Home»News»Exclusive! Yami Gautam: I feel soon the phrase, ‘women-centric films’, will be redundant, we will coexist and have equality in opportunity»
Yami Gautam came to Kolkata to promote Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Lost which will be dropped on Zee5 on February 17. Along with the actress, the film also features Pankaj Kapur, Neil Bhoopalam, Pia Bajpiee, Tushar Pandey, and others. Earlier, she spent days in the city while shooting. She admitted that she was treated with a lot of nolen gurer mishti and love in Kolkata. In an exclusive chat with OTTplay, she talked about her experience in the city, her opinion on the transition of Bollywood, and a lot more. Read on…
How is Kolkata treating you this time?
It has always treated me really well, with nothing less than nolen gurer misthi and all. I was already been treated with cakes and nolen gur since morning. And that’s how my relationship is with Kolkata. Even during the time we were shooting Lost, Tonyda (Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury) and Indranidi pampered me with food. It is also because there is great food on every street and we were shooting all over the city. We explored the food and beverages as much as we could.
What’s your favorite?
I think I love Flury’s. It is not just the food but also the essence of that old-world charm.
What made you say yes to Lost?
The script. First the script. I love the way it is written, the authenticity, and the unpretentiousness. It was not forced to say something that it was saying. What the script needs to say is saying it loud but it happens in a very organic way. Second, my role, and third, Tonyda.
And how is Aniruddha to work with?
Just like everybody else, I watched Pink, Antaheen, and all his other films. He is a really good filmmaker. He knows how to read your mind when you are his actor. He manages to capture your soul in his films and I don’t see how he does that. Lost is a simple story, to be honest. But what makes it different is that he wanted to make it somewhat different and new comes out. While a simple story can be shot in so many ways, or you can spoonfeed the audience every piece of information and every scene by making it verbose, he said I don’t want to do that. Audience understands. He does that beautifully. I think there are two kinds of people you remember – the best and the worst. He has to be one of the best. The way we shot the film – with our sweat as you can’t help in Kolkata – shooting in every nook and corner, 10 changes a day, on the street with no place to sit, become so worth it. You know your director, the captain of the ship has everything under control and manages to steer it together, it becomes very satisfying.
Like Lost, a lot of content is being generated that portrays very strong female leads. Can such women-centric films or series reverse the cycle of age-old patriarchy in the industry?
I feel in times to come the word ‘women-centric’ will become redundant. I understand why we use this word. It is because of the way for the longest time the women are represented in cinema. While we also had Mother India in the past and some of the legendary actresses left their impact. In an outright commercial film, we had Srideviji and then we also had actresses like Smita Patilji. We had Nutanji, Hemaji (Malini), Waheedaji (Rahman), and the actresses from recent generations – they all left a deep impact. However, the volume of such strong female character films has gone up now. This awareness has started happening now. I definitely see the scene is eloving. And if there is anything in any film that shows women in a weaker light, it is called out. I think it takes time. We all know it will not change overnight. One character or two films will not change it. It is a process. We have some fantastic female writers who are writing some solid characters these days. I always feel that there is no competition. I feel we need to coexist. When we talk about equality, it is equality in opportunity. It is not always one is challenging the other. It is also about balance. And I also feel the content needs to be good. With alone a strong female actress will not help. They need to be good films. You may start watching a film for its concept but if you don’t like the film, you will not remember it. I think better roles need to be written and better films need to be made.
The Indian film industry is going through a transformation in which other language films are giving tough competition to Bollywood. Do you think the rise in OTT content has helped erase the language barrier in entertainment?
For some reason, the word Bollywood sounds a little odd today. I refer it to as the Hindi film industry, as it is like the Bangla, Kannada, or Tamil film industry. I am very glad that, courtesy of OTT platforms (it is not that we used to not watch other language films), the other language films got a huge exposure since the pandemic. It brought the audience together. That’s what the audience wants, they want stories. It really doesn’t matter which language it is told. It squashed all those set notions that if you only have certain names on the casting list your film is salable. This year, more than ever, that idea got squashed. I feel there is no harm in accepting that there is a need for correction. We should not be embarrassed. You need to shuffle things if it is not working. The audience believes in equality. For them, it doesn’t matter. I’ll give you Chandigargh’s reference because that’s where my parents live. Kantara was released during Diwali. My parents wanted to watch a film and though there was a Hindi film running, they went to watch Kantara. It was a houseful show. They watched it for three hours. It is not a competition in that somebody has won and somebody lost. We need to see what the audience wants and they want different stories. Same for Avatar 2. We all were waiting for the film. It is not about the budget. But somebody, through their stories or visuals or something, has managed to engage the audience. That’s important. It is time for real creative juices need to come out and for writers and directors to be at the forefront. We, the actors, only execute and the right casting needs to come out. The intent should be in the place. There should be different stories.
What’s your take on censorship on OTT?
There is nothing wrong with censorship on OTT. I think it is fine because I see the ipads in young hands also. Although there is parental discretion involved, I think the way the medium is shifting and the way there is this influx of so much content censorship may help. It depends on what kind of censorship though. We come from a diverse country where balancing out everybody is a bit of a challenge. If there are measures to strike the balance it is good. Making a generic statement is very difficult because it depends on the content and the maker.-
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