Weaving Stories Around Nature: Dia Mirza Chats With ‘Panga’ Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari

The ‘Thappad’ actress resumed her #DownToEarthWithDee sessions in conversation with the ‘Bareily Ki Barfi’ director, on keeping nature a constant in the craft of cinema

New Delhi: Describing her as ‘someone who has silently made a world of difference through her stories’, actor-producer Dia Mirza introduced writer and director Ashwiny Tiwari on the latest Instagram live #DownToEarthWithDee. Dia’s weekly Instagram Live every Wednesday started on Earth Day this year and will continue till World Environment Day on June 5, 2020. This series is Dia’s attempt to reconnect with nature through conversations with individuals who have made their own unique contributions towards sustainability.

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, who has written and directed genre-defining films like Nil Battey Sannata, Bareilly Ki Barfi, and most recently, the Kangana Ranaut-starrer Panga, engaged with Dia on how she continues to be inspired by nature and the role environmental consciousness has played in her filmmaking journey.

“Ashwiny is an incredible storyteller who puts a lot of heart into everything that she does. What resonates with me most strongly about her is how she weaves the narrative of nature and environmental consciousness into her stories,” Dia said about her guest.

The conversation began with how Ashwiny’s relationship with the environment took shape during her early childhood. “I grew up in a family where conversations were mainly about stitching clothes and growing food!” Ashwiny recalled.

“I’ve always been socially inclined, and I found that through films I could tell stories and that would be my way to entertain and convey a message to society.” the director said, going on to talk about her first film Nil Battey Sannata where an important location in the film was a greenhouse. Dia’s conversation with Ashwiny delved into the little things in her films that seamlessly incorporated elements of nature into her characters, locations, and even details of individual scenes. Despite her second film, Bareilly ki Barfi being a classic rom-com, Ashwiny found a way to highlight the connection we all hold with our roots. She successfully conveyed the fondness people have for their hometowns, despite moving to urban, metro cities, candidly saying “Pizza pasta bahut ho gaya, abhi daal chawal chahiye,” she further said.

With Panga, Ashwiny told Dia, she got to explore the characters interaction with nature much more. The director actually had vegetables and flowers specially grown for the film — from the tulsi plant in the front yard to the genda phool grown especially for scenes crafted for the characters to interact with nature.

Dia went a step further to highlight how the lead character in Panga used a metal bottle. “It was exciting to see a filmmaker using the context of that environmental consciousness in their narrative and bringing that into the story. The metal bottle has a character of its own in the film, as it forms a crucial part of Kangana’s narrative,” Dia pointed out, reminiscing of her 2018 campaign to #BeatPlasticPollution with the UN which led to a historic declaration by PM Modi to make India single-use plastics free by 2022.

Dia ended the conversation by highlighting the symbiotic relationship Ashwiny has with nature, whether through her production house named ‘Earth Sky Pictures’ or how she leads her personal life with her two children. From going to Ranthambore to Corbet to Kaziranga National Parks to growing vegetables in her own home now, the director has done it all with her kids, and feels that they have now built individual relationships with nature. “There is nothing that teaches us to discover balance better than nature does. I wish more mothers like you foster an understanding that all of life is connected because the best gift we can give our children is a relationship with nature,” Dia finished, bidding goodbye to her guest for the evening.

Dia has lined up some fascinating guests for her Wednesday rendezvous in the run-up to World Environment Day — all of whom share a common love for nature. “I hope these conversations on #DownToEarthWithDee help all those seeking ways to live in better harmony with nature despite living in cities. I hope they find some magic, inspiration, and solutions in our conversations,” the actor-producer said.

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