Actress Chitrangada Singh on Her Role in Baazaarby Opinion Express October 30, 2018 0 comments
Actress Chitrangada Singh talks with this writer about her role in Baazaar, which she says is far from her real life.
She burst upon our screen as the complete antithesis of contemporary heroines. She was strong yet vulnerable. She could be rescued by the hero but was also capable of rescuing him right back. She was dusky when that singular attribute could push you into Bollywood oblivion. When one spoke of Chitrangada Singh or Geeta Rao, the character that she played in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, she was as flesh and blood and contemporary as any other woman could be. But just like a shooting star, Chitrangada disappeared, as troubles in her marital life dominated.
She turned producer with Soorma recently, appeared in an item in Gabbar is Back and is now seen in Baazaar which released this Friday to rave reviews where she plays, Mandira Ben who is married to Shakun Kothari, the character played by Saif Ali Khan. “I am a home-maker, married to this man who is ambitious as hell and trying to be as powerful as much as possible. She comes from a rich family and is not a career person as opposed to the others in the film. She is almost like the conscience of the film as she is the purest character,” says Chitrangada dressed in a black dress which has some elements of bling. She elaborates that her take on life, ambition and power is very different from the others. “She is trying to hold on to this man and bring him back from this game that he has got into but eventually gets sucked into it and how it affects their marriage and relationships,” she adds.
Coming to the #MeToo movement and the way it has affected the industry, she recalls one of her earlier movies, Inkaar which released in 2012 and grappled with the issue of harassment. “Everything that I have done has come too early, no?,” she says and laughs throwing her head back and goes on to add, “Bad timing. At that time I remember having this discussion when Sudhir (Mishra, the director) got in some people very high up from a leading ad agency. One of them discussed so many similar real-life situations. The forms of harassment are not always obvious. Even in the movie, we didn’t want it to be in your face. The mental pressure that you are put to and the professional setbacks that you possibly have for not giving in are immense. A woman has to work harder to prove herself. What I really liked about the film was that it was on that thin line and was so well-balanced.”
In real life too, Chitrangada took a stand which cost her a movie. She left the shoot of Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, midway as there was discrepancy between the way it was scripted and the way the film’s director Kushan Nandy wanted to shoot it. “It was written that they make passionate love. What is your interpretation of that you have to tell me beforehand. If you don’t, you can’t try and get away with anything on the set by pushing me into it because we are there and shooting. The language that he used, the way he behaved and shouted at me was unacceptable. He was so livid that he was shaking with anger. I think I am someone who can keep myself together quite a bit but I was crying. The worst part was that it didn’t matter to anyone. That’s not the way I would like to be treated,” she says recalling the time. She preferred to walk out lost out on a film. “Sadly, not many people took a stand. What I didn’t like was that during film promotions, Nawaz laughed and joked about me not wanting to kiss a dark complexioned man. I used to get these hate tweets from his fans saying that I refused to kiss him because he was dark. He went on to say on a radio station that, Humne to do do baar maze le liye. (I enjoyed myself twice). Somewhere you feel that just not sensitive about what the other person is going through. But the actual person who did it was not Nawaz so you cannot take his name in that sense. It is not fair.”
She does agree that harassment was rampant in the industry and she did hear about it often. “I’ve been fortunate enough not to go through a really horrendous experience. But I heard about it all the time. Sometimes I got a sense of what was expected out of me so I would take a step back,” she says.
But was it because of her stand that she isn’t seen as often? “Nobody is making films like Hazaaron… or maybe they no longer think of me when they make films like that. And I have been away for fits and starts every time. I suppose this affected my work. Other than that… ,” she trails off and shrugs while leaving whatever is on her mind unsaid.
However, Chitrangada has upped her game in an altogether different direction. “As a producer you are looking at things differently. It is a much longer process. You are trying to get the right people together which is a much longer process. You can’t pick up the phone and say acha chalo ye karte hain. It takes a long time for film to come as a producer. As an actor you are mostly concerned about your vans and your role. It is different as you are confined to yourself. But production is a lot more satisfying. You see it coming to life from baby steps. I made a three minute presentation pitch and then wrote out those 30 pages and then you finally have the film. I think the amount that I learnt in those two and a half years, I wouldn’t have otherwise. Also, there is more respect for producers,” she says.
Having taken up something new, she is ready to venture further into unchartered territory. She is reading some interesting scripts for digital content. “The kind of production values and the writing that is done is great. Everything has improved — the content, writing and the directors on board running the show. It is a great place to be in.”
On another note, she is happy about the way the industry is changing. “It is moving in the right direction. Having superstars on board is no longer a guarantee of a film doing well. I am so happy the audience have changed. They want good content and they have really evolved so all credit to them. This has to do with the international exposure which has made all the difference,” she says as she hopes something similar comes her way as well.
Writer: Saimi Sattar
Courtesy: The Pioneer