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Posted at: Dec 3, 2016, 12:42 AM; last updated: Dec 3, 2016, 2:05 AM (IST)

A script made in heaven

She would have starred in the movie 5 Weddings a decade ago. Then a tragic turn, until producer-director Namrata Singh Gujral returned to her dream project


Everything has its own time and place. Or else how would one explain 5 Weddings, a film that was supposed to be made 10 years ago? Namrata Singh Gujral just wrapped up the shoot of the film, starring Nargis Fakhri and Raj Kumar Rao, in Chandigarh.

Director, and one of the producers for the film, she was the one to actually have starred in it, but, as they say, destiny had other plans!

Back in time

The film, which will be opened in Cannes, has Bollywood weddings for a theme. It talks of love and acceptance, life and death. A decade ago, Namrata had zeroed-in on Harbhajan Mann to play lead opposite her. But then breast cancer followed by blood cancer, and another film as a director; she finally could come back to the story she wanted to bring alive on screen. Nargis, an American working in India, after many auditions, selected Rajkumar Rao to play the lead. “It was a revelation of sorts that Nargis’ real-life draws many parallels to her on-screen character,” says Namrata, in Chandigarh, on Friday.

Deadly disease

The story, a cancer plot too, is something that was the subject of her docu-drama 1 a Minute too. It drew from herown battle with the deadly disease and many a famous women sharing their story. “When I approached the subject, not many were keen on it, ‘who would watch women with cancer film’ was the prejudice, but then there are issues that must make it to mainstream and, yes, we did make money on that film too.”

Up next

The current film is not is the same genre that many in Bollywood movies are, “Dealing with cancer is not easy, but it is not as melodramatic either,” says this Dharamsala-born director, who studied in the US and has made forays into Hollywood first as an actor and later as director, producer. In fact, her next project too deals with the disease. Cancer Moonshot 2020, a US government project, is what she is next documenting. “Medicine and technology have taken giant leaps and I am hopeful that by 2020, all kinds of cancer will have a cure. Just like diabetes, it will not be easy but hopefully in control.”

Divine purpose

In fact, Bhatinda Express is what she wants to work on too. And she is not just making films on the subject but also working closely with many foundations, including Nargis Dutt Cancer Foundation along with Priya Dutt.

“Everyone comes to this world with a purpose and I have a belief that one such purpose for each of us is to alleviate pain — physical, emotional and mental. I am trying to do what’s been coming my way,” she signs off.

Choose life over death

A cancer survivor, Namrata Singh Gujral banked on the Guru Granth Saheb when she was hit by the disease and that too twice. Finding strength in the scripture, her mantra to fight it out is to choose life over death. “In many cases, when diagnosed with cancer, the over-reigning thought is ‘I am dying’. Think clearly, we all are going to die eventually, sooner or later, by this or that. To conquer cancer, one must choose life and live the time you have; focus on life, not impending death.”


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