Bollywood is not making women-centric films: Mita Vashisht

- May 18, 2024
| By : Idrees Bukhtiyar |

Veteran actor pays homage to late filmmaker Kumar Shahani and says OTT platforms are losing their essence

VETERAN: Actress Meeta Vashisht has acted in hit films like Chandni, Taal and Dil Se as well as TV serials like Bharat Ek Khoj and Mr Yogi

Film and TV actor Mita Vashisht has lauded late filmmaker Kumar Shahani, hailing him as an exceptional director.

“After graduating from the National School of Drama (NSD), I got my break thanks to Kumar Shahani. It was a wonderful experience.

He was very disciplined and would listen to everyone patiently,” she said of Shahani, who died in February this year.

“He was an exceptional director and accessible to all. He had a vast knowledge about cinema. His focus was never to make business out of his cinema work,” said Mita, who worked in three of his films – Vari Vari Vari, Khayal Gatha and Kasba.

Mita said Shahani’s cinema has message that makes people think about their lives.

“He has contributed a lot to the industry. His content will never be out of date or treated as old,” she told Patriot in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the 16th edition of the Habitat Film Festival.

The 10-day festival began on May 3 and concluded on May 12 in the capital. This year, the festival featured a curation of nearly 40 feature films, 10 documentaries and three short film packages along with a vibrant collateral programme including retrospectives, workshops, filmmaking master classes, and panel and film book discussions.

The festival also paid homage to the late visionary filmmaker on the sidelines of screening of his films and conversation.

Mita has spent a good time in Delhi.

“I have lived with my grandparents in Delhi. In fact, my parents got married in this city only,” she said.

She shared memories from her days at the National School of Drama (NSD).

“We used to go to the Bengali Market and have samose and Rasmalai. Shankar market was also my favourite. Some of our friends used to go to ITO to have parathas. Mandi House was our favourite hangout. I still visit NSD to perform plays and teaching,” said Mita, who graduated from NSD in 1987.

The 56-year-old actor said there is a need to have more theatres across India.

“There should be more theatres as one has to wait for at least six months to book a theatre. Even theatre booking rates have become costlier. Moreover, theatres are being booked and given on hourly basis. I wonder what theatre will one do in a small period of time,” said Mita who worked in films like Chandni, Taal, Dil Se, Ghulam, Youngistaan among others.

She believes that Bollywood is not making women-centric films anymore.

“Their focus half the time is on making women look pretty on the screen. If you want to see women centric films, then you will have to go to great classic masters. The women-centric films that get awards are those in which females have been shown as helpless and unable to do anything. I call them banded films as there are no insightful stories,” she said before adding, “Kumar Shahani’s films are women-centric films.”

About the kind of films, she loves to do, Mita said, “I love to do everything, but something that is not commercial and has a meaning and impact.” She said that her one-hour solo play Lal Ded will enter its 21st year in the coming December.

“It took me three years of research and one year of practice on the floor. I was looking for a female poetess and wanted to tell her story to show the power of a female. Then I came across a character Lal Ded from Kashmir. She connects you with your inner soul and you can’t cage her in feminism and liberalism. My play has been loved by all and people make their own small performances on Lal Ded,” said Mita, who has performed the play across India.

She calls film festivals an important part of life.

“But they should not be agenda driven. Many international film festivals push agendas like environment, exploitation and human rights,” she said.

Her film The Shameless is scheduled to be screened at 77th edition of Cannes Film Festival which will be held from May 14 to 25.

“We were shooting for the film in Nepal last year and later we came across the news that it has been selected for Cannes. Everyone in the team is happy and it is a nice feeling,” said Mita who has appeared in web series like Criminal Justice, Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke, Your Honor among others.

She said that OTT is losing its essence now.

“It was during pandemic when people were hooked to OTT. I featured in OTT for the first time in 2017 but today problems like money and time is impacting it,” she added.