Anu Vaidyanathan

W r i t e r - D i r e c t o r - C o m e d i e n n e

Anu Vaidyanathan, fresh off her Edinburgh Fringe run with her show BC:AD – Before Children, After Diapers,has hit the global comedy circuit thanks to her boundless comedic talent, wildly successful debut and incredible journey as an engineer, endurance athlete and filmmaker for which The Wall Street journal declares her to be 'India's female Ironman', and Sports Illustrated hails 'Vaidyanathan represents India and Indians on the world stage'. With appearances in NYC off-Broadway, London, Paris, Berlin, Prague and three tours in India her show looks to resume touring in the Fall.

As a comedian performing in English and a writer-director making films recognized across the world, Anu has gained steady appeal in more than a dozen countries with her book, films and comedy. The Hindu writes 'Recently, in the UK, Anu Vaidyanathan almost got robbed in an alley. But instead of thinking how to run, she thought what a great set this would make for her standup act. Ever since she stepped into the role of a standup comedian, inspiration comes from everywhere, be it while changing diapers or being slapped awake by her sleeping child.'

In addition, her memoir 'Anywhere But Home' was longlisted for the Mumbai Film Festival's adaptation market with offers from two major Bollywood studios for options. Her scripts have found themselves at Sundance and Rotterdam. Anu has created, produced, and directed multiple short films, which have been screened at the Lighthouse Intl. Film Festival (New Jersey), Manifest Festival (Pondicherry) and wond awards at the South Film and Arts Festival. She is working on her debut feature film in 2023. She has been featured in leading press including the BBC, Harper's Bazaar, The Wall Street Journal, Pix11 News NYC, NDTV and the Hindustan Times. She is also writing a second show for the 2023 edition of the Edinburgh Fringe titled 'Blimp', drawing from her life as a female director.

What is the story behind your film?
Bolide is the story of the price a woman has to pay to be an artist. Its a moody thriller, shot in Black and White, as a response to the remake of a terrific film, Nightmare Alley. I was keen on understanding how much we could achieve with tone and this film felt like the perfect exercise in achieving that.


What should people take away, gain, realize after watching your film?
That the generational debt of women artists perpetuates. For better or worse.

Do you think that films can change people for the better or for the worse?
Not at all. We are not curing cancer. I believe music is the least common denominator, not books or film which need access and money - to make and to consume.

How was the creation of your project at the time of COVID-19?
It was very stressful. The highlight was our star, Emma Wilkinson-Wright, whose work-ethic inspired me to get through the toughest bits smiling. I edited this film myself and that too was a positive payoff for making this very difficult film.

What creation style did you use in the production of your project? What cameraman elements did you use?
Our crew was on a different project until hour before our own shoot. I simplified the shotlist to follow the emotion and freed the cameraman from the tripod. This really helped in creating the sways in light, movement and most of all the character's state of mind as her confessional evening progresses. The glass menagerie she uses was critical to the project, as was her costume. The costumes were a discussion between the lead and me. I had an impression that this person would dress like Mrs. Danvers from Rebecca in normal life and a little more dressy for the evening we were setting our story in. My lead, Emma, raided her wardrobe to create the winning look.

How did you select the actors for your project?
Emma was my first choice for the project. She was recommended by another lady director I was very close to but her work-ethic and passion blew me away from our first meeting. After that, this relationship, which I consider most sacrosanct in production, buoyed everything forward.

Why do you think your film should appeal to distributors?
Because it was made on a lark and has a strong emphasis on words, rhythm, dramaturgy and movement.

At which festival has your film been screened?
Hopefully, yours.

How did your acquaintances react when they first saw the film?
I think I got the effect I wanted. A sharp intake of breath at the end.

If you could change something in your film, what would it be?
Nothing at this time.

Which movies are your favorites and why?
I have too many to list. I would watch anything by Chris Nolan, Guillermo Del Toro and Alejandro Inarritu.

What topics do you like to address in your stories?
Isolation, immigration, women and their wonderful words.

What is your motivation in making films?
Im a writer turned director turned comedian. My motivation is simply to tell the stories the world has forgotten about in the voice that has least agency, an immigrant mother's voice.

Which contemporary filmmakers motivate you the most?
SS Rajamouli, Greta Gerwig, Chris Nolan, Damien Chazelle, Barry Jenkins, Lulu Wang, Chloe Zhao and Vishal Bhardwaj.

What projects do you plan to shoot in the future?
I am in the process of making a feature film but short films are good practice and fun to make so, more of those too!