Whether it is Vidya Balan, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari or multiple award-winning south Indian actress like Nithya Menen, each of these actresses are constantly striking a balance between strong female-led roles and appearances in popcorn commercial films to prove their versatility and push the boundary as performers. All of them tell you that while it is okay for the audience to have expectation from them, they should not be typecast based on their film choices every time.
The quartet opened up while promoting their upcoming Independence Day release, “Mission Mangal”, here on Wednesday.
Vidya is an actress who has successfully delivered some of the finest performances in female-oriented films such as “Parineeta”, “The Dirty Picture”, “Kahaani” and “Tumhari Sulu”.
Asked why striking a balance between different kinds of cinema is important for a Bollywood actress to avoid getting typecast, she said: “I think women are always get typecast in everything that they do. That is ridiculous.”
Citing examples, she said: “When an actress does five scenes and three songs in a film, people start saying she only does fluffy stuff and no serious roles. When she does substantial roles in serious films or female-centric films, she gets the tag of a serious actress. When I lost weight, people start saying I had lost my charm. I’d wonder how can they say that, because I had worked really hard to lose weight. I think society tends to find flaws in women so that they do not fly high.”
Having balanced strong female-centric films such as “Pink” and “Mulk” with a commercial potboiler as “Judwaa 2”, Taapsee looks at the issues of typecasting and audience expectation differently.
“Once we start doing something successfully, we are expected to do that and live up to the expectation of the audience. But I do not look at it as a burden because I think it takes a lot to build an audience that will have expectation from me of quality work,” she said.
“I think I am truly a star when the audience is expecting me to deliver something great. So I take that as a compliment. I want the audience to expect a certain standard when they come to watch my film,” added Taapsee.
However, isn’t such expectation more specific to female actors than their male counterpart? After all, when a commercial star as Varun Dhawan does an “October” and a “Judwaa 2” around the same time, or Akshay Kumar plans to release a “Housefull” sequel within a few months of “Mission Mangal”, such choices are counted as wise choices.
“I think we are putting gender in the matter only because, for ages, our films have projected female characters in a certain way. So, the audience had limited expectation from actresses. Now, we are in a cusp of change. Over the past few years crazy changes have happened. Of course, it will take some time,” Taapsee pointed out, adding: “It will surely change for the next generation, provided actresses don’t give up.”
Sharing her opinion on the matter, Kirti said: “While the script is much bigger for me than the length of my role, I won’t mind being placed in a commercial film where I just have to show up myself as a glam doll. But then, I will do it only if it gives me mileage to my other works where I am part of an important story.”
The actress played pivotal roles in films such as “Pink” and “Uri”, and she noted that she never goes by genre or canvas of a film, but the importance of the story she is investing herself into.
Nitya, who has a successful career in the south Indian film industry, said that all she wants is to match her performance with the sensibility of the story of the film she takes up.
“All my choices as an actress have been unconventional and I always go by my understanding and standard. I was offered Hindi films before, but those didn’t match my sensibility when it comes to the story. So, when Balki sir shared the story of ‘Mission Mangal’, I realised there was a specific role for me in this story, although this is a multi-starrer,” said Nitya, who is making her Bollywood debut with “Mission Mangal”.
Directed by Jagan Shakti, “Mission Mangal” opens on August 15.