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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

Hindi films are less Indian now, says veteran actor Sharmila

Talks about her 60 years working in movies and the eras of transition that Bollywood has gone through

cities Updated: Oct 13, 2019 01:04 IST
Navleen Kaur Khetarpal
Navleen Kaur Khetarpal
Hindustan Times, Kasauli
Sharmila Tagore was the star attraction on Day 2 of the literary festival.
Sharmila Tagore was the star attraction on Day 2 of the literary festival.(HT PHOTO)

An epitome of glamour, elegance, wit and humour, Sharmila Tagore was the star attraction of the opening of Day 2 of the Khushwant Singh Literary Festival at Kasauli Club in the hill town of Kasauli on Saturday.

Talking to the executive editor of Penguin House, Shantanu Roy Chaudhari, Tagore talked about her 60 years working in movies and the eras of transition that Bollywood has gone through; from romance to ‘angry young man’ movies to the age of Nirupama Roys and the continuous push and pull of globalisation and its effects.

Tagore began her career as a teenaged child bride in Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansaar (The World of Apu). She reminisced about her struggles with school and college, posed with the difficult question of whether or not to join films as a profession. But she said education doesn’t just mean brick and mortar. “It is the people you meet and books you read that add to your education.”

When she joined the Indian cinema, she met with a lot of criticism, but she believed that the transition from regional to national cinema was essential for her personal growth. “With Hindi cinema, I travelled the country. Back then, we were deeply rooted in the Hindustani language. Nowadays, the actors get scripts in Romanised Hindi. The movies have become less Indian now. The reason Mother India and Lagaan made it to Oscars was because they had the Indian element that transcended the barriers of culture and language,” said Tagore.

On a serious note, Tagore said the inclusion of certain parts of India are missing in the cinema of today. “We gave a lot of visibility to Kashmir but unfortunately, not to the Kashmiris. Rural India has also disappeared from movies,” she said.

On the image of women in cinema, she says heroines then had to be virtuous on and off screen. They couldn’t be involved in scandals or be ‘bad’, hence the need for a separate character of a vamp.

“Now is a much better time for Indian cinema where women are concerned. We have moved from the male gaze to women directors and how they see the world. Movies like Piku and Raazi couldn’t have been made back then, with women taking lead in taking care of the father or even the country,” said Tagore.

Working conditions weren’t great for woman actors back then either. “They were primitive. The one time I regretted being a woman was when I had to use to washrooms. There were no fancy vans either.”

She concluded the talk on the note that in the times we live today, surrounded by screens, one should be wary of WhatsApp universities and fake news.

First Published: Oct 13, 2019 01:04 IST

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