Bollywood actress Kajol’s debut on a streaming platform comes at a time when the landscape for content consumption has changed in the wake of the pandemic.
With cinemas drawing their shutters for the better part of 2020, Bollywood film content that would largely be viewed at a local multiplex is now available online in the form of web exclusives. Over the past few months, film projects such as ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’, ‘Gulabo Sitabo’, ‘Durgamati’ and ‘Coolie No. 1’ have all premiered on various streaming platforms, with Kajol’s ‘Tribhanga — Tedhi Medhi Crazy’ being the latest project to debut on Netflix.
While showcasers and distributors continue to struggle against the new normal, Kajol calls it a ‘boon’, while choosing to remain neutral on what this could mean for theatres in the long run.
“I think it is a big boon but we will have to decide this when the theatres open up. But right now during the pandemic, it’s definitely a boon that we are still able to put films out there,” the actress told Gulf News in an email interview.
The 46-year-old also found the creative freedom found in web content production quite liberating. “The fact that we have so much more liberty to do what we want to do and not confine ourselves to one language or one country is an added boon,” she said. “It does not restrict you to one subject matter and there are a huge variety of things that you can do on a digital platform, which you probably will not take a risk of doing with a regular film.”
Kajol’s female-centric family drama, which dropped on Netflix on January 15, sees the actress play the role of Anuradha Apte, an Odissa dancer who is struggling with a strained relationship with her mother, Nayantara Apte, played by Tanvi Azmi. The film also stars Mithila Palkar as Anuradha’s daughter Masha.
“The story of the film is about three women and their journey together. It’s about relationships and how nobody is perfect but we all believe that we are doing the right things for the right reasons. In hindsight though, it’s always 50-50,” Kajol said, adding: “One always believes that they are a good person but when one looks back, they realise that they could also be bad … It’s about the relationship between a mother, daughter and a grandmother, about how history affects you and your future.”
Kajol revealed that she was first approached for the role nearly two years ago. “I heard and reheard the script about three times. The script itself has been through quite a few changes since then especially my character but the base of the story remained the same. While it took some time in the making, I think we always knew that we wanted to do this film and that is why we are extremely happy with the end product we got after putting our best into it.”
Describing her character as “outspoken and opinionated much like how the audience knows me,” Kajol, however, said her real life was very different from Anuradha’s. “In fact, my mom would’ve been a lot like Anu but not in the negative sense. But definitely in the way she brought me up, which was very broad-minded due to which I’ve had an amazing childhood.”
The actress has always maintained she shares a close bond with her mother, veteran Bollywood actress Tanuja, while hoping to imbibe her mother’s openness while raising her own daughter Nysa. In fact, in a recent interview with Hindustan Times, Kajol also lauded her mother for patiently discussing her separation with her husband, late filmmaker Shomu Mukherjee.
“My mom was very real with us. I was brought up in the time when most parents never had open conversations with their children about complicated things like death, charity, compassion or how anger is bad for you. But I was taught all this from a very young age…,” the actress tells Gulf News. “And I have tried very hard to pass it to my daughter and hope I am able to do it. I think she is an amazing person with a fabulous sense of humour.
“In fact, all three of us, my mother, daughter and me get along very well. So we spend lots of time together doing nothing. I think in today’s age, everyone is addicted to their phones and are so media savvy all the time that such a simple relationship we share is rare and I am proud of that.”
Focus on women
The film is written and directed by Renuka Shahane who is most famously remembered as the ‘universal Bhabhi’ or sister-in-law from the 1994 family drama, ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!’.
“I think Renuka is one of the finest actors that we have. She is an amazing actor on screen and I am really humbled and privileged to be a part of a film that she has directed,” said Kajol when asked about her working dynamic with the actress. “I know that she is looking at me not just as a director but as an actor as well and it’s a huge test to pass both …. As a director, she was really clear and straightforward in what she wanted …”
Kajol, whose last few films have been Bollywood potboilers such as ‘Dilwale’, with Shah Rukh Khan, ‘VIP 2’ with Dhanush and ‘Tanhaji’ with her husband Ajay Devgn, has taken quite a leap to star in this intergenerational drama about complex relationships. “I like the fact that this film is about three women and also about three different generations …. it touches upon so much especially relationships and how easy and natural it is to screw them up.
“We know that nobody is perfect and it is not only about having your own point of view in life. It’s from everybody’s perspective … And at the same time it shows you the bigger picture that nobody is a villain or intentionally bad … When you will see the film you will understand exactly what it means to be mother and daughter and at the same time have so much friction between them.”
Kajol continued: “I think these relationships are not showcased too often on screen because they are so complex. They are not easy and there is actually so much subtext and layering that it tends to get a little uncomfortable in places. Uncomfortable to watch, uncomfortable to write and even for that matter uncomfortable to understand … it’s something that only very brave and differentiated people can write.”
Don’t miss it!
‘Tribangha: Tedhi Medhi Crazy’ is streaming now on Netflix.