People and situations are humanised and relatable in her feature directorial debut "Doctor G", says Anubhuti Kashyap, who finds it a tad bit difficult to pinpoint how she defines the term "female gaze".
"Doctor G" is a campus comedy drama whose protagonist Uday Gupta, a budding doctor played by Ayushmann Khurrana, is a fish out of the water when he ends up as the only male gynaecologist in an all-women batch.
"This is a woman director's film," is what many of her industry friends said when they saw the movie for the first time.
"They said it's evident from the gaze. And when they said this, I went back and realised that this was done a bit differently. Things have been humanised and they have just been relatable...
"I don't know if it's just the female gaze or my natural way of being, of approaching things that has come into the film... I can't somehow segregate that," Anubhuti, who previously helmed Prime Video black comedy series "Afsos", told PTI in an interview.
As a modern educated youth who hails from a small town in Uttar Pradesh called Obra but has grown up across cities, studying in boarding schools, the director said her first feature film is based "in the world of the people I know".
"I've seen a mix of environments. I have been fortunately exposed to Bombay and Pune and studied in different schools. I was in London for a year. I have tried to tell the story from the perspective of today's modern world which is full of characters like you and me."
"I have kept it as real as possible. So, nobody is like a total a**hole in the film or a wonderful, sorted person who knows it all. Everyone is a mixed bag in a film and that's been my approach. I think the subtlety that comes in the film is probably my gaze," she added.
In the trailer of the film, senior gynaecologist Dr Nandini Srivastav (Shefali Shah) asks Uday to lose his "male touch" in order to make both himself and his patients feel comfortable.
Anubhuti, who boarded the Junglee Pictures project around 2017, said she loved the "unique" premise of the story penned by Saurabh Bharat but wanted to tweak the script.
"I liked the script but there was so much more about it that I didn't like and I wanted to change it. The banner was in sync with my ideas. I worked with the original writer, we brainstormed a lot."
"We arrived at some other version of the story. We added more characters, made the story more personal and brought in the aspect of the 'male touch'," she said.
"Doctor G" is co-written by Sumit Saxena, Vishal Wagh, Saurabh Bharat, and Anubhuti.
Given his resume heavily populated with social dramas on taboo subjects, Ayushmann was the top choice for the titular role for both the director and production house, who had worked with the actor on "Bareilly Ki Barfi" and "Badhaai Ho".
"Junglee Pictures had already done two films with Ayushmann and this film seemed to be an Ayushmann film. He apparently had shown an interest to do another film with them, if it was a high concept story. So, they pitched it to him as he fit the film the best. We as a package fit Ayushmann the best," she said.
Anubhuti started her career as an assistant to director Raj Kumar Gupta in the 2008 movie "Aamir" and later went on to assist her brother, acclaimed director Anurag Kashyap on his films such as "Gangs of Wasseypur" and "DevD". Her other brother Abhinav Kashyap is best known for the Salman Khan-starrer "Dabangg".
She is the third director in the "family of film lovers" and all the siblings borrow a lot of traits from their father who is a storyteller himself, the filmmaker said.
"Our father is a strange and funny man in real life. He loves to tell stories, he is an engineer. Somewhere all of us have picked elements of humour, storytelling and a certain interesting and boisterous approach to life from him."
"Anurag was the only one who knew this is what he wanted to do and he did. The rest of us slowly followed. Abhinav, the other brother, followed much earlier. I didn't even think about being in the films somehow."
Education was always given more importance over cinema in her family, the filmmaker said. So, she went down the standard route of pursuing an MBA and working in the corporate world for about eight years.
But, there came a time when she took a short sabbatical to reassess her career. It was elder brother Anurag, who she said, encouraged her to try out filmmaking.
"Anurag always had more faith in my creative abilities than me because I used to do theatre and plays in college. I never took it seriously."
"But the moment I took a break from the corporate world, he was the one who softly nudged me into thinking that I should try out films. That is how I started looking at films as a career option after having another career altogether," she said.
While her entry into films was late, once she started exploring the field, Anubhuti said she felt she would do just fine.
"When I spent some time on the sets and started making my short films, I figured it's fine. It's easy, I can do this. I like watching films and telling stories. That's when I started thinking about it seriously. But, I'm still exploring."
"Doctor G" also stars Rakul Preet Singh and Sheeba Chaddha in pivotal roles.