For the April issue of Vogue India, Shahnaz Siganporia wrote a piece on three women working with poetry. Many thanks for the article.
THE VERSE SCREENER
In her final year of the Graduate Film program at NYU, the energetic Shripriya Mahesh, 39, signed up for a class called Directing Poetry. Twelve writer/directors would be shortlisted, and each would work on adapting a poem into a short film. She was picked to being her tutelage under Hollywood’s intellectual heartthrob James Franco, who was the leading the study group. And that’s how Mahesh began working on her short film, The Color Of Time, starring Franco and Jessica Chastain, among others.
Poetry was nowhere on the horizon for this Chennai-born-and-raised woman — in school, she was obsessed with her camera and thought she would be a photographer some day. But as she grew up, the need to be self-sufficient took over and Mahesh got her MBA from Harvard instead. She almost found her calling in Silicon Valley — “I loved the Valley, and was happy working on cool products used by millions of people” — but fate led her to New York, where the nascent tech industry provided little satisfaction. The old photography bug bit again, but this time she found it too solitary an experience, feeling more drawn to the world of filmmaking. and that’s how she ended up joining a class in which she trans-created poetry.
Today, Mahesh is a bona fide poetry buff and wants to work more with the art. In the meantime, she’s busy in Singapore, researching and writing her first full-length film, set in South India. “With poetry, it’s easy to get lost in the complexity of the words. Film can make it more accessible because there is a visual clarity,”she explains. As for her favorite verse, Mahesh frequently finds herself immersed in the world of Pulitzer prize-winning poet, CK Williams. “I was drawn to [this poems] ‘The Color Of Time’ and ‘Waking Jed’ because I am a parent,” she says. Both examine the father-son relationship and form the core narrative of her film, out this year.