am an optimist and I believe that there is always a solution to a problem.
What is your next project?
My next project is a short film on how the new generation in Japan takes care of the elderly in the country.
Academy Award Winner Megan Mylan with her thought provoking stories has always tried to bring up issues that the society loves to shun and shove to oblivion and we Congratulate her for her efforts and hope to see more such unique stories come to life through the lenses of her camera.
Documentary Film Maker Megan Mylan Interviewed by:
Priyanka Dutta takes a keen interest in lifestyle and entertainment related news. She also enjoys interviewing celebrities and other renowned personalities. Priyanka holds a post graduate degree in English and Mass Communication. Journalism is her passion and she has reported for many a reputed international web portals.