An Interview with Humaira Bilkis (Director)
The Insight Gained by Overcoming a Dilemma
Q: Why have you chosen to consider your work from such an objective perspective, using the pronoun “she” in the festival catalog description of a film that describes your own experience?
HB: A film does not just finish when shooting wraps. In the process of editing and interacting with viewers that comes next the film itself changes, of course, but the filmmaker’s own feelings also undergo a rich transformation. This film portrays my own experience, so during filming I was “I,” but by the time I wrote the description a lot of time had passed since shooting, and I was further along in my process of self-reflection, so I think I had attained a perspective that allowed me to say “she.”
Q: Could you share your own thoughts on the words: “Photographs, video, the painting of pictures. Why do we have expression? Why is it forbidden?” which are in the introduction?
HB: For me these are exceedingly profound words, and they have remained in my heart ever since I heard them in a certain mosque.
For a long time I faced a dilemma whereby I wanted to express myself but could not do so proactively. Because my expression would violate taboos of the Islamic faith even my family was opposed to it. I was unsatisfied and went to the mosque to find answers, but unfortunately I received the same response as I had from my family. But I think that this dilemma was a very good thing. For whatever reason, through careful thought with this dilemma in my mind, my will to express myself became clearly defined.
Q: Local children occasionally appear in the film. What kind of presence were children during your time abroad?
HB: The presence of the local children was almost angelic. Children are not wrapped up in judging others or fettered by various social obligations, but rather they will interact with the person before them with a pure spirit, so I like them very much.
When I was abroad, I pressed adults who live in Delhi with all kinds of questions: Are you from this country? In what religion do you believe? To what caste do you belong? In the worst cases their personalities and ideas had been arbitrarily decided for them.
For me, in the loneliness of this experience, times when I could interact with children were moments of peace.
Q: What kinds of meanings are wrapped up in the title, “I Am Yet To See Delhi?”
HB: I chose this title because it contains an ironic commentary on the tourism industry; just like the other tourists, I have not really seen Delhi.
Every day Delhi is jammed with tourists, and many of these people hurry on their way once they’ve taken pictures of the famous sites. That kind of thing made me uncomfortable. I thought it was as if all they wanted was to record the bare fact of their visit.
If you are not proactive, talking to local people, experiencing the buildings themselves where possible, and so on, you can’t really know a place, can you? I was seeing Delhi by undertaking this process, by sensing the long memory of the place.
(Compiled by Ishizawa Kana)
Interviewers: Ishizawa Kana, Kusunose Kaori / Interpreter: Nakazawa Shino / Translator: Tyler Walker
Photography: Kano Megumi / Video: Hirai Mona / 2015-10-11