Ratna Pathak Shah, a veteran actress, feels the Hindi film industry is no longer putting out "garbage" in the name of films and that it is progressively heading toward global renown with its work.
The actor, who has been on stage and screen, claims that the expansion of the Indian film industry coincides with the seeming decline of cinema in the West. The influx of new filmmakers and their willingness to tell bolder stories has the potential to propel Indian cinema into the spotlight, according to Shah.
“We were genuinely laughable, today we are not. Today, we take ourselves seriously, and hopefully, the world will too. We haven’t got there yet, we are still struggling with many things, but we are on the path. Down the line, the world will have to take notice of us. “We will come up with shows, films, that will speak up, stand up for themselves. Not in the niche, but in the mainstream (space). Our moment will come. We also happened to be positioned well, because look at the garbage the West is putting out in terms of films!” said the actress in a recent interview with Indian Express.
But the current phase of Indian cinema, the 64-year-old actor said, is hard-earned.
Shah, who has appeared in some of the most critically praised films in recent years, including 'Kapoor & Sons', 'Lipstick Under My Burkha', and 'Thappad', believes the film business has merited criticism in the past for releasing mediocre work.
The cause, according to Shah, was the industry's collective insistence on 'trivialising' everything, as evidenced by its films.
When asked if it bothers her when people dismiss the entertainment business as a threat and criticise its apparent lack of worth, the veteran responded it "pains her" because it is true to a "certain extent."
“We have trivialised everything. Until recently, our films were about the most trivial things, garbage that we could see. Of course not all, but out of the large number of films we produced–800 or something–maybe only eight were something that would stand the test of time." she said. “That’s a meagre fraction. We deserved that appendage, that we need to be looked down upon. The industry was looked down upon, partly of course, (because) it was snobbery of the worst kind. That anything popular is so ‘downmarket,'” she added.
In the 1980s, the actor appeared in critically praised films such as 'Mandi' and 'Mirch Masala', as well as popular TV dramas such as 'Idhar Udhar' and 'Sarabhai vs Sarabhai'. Now, she wants to be a part of the growing narrative and find roles that will push her as an actor.
She expressed a desire to go deeper into personalities that go beyond the surface in studying various colours of women.
”What I would like to play now, I guess, is the more extreme fringes of human experience. I’ve never played a drunk, I have never played a mentally challenged person or a seriously unpleasant person. she said“Those are parts of me also. I would love to explore what I can be like when I’m really mean. And I don’t mean cute-mean like Maya Sarabhai,” Shah said.
The actress said unfortunately when writers come up with flawed characters for women, they make them like ‘mean men’.
“I got a part somewhere where I’m supposed to be the villain. But she was doing everything that Amrish Puri had ever done. I’d like to be mean, but not in such a stereotypical way. Women can be mean in a very special way, we don’t need help from men,” she added.
Shah recently acted in 'Hum Do Hamare Do' and will soon be seen in Ranveer Singh's 'Jayeshbhai Jordaar'.