‘Never knew when Mahasweta Devi’s lightning wit would strike’

Kolkata, July 29 (IANS) India-born independent filmmaker Shashwati Talukdar, who shot a documentary on eminent writer and social activist Mahasweta Devi, remembers her as extremely funny in person and says one would be taken unawares by her “lightning wit”.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award winning litterateur died following a cardiac arrest and multi-organ failure at a city nursing home on Thursday. She was 90.

“She was extremely charismatic and very, very funny in person. And you never knew when her lightning wit would strike,” Talukdar told IANS in an email interaction from Poland.

In the 2001 documentary “Mahasweta Devi: Witness, Writer, Advocate”, the tribal rights crusader asserted that “language is a weapon, it’s not for shaving your armpits”.

The 27-minute film is about Mahasweta Devi’s life and works.

“She said that and that is exactly what she did. She changed the course of my life as a filmmaker,” Talukdar said.

“Mahasweta Devi came at you like a train wreck. That’s what it felt like when I first met her in 2000 to make a documentary on her. Her thoughts were so clear and she expressed them with a sharpness that cut through the bullshit,” added Talukdar, who has also co-directed “Please Don’t Beat Me, Sir!” with director P. Kerim Friedman, which illuminates the struggles of Budhan Theatre.

The project follows from the documentary on Mahasweta Devi who inspired the formation of Budhan Theatre by local boys and girls of Chhara tribe in Gujarat.



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