Pooja Bhatt on 30 years of Daddy: It made me realise that films can change people’s lives
It has been 30 years since a naïve and docile Pooja Bhatt was launched in Bollywood by her father, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, in his directorial film, Daddy. And today, she stands tall as one of the most outspoken and fearless filmmakers in the industry. Recalling how the whole experience of being on a film set was so new for her, Pooja says, “I remember being thrown into the deep end with Anupam Kher, Manohar Singh, Suhas Joshi, Raj Zutshi… such fine actors, all trained from National School of Drama. And they were so patient with me and never treated me like a newcomer in that sense.”
All her senior co-stars, she says, “always showed me the route” and would often “stay back after their shootings” to give her the cues. “Not everyone does things like that but they realised that Daddy was an author-backed role and if the girl was not good, nobody would be good. Even I realised with that film that you are only as good as your co-stars are and your director and your role is,” she explains.
However, Pooja feels that things are no longer the same in today’s times. “[Now] People forget and confuse the role with the acting. They don’t say that the role is nice but would praise the actor saying ‘Yeh kya kamaal ka kaam kar dia’. I was realistic in knowing that mine wasn’t a performance in isolation. It was drawn out of me and I’m very grateful for that,” says Pooja, who goes on to share an anecdote that she cherishes even today.
“I was shooting for Prem Deewane with Jackie [Shroff] and Madhuri [Dixit] when a young girl came to me and said her parents wanted a picture with me; I happily agreed. She then told me, ‘My father stopped drinking after he saw Daddy.’ That was the first time I realised that films can change people’s lives,” smiles Pooja.
A theatrical adaptation of Daddy was staged last year that narrated the same story though from a guilt-ridden woman’s point of view, and Pooja can’t be happier that even after 30 years, the film’s story is still so relevant. “Alcohol is still a problem. In those days, for Doordarshan to put money into a film that dealt with a taboo of alcoholism was a brave move. In today’s times, you go to a corporate channel and they’ll say theme is not commercial,” she says, before adding how this play changed the game: “While you see Daddy through Anupam Kher’s perspective and Shraabi through Amitabh Bachchan’s perspective, but where was a film on this addiction through a woman’s eyes? That’s because there’s no perspective out there.”
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