Nostalgic Deepa Mehta craves for Dilli's channa-chai
She stays in Canada and is a filmmaker of international repute, but Deepa Mehta's heart misses the small joys that she experienced in the capital during her college days. She misses 'chai' and 'channas' and old world charm of central Delhi's streets.
"I love the golgappas in Bengali Market," Mehta gushed here, with the excitement of a young college-goer.
She is 62 now. But memories of her days at Lady Shri Ram College for Women (LSR) are extremely fresh in her mind.
Recalling the same with a beam in her eyes, she shared: "I studied Philosophy at LSR. Those were great times. I was coming from the Welham Girls School (at Dehradun), and there, we stayed in a very protected environment. So, to come to Delhi and be part of a college with girls from all across, was great... The ability to go out, and have chai and channa outside the college was a lot of fun."
She just had a small complaint upon her visit to the capital this time - one of her favourite sweets shops in Sunder Nagar has closed down.
"I was very upset... but that gave me a reason to head to the famous Bengali Market again," quipped Mehta, who was in the capital to promote her upcoming film "Midnight's Children".
She, however, hopes that "some things of Delhi are preserved".
"I was brought up in Delhi, and I really miss a few things. I miss going down Curzon Road, and the beautiful old bungalows... it is all gone. I feel the fact that that architecture hasn't been preserved is a sheer pity. There should be some value to heritage buildings... and heritage in itself," she said.
Disappointment also loomed over Mehta's mind when she come down to India to scout for locations for "Midnight's Children".
One wonders why she chose to film the movie in Sri Lanka, especially when the story itself is based in India. The obvious answer had so far been her fears over the reaction of extremists.
But Mehta says: "It was partly the reason, and not wholly."
"We didn't even take permission (to shoot here), not because we probably wouldn't have got the permission or even if we were given the permission, we would been shut down by protests. One of the main reasons for not shooting in India, and specifically in Mumbai and Delhi, was because 'Midnight's Children' is set in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, and when we came down to look for locations, we realised how drastically the cities had changed.
"Wherever we put the camera, there were the skyscrapers and flyovers. And when you see the movie, you will realise, the film needed the expanses, it needed the whole vista of the Arabian Sea. It didn't need the skyscrapers," she added.