Japan Foundation had organized a week-long film festival in Delhi, starting from 10 November, in an endeavor to give the Indian audiences a sense of the contemporary Japanese cinema. As many as 15 films were lined up for screening, including feature films, documentaries as well as anime.
The opening film of the Japanese Film Festival was Takeshi Furusawa's ReLIFE – based on a popular web manga. One of Japanese cinema's exciting young talents, Yuna Taira, who plays the film's lead, spoke about her work in an exclusive interview conducted with the help of a translator. Edited excerpts.
Q. You are quite young and you started acting when you were much younger. Tell us about your journey as an actor in Japan. And the challenges you had to deal with.
A. I started my career at the age of 11. With every new film there are new challenges. There is a new role and a new director each time you start off on a new project. I have been doing that for 5-6 years now and have continued to learn while enjoying the new challenges.
Q. Tell us how you approach your roles. What kind of preparation goes into it?
A. Each role is different. Since ReLIFE is based on a comic strip which is very popular in Japan, I had to first study the comic first and in particular the part of Hishiro that I had to play. Then I tried to match the part in the comic strip with my role in the script in order to study every detail of the character.
Q. Japan has produced legends like Akira Kurosawa and Yasujirô Ozu who have brought global recognition to the country. How are the current filmmakers in Japan carrying that legacy forward?
A. Today Japanese movie world is not operating in terms of the directors' brand anymore. The most important director that I can think of is Takeshi Kitano who is also very popular. Apart from him you can't really identify any particular brand of director in whose name the movies are popular.
Q. The issue of gender pay parity is a major concern in showbiz across the world. Do the female actors have to deal with any disparity in terms of pay?
A. Well, the pay does vary depending upon an actor's reputation and career progression but as far as I know there is no discrimination between male and female actors in terms of pay in Japan.
Q. In the past many Japanese actors have acted in Hollywood movies. Are you open to such an opportunity?
A. Since my childhood it has been my dream to work in Hollywood but I feel that I must first do well and excel in the Japanese world and then think of the other opportunities that may open up in due course of time. Also, I need to master the English language first and so it is definitely a part of my long term plan.
Q. What have you heard about the Indian film industry? Have you watched any Indian films? Are you open to working in Bollywood?
A. I haven't seen any Indian movies yet. And so I have no impressions. But I would love to watch Indian movies as I have heard that they are very good. If I get an opportunity then I would definitely love to work in Bollywood.
Q. Tell us about your influences and people who have inspired you. Also tell us about your upcoming projects.
A. My elder sister is also working as an actor. She has been a great source of inspiration for me. I have always wanted to be an actor right from my childhood and my elder sister has been one great influence on me. I basically want to do movies that leave great emotional impact on people, not only in Japan but also outside of Japan. An upcoming movie of mine that's set to release this year is Tsutomu Hanabusa's Miseinen Dakedo Kodomo Janai.