Published: 15th October 2019
Director Tanuja Chandra's Aunty Sudha Aunty Radha will make you call your sassy aunt ASAP
Aunty Sudha Aunty Radha by director Tanuja Chandra shows how two ladies can be in the twilight of their lives and still have their sense of humour and life intact
Imagine two widowed sisters, aged 86 and 93, living away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Before your mind paints a grim picture of two wrinkly ladies withering away, dreading death let us tell you that the two aunts we were introduced to, courtesy well-known director and writer Tanuja Chandra, are nothing like that. They are easy-going, share a fantastic camaraderie with a sense of humour that clicks and more importantly, they treat death as something that will come when it has to. Chandra, best known for her latest movie Qarib Qarib Single, has given us a light-hearted debut documentary in Aunty Sudha Aunty Radha.
Did we mention that she debuts as an actor too? The 50-year-old laughs when we mention this and says, "Acting was never something I was dying to do, but my two aunts have been inviting me to visit them forever, so it just felt right to be in it." Immediately we start gushing over how refreshing it is to see sassy aunts in this time when cocky youngsters are hogging screen space and Chandra agrees whole-heartedly. "The world is so geared towards the youth and capitalists profit the most from them and see them as a business. So, through my debut documentary, I wanted to convey how we ought to treat our elders and their wisdom with more respect," explains the New Delhi-born filmmaker. So, is young India taking care of the elderly, we think out loud. "Unfortunately, no and it's a tragedy. They have looked after their children their whole life and in reverse....," she trails off.
Chandra loves documentaries and hopes that in this country which is filled with stories, documentaries will be respected more
Coming back to the boss ladies in the documentary, Chandra's own aunts Sudha and Radha, bound by their walkers, live in Lahra, three hours away from New Delhi. Their husbands have passed away, they have fulfilled their familial responsibilities and now have decided to live independently. These two happy souls do bicker and pick on each other, but underneath it is a bond that makes them each other's confidants. So, how did these two react to the camera? "They are not camera savvy at all, so half the time they did not even notice it. It was so natural," says Chandra with a smile adding that to live a life of such contentment, financially security plays a major role. "When the documentary was being screened at Chicago South Asian Film Festival and the Tasveer South Asian Film Festival, Seattle, the audience was laughing and felt so connected with the aunts," she shares.
Laughter is in the air: Chandra (centre) with her aunties | (Pic: Tanuja Chandra)
These two ladies live comfortably with a domestic help, grow their own vegetables too. "They taught me that serious and heavy topics like death and sorrow can be spoken off in a lighter vein," explains Chandra and adds that there were two cameras floating around the house which produced footage so massive that it deserves a film of its own. The message that Chandra intended to deliver through this piece was that, "These women have a lot to teach us, especially about how to negotiate the end of one's life with dignity and humour," she signs off.
Do you remember?
Chandra is best known for:
Dil To Pagal Hai
1997: Chandra was the co-writer of the screenplay of this Shah Rukh Khan-lead romantic movie
Qarib Qarib Single
2017: Starring Irrfan Khan and Malayalam actress Parvathy which earned her lots of praise
Scenes from the documentary: