A FORM OF MAGIC
Sooni Taraporevala starts her photographic journey on quite an endearing note. Her desire to hold on to precious childhood moments leads her to photography, which she describes as a form of magic. The enchanting resonance she creates speaks out in her images. Her book, PARSIS: The Zoroastrians of India - a Photographic Journey captures the sentiment beautifully. A woman of both visuals and words, Taraporevala is revered for her panache in writing screenplays for films like Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala, Such a Long Journey, and the much anticipated The Namesake, which is set for a 2006 relase. A close friend of Mira Nair, Taraporevala is also privy to what she calls "Mira's Magic". The friendship culminated at Harvard and both ladies walked the red carpet at the Oscars seventeen years ago. Taraporevala attributes getting into screenwriting to her acclaimed friend, yet she has her own concoction of heady humour and flair for telling stories visually. Creatively inspired by life, Taraporevala hopes to make her own film this year.
As a Harvard freshman, she started clicking pictures with a gifted instamatic camera in 1975, at a time when owning a camera was considered 'special'. Totally enamoured by the play of seasonal colours, she captured her first fall and winter. As the novelty of the snow wore off for her, she itched to get a camera that could do more. A chance meeting with Steve Geovanis, a fellow student photographer and stringer with the Boston Globe, was the answer. She borrowed $200 from her roommate Cathy Dement and went to Boston with Steve to buy her first SLR - a Nikkormat.
She still remembers the feel of the camera in her hand. She learnt the basics from Geovanis and used black and white film to photograph. She also learned how to print and started sending pictures back home that were keenly appreciated by her father. A few years later she met the celebrated photographer Raghubir Singh who suggested a photographic study of her own community. In PARSIS: The Zoroastrians of India - a Photographic Journey, she brings the Parsis to life as each image narrates its own story.
In a special interview for ANOKHI, Sooni Taraporevala speaks to Preeti Thandi about her visual journey.
If you could capture
your life's journey in an image, what would the picture look like?
Why did you choose photography
as a career after completing film studies (before screenwriting)?
What attracts you about
photography and what does it mean to you? How has it changed through
the years, given your success as a screenwriter?
What was the most unusual
moment(s) you experienced during the process of publishing your book?
And what were the important lessons learned?
How did you get into
What elements do you
think make a good script great?
Which scripts and movies
are your personal favorites?
What was your experience
like scripting Rohinton Mistry's Such a Long Journey?
What was it like scripting
The Namesake? How was it different from other processes?
From Salaam Bombay
to The Impressionist, your journey with Mira Nair seems remarkable.
What is it like working with Mira creatively and professionally? What
do you share in common?
Can you tell us a little
about your family and kids?
Our children Jahan, 10, and Iyanah, 8, go up with him. Their mother stays home and waves from the window! I'm an earth sign - I like to have my feet on the ground. They both attend Bombay International School - a parent-run, non-pressured environment. Jahan is a good footballer. Iyanah is a fantastic mimic. They are both, touch wood, happy and enjoying their lives.
Toots is two years old. She has a very sweet nature - her favourite place is our bed, as is Jahan and Iyanah's. Two adults, two kids and a dog on one bed might seem a bit cramped but it's actually quite cozy.
WORDS: PREETI THANDI
[photographs: 1) Sean Ma at the Mumbai Air Show, 2004; 2)Mumbai Air Show, 2004; 3) Grandfather Aderji on his favourite trip to Flora Fountain to get his fountain pens repaired. Bombay 1985; 4) Rohinton Mistry on the set of the film Such a Long Journey. Bombay 1977
ANOKHI Magazine| Expression Section | Spring 2006
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