Prateik Babbar sees playing migrant worker in India Lockdown as tribute to Smita Patil: 'Every day, I thought of her'
Prateik Babbar and Sai Tamhankar talk about playing migrant workers in India Lockdown and how Prateik’s performance is a tribute to mom Smita Patil.
When it was first announced that Prateik Babbar was playing a migrant worker in Madhur Bhandarkar’s upcoming film India Lockdown, many people were taken aback. The actor is known for a more urban image than what people would expect from an actor taking on such a role. But the actor and the filmmaker saw it differently. In conversation with Hindustan Times, Prateik and co-star Sai Tamhankar open up about the challenges of playing migrant workers and how Prateik’s role was an ode to his mother, the late Smita Patil. Also read: Madhur Bhandarkar says people warned him before casting Prateik Babbar in India Lockdown
Prateik Babbar says while people may have doubted his ability to pull off the role, he was never apprehensive. “I completely surrendered to Madhur sir. I have to give him credit and bow down to him for having that conviction because that gave me the confidence to portray this character with the utmost sincerity and honesty,” he says.
The actor says he was invested in the role because of the responsibility it presented to him. He explains, “I was immediately invested because we know the kind of lives these people live. Our heart was already there. I won’t call it pity but it does feel bad to see them go through so many hardships. Both Sai and I were very invested in these characters. It’s a huge responsibility to represent this community. It was essential to present this bitter truth of their lives.”
While the role may be new to his filmography, playing such characters connected to the grassroots was Prateik’s mother Smita Patil’s specialty. Regarded as one of the finest actors in Hindi cinema history, Smita made a name for herself playing such roles in films like Mandi, Manthan, Mirch Masala, etc. Prateik and Madhur both saw India Lockdown as an opportunity for Prateik to pay tribute to her. “I was also extremely invested because the first time I met Madhur sir, he said, ‘Prateik teri maa aise kirdaar nibhaati thi. Tu agar ye jee-jaan se karega to ye tribute ho sakta hai Smita Patil ko (your mother used to play such roles. If you do it with full honesty, it can be a tribute to Smita Patil)’. And I just said, when do we start? Every single day on set, I used to think about her. Every single day! Whatever the outcome of the film be, this character is dedicated to this community and my mother,” says Prateik.
Sai Tamhankar plays a domestic help and Prateik’s character’s wife in the film. She says more than the grueling outdoor schedule, getting into the mindset of the characters posed challenges. “To be very honest, shooting outdoors, having difficulties, or not having the usual comforts that you have is a secondary thing. I think what it did to us mentally is very important. All of us are very privileged people and we had to portray the exact opposite. So, like Prateik said it was a huge responsibility to represent this particular class of society,” she shares.
Sai says that what drew her to the film is how it does not highlight one person’s pain while playing down another’s. “What I like about this film is that you can’t really compare anybody’s sorrow to another person’s. It’s a film about how people faced the challenges they had to face and how they emerged from it,” says Sai.
India Lockdown also stars Shweta Basu Prasad, Aahana Kumra, and Prakash Belawadi. The film releases on Zee5 on December 2.