News Sikkimese

Never be okay with hearing no, says Priyanka Chopra as Pahuna premieres at TIFF 2017

Director Paakhi A Tyrewala praised Chopra for agreeing to produce the film when many had said 'no'.

Co-producers Madhu and Priyanka Chopra and director Paakhi A Tyrewala

Shriram Iyengar

Priyanka Chopra's rise as a producer is starting to surprise a lot of people. The actress, who launched Purple Pebble Productions in 2016, has already produced a National award winner in Marathi (Ventilator, 2016), and has several other projects in the pipeline.

The latest production from Chopra's stable is Paakhi A Tyrewala's Sikkimese film, Pahuna. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 2017 today, with its director praising Chopra for taking the courageous decision to back the film.

In a video put up on Chopra's Instagram page, Tyrewala is seen speaking post the screening of the film. Standing alongside her producer, Tyrewala can be heard saying, "I was so tired of hearing no, and being told upfront." The director added how being a woman only compounded the issues that were already counting against her. She said, "I am a woman. I am a first-time director. It is a children's film. And it is in Sikkim."

Priyanka said if I make a good film, she'll take me to international platform: Paakhi A Tyrewala

In a heartfelt post on Instagram, Chopra said, "Never be ok with hearing the word no...because there will always be someone who will say "yes." I'm very proud of my first time "female" director @paakhi for having the courage to not give up, when people didn't believe this film could be made." 


Never be ok with hearing the word no...because there will always be someone who will say "yes." I'm very proud of my first time "female" director @paakhi for having the courage to not give up, when people didn't believe this film could be made. Bravo for wanting to tell a beautiful story that may not be what people consider mainstream... but today had a world premiere on an international platform at @tiff_net, with an applause that resonated for a very long time. Tonight an audience watched this film for the first time outside of our offices at @purplepebblepictures, and told us how proud they were that a story like this was told. Thank u @madhuchopra for your keen eye. Thank you @cameronpbailey for the opportunity to share this small film and a big message with a world about children's rights, the refugee crisis, religious conversion and the affect of adult decisions on kids from the perspective of our protagonists, who are 2 young kids from a small village in Sikkim. My heart swells at the thought of people standing up and applauding our effort. This is the reason I wanted to be a filmmaker. Major feels. 🌈❤ï¸Ââ¤ï¸ÂðŸ™ðŸ¼ðŸ™ŒðŸ¼ðŸ˜

A post shared by Priyanka Chopra (@priyankachopra) on

Thankfully for Tyrewala, Chopra accepted to do the film for 'those very reasons'. However, it was not an easy process. In a video of the post-screening interaction, Chopra says, "This was a really hard film to make because it is not an easy region. There were a lot of shooting difficulties we had." However, the new producer said she felt 'privileged that Pakhi trusted me with this film'.

Chopra also mentioned in her post about how the film received "an applause that resonated for a very long time" at the end of the screening.

While the film was received well by the audience for its 'innocence', it certainly was not easy to make. As the talks reveal, Tyrewala spent almost 13 years writing and re-writing the film before meeting Chopra. In fact, she even mentioned that she did not know the Sikkimese language when she started writing the story, to which Chopra butted in "Only a woman. Only a woman would be crazy enough to write a story in a language that she does not know."

The film, as Chopra describes it, speaks about 'a part of India that doesn't get seen too much, doesn't get too many people visiting. These stories, when it comes to conversion, when it comes to religion, when it comes to displacement, not knowing their families, is such a special and important story." The actress even praised the performance of the children in the film saying, "These are untrained kids from a small village in a small state in North East India which doesn't have a film industry. The fact that these kids could deliver a performance without having seen a film is such a testament."

The first Sikkimese feature film, Pahuna, has already received critical acclaim at the festival. Chopra, meanwhile, is set for a big year with international films like 'A Kid Like Jake' and 'Isn't It Romantic?' in addition to another Bengali production based on Rabindranath Tagore's life, Nalini.