Nandita C Puri was born in Calcutta and spent her early childhood in boarding school in the former French colony of Chandernagore. She studied in Calcutta and Bombay, majoring in English Literature and worked as a writer and journalist with several newspapapers like The Telegraph, The Statesman,The Times Of India, The Reader’s Digest and others. For nearly a decade she wrote one of the most popular weekly film column on cinema for Mid-Day (Potpuri) and India’s largest circulated daily, Dainik Bhaskar (Khaas Chehre). She has also worked as a broadcast journalist for All India Radio and Radio Network (with former BBC Chief Mark Tully) in Calcutta. She has written for television and feature films, having penned a typical Bollywood commercial film called Mera Dil Leke Dekho (2006) apart from a number of documentaries and shorts. However, her collection of short stories, Nine On Nine (published by Rupa & Co.in 2005) has been critically acclaimed and well received. It has gone into many editions and has also been translated in German at the 2006 Frankfurt Book Fair. Besides one of the stories has been included in the Sahetya Akademi Anthology of Indian writers. Filmmaker, Mike Nichols (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Graduate, and Catch 22) wrote about nine on nine, “Nine on nine is fascinating because it is funny and full of life, the writing is a mixture of compassion and toughness, and it is really political writing in the highest sense. The closest I can compare this book is to Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth.
In 2010 Nandita published the biography, Unlikely Hero: Om Puri, which has been on the best sellers’ list and translated in several Indian languages including, Hindi, Malayalam, Punjabi and Marathi. The following year Nandita published her debut novel, Two Worlds (Rupa & Co), a historical romance spanning two centuries and several continents. The book was launched at the jaipur Lit Fest in the presence of Orhan Pahmuk. It was on the best sellers’ list for several weeks. Nandita Puri has been a member of the script committee of NFDC (National Film Development Corporation) and CFSI (Children’s Film Society of India) as well as a TEDx Speaker.
In 2017 she lauched the Om Puri Foundation at the 70th Cannes Film Festival in memory of her husband, internationally acclaimed actor Om Puri to carry his legacy and philosophy ahead. Currently she chairs the Om Puri Foundation. Nandita has been working and researching on the sensitive subject of “international child trafficking” and “inter country adoption” since more than three years now through the personal story of Jennifer Haynes. The book, Jennifer’s Story, is being published by Rupa Publications. She has also completed the screenplay, Homeless / Jenny Hoover (working title) based on her book Jennifer’s Story.
Nandita Puri: There are two types of news first Hard news which comprises politics, international affairs etc. and there are Soft News which are related to entertainment i.e. Bollywood. In the crisis period of COVID – 19 when everybody was in Home, to keep themselves engaged they were highly relied on Soft News as an entertainment purpose. Bollywood people are very easy targets. Many people come and blame them for many ill practices which may be true but not completely. The news of death of SSR which flipped here and there would have been different if he belonged to any other sector than Bollywood. Every field has good and bad things but bad in Bollywood are given more attention. The industry and its people are still loved madly by the whole of India and the world too. Many of our actors have now started becoming a part of Hollywood.
Abeer Kapoor: I would like to say, agreeing with fellow panelists, that Bollywood is indeed an easy target. We can see a deliberate witch hunt of Bollywood by some erroneous people. We are sitting here in our place making theories that don't seem very good ideas. In the early 90s we saw change in mainstream movies and music. We have moved from single screen to multiplexes where prizes have grown exponentially. So they have to target audiences. Algorithmic lynch mobs of some media houses are playing for High TRPs. There is a difference between people. Question is what messages does Bollywood is giving? Storytelling has gone down. Regional cinemas are doing better than them. While the commercial movies today are taking up huge revenues, capital is also available for risky ideas. A number of producers are willing to put money into projects that would have been deemed unviable a decade ago.
Sharmishtha Gooptu: There are many issues with Bollywood like drugs and sexual harassment. Well this thing is in all fields and not only in Bollywood only. Sexual harassment is as early as Bollywood itself. But earlier you couldn’t speak –up. These days we run a campaign such as “Me-too” to expose harassment cases. With the idea of sexual harassment so ingrained in our society, perhaps it’s time to revisit Bollywood and see exactly how much of the amusing or even ‘cute’ courting scenes actually fall between the murky lines of sexual harassment and actual courtship.