At some point last year, when director Deepa Mehta was shooting Leila—Netflix India’s latest offering that came out today—it suddenly struck her that she could relate elements of the film to real-world stories unravelling around us. “There was a scene about these kids being caged to working on… some, some kadai (wok) or something (sic),” she tells VICE. “And, just then, the whole thing had happened in the US Border, about kids being detained and put in cages. So immediately I told the production designers, who were brilliant by the way, that let’s have cages instead of them being hooked on to something. The globalisation of information is so huge that we can actually do something that happened in El Paso, and put it here.”
Directed by Deepa Mehta, Shanker Raman and Pawan Kumar and based on Prayaag Akbar’s award-winning novel by the same name, Leila explores a dystopian world where class and caste divides are heightened. Starring Huma Qureshi in a central role, her character explores this world in search of her daughter Leila, who has been taken away by higher forces.
In this episode of ‘VICE Talks Film’, we caught up with Mehta, Qureshi and Akbar to talk about making a show like Leila in the political climate of India in 2019, working with a writer’s room that doesn’t include the original author, and using mediums differently to tell powerful stories. Get to know more about the show that hit screens today, and is already gathering rave reviews.
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