Produced by Aanand L Rai, Nil Battey Sannata is director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s debut film. A realistic portrait of working class aspirations, it tells the story of Chanda Sahay (Swara Bhaskar), a single woman who works several menial jobs to ensure the best possible future for her daughter Apeksha (Riya Shukla).
While Chanda dreams that her daughter would one day be more educated than her, Apeksha is a disinterested student who struggles at mathematics and exhibits a rebellious streak. Worried that her daughter might not do well in Class 10, Chanda decides to enrol in Apeksha’s class to motivate her to study well. In the process, mother and daughter begin to understand each other a little better. Pankaj Tripathi and Ratna Pathak Shah play memorable supporting characters in the film.
Nil Battey Sannata was a surprise critical success when it released in 2016. What impressed many was that the film was inspirational and heartfelt, rooted in a believable milieu and focussed on a subject rarely covered in Hindi films—education among the poor.
Ashwiny won a Filmfare Award for her direction while Swara received a Best Actress gong at the Silk Road International Film Festival. The movie’s script was based on a story by Ashwiny’s husband—writer Nitesh Tiwari. The screenplay was co-written by the couple along with Neeraj Singh and Pranjal Choudhary.