Bollywood has a new favourite maa, and that’s Seema Pahwa. She is receiving praises for Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Shrt Films’ short film Everything is Fine. In the film, the actress is seen in the role of a housewife, suppressed by her dominating husband, who one day flees to spend a day at her will.
In an interview with IndiaToday.in, Seema Pahwa talked about her character in the short film, the situation of women in general, her upcoming film Gangubai Kathiawadi and working with Irrfan and Rishi Kapoor.
Excerpts from the conversation:
ON EVERYTHING IS FINE AND ASHA, HER CHARACTER
Seema Pahwa says that Everything Is Fine reflects Indian society and how some women have to suppress their desires to fulfil their family members’ wishes. She says, “In Indian society, it is really common to find a woman like Asha (her character’s name in the short film). These women have been conditioned to hide their desires and aspirations, and not share their feelings. The society we are seeing these days, which talks about women’s liberation and women who revolt against the suppression, forms a really small portion of the society.”
About what similarity and differences she sees between Asha and herself, Seema Pahwa said, “I come from a middle-class family and I have seen women like these in my home and around me. So this character was not alien to me and I was able to relate to it. I am an actor and have been acting since my childhood, so it was not like I wouldn’t be able to play a character. But I could relate to Asha.”
While Seema agrees that she is different from Asha to some extent, there are certain similarities too. Especially in their insecurities, something Seema had experienced when she took a break from acting many years ago. She says, “I was able to pursue my aspiration of being an actress, but after having kids I couldn’t continue with it because I had to take care of them. My priorities shifted to my family. At that time, I used to feel a little disheartened. I had done Hum Log and people used to recognise me and ask for my autograph, but then when I stopped acting they started forgetting me. I used to feel bad, and would wonder if I will be able to act again, if will they accept me again? That was the time when you couldn’t share your feelings with anyone. So on this level, I could relate to Asha. But Asha had a different journey and pain.”
ON THE SMOKING SCENE IN EVERYTHING IS FINE
The Bareilly Ki Barfi actress believes that Everything Is Fine is not made with the purpose of asking women to rebel. She adds, “This film doesn’t ask them to rebel or revolt, it just shows Asha’s life and how she feels. What she does to make herself feel special, though just for a day. The film’s message for women like Asha is that they should spare time for themselves once in a while.”
In one scene in the film, Seema’s Asha is shown smoking. On being asked why such a scene was required to show liberation, the actress says, “Cigarette is not a symbol of liberation here. She has not started smoking or has become a smoker. Cigarettes are an essential part of her husband’s life. She steals his cigarette packet to make him realise how it feels when you don’t get what you want. She smokes it in just one scene to see how does it feel. She is fond of boating and shopping, so she is actually seen going boating and buying herself shoes.
ON GANGUBAI KATHIAWADI
Seema Pahwa will be seen in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi. The film stars Alia Bhatt in the lead role. Not revealing much about her role in the film, Seema says, “I’m playing an important and really different role in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi. For a change, I’m not playing a mother in the film. I’m thankful to Sanjay ji for offering me such a role.”
ON THE EVOLUTION OF MOTHER CHARACTERS
The veteran actress is among those artistes in the industry who are known for their comic timing on screen. She has changed the way Bollywood mothers were perceived earlier. Talking about how the representation of mothers has changed in the industry, Seema says, “Earlier, Bollywood films used to be high on tragedy. In those films, a mother used to be a symbol of sacrifice. She would go blind for her kids, would work hard and cry all day. But today, the kind of films that are being made are different. The element of tragedy has reduced. Films are more lighthearted and even the lead actors are not seen weeping and expressing their pain. Since the design of films has changed, the way mothers are represented has also changed. She is shown as an innocent and fun-loving woman now. The use of humour to subtly communicate what they want to say has increased.”
ON IRRFAN CREATING HISTORY IN NSD
An alumna of National School of Acting in Delhi, Seema Pahwa knew Irrfan since his NSD days. The actor died of complications due to colon infection on April 29 in Mumbai. Talking about working with the late actor, Seema says, “I have known him since the National School of Drama days. So we were friends for a very long time. I had worked with Irrfan in a serial, Geeta Rahasya. It was created by Nitish Bharadwaj. I played the role of Devki and Irrfan was Kans. We played siblings. After that, we also worked in another show, Seher. He played my husband in the serial, but left it soon because he got good film offers. We also worked together in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Hum Bombay Nahi Jayenge.”
The actress reveals that Irrfan created history in NSD when he was offered a film role in his second year of school. She says, “I remember watching him deliver spectacular performances at NSD. He was the first student in NSD who got a film offer when he was still in second year of school. He created quite a noise during that time and people used to talk about him.” The film was titled Pita. Irrfan played a pivotal role in the film.
ON RISHI KAPOOR’S LOVE FOR FOOD
Remembering Rishi Kapoor, who breathed his last on April 30, just a day after Irrfan’s demise, Seema Pahwa said that it was a lot of fun working with him. She says, “He used to love eating and feeding others. During lunchtime, he would order lots of food for himself and the crew and would ask everyone to eat.”
Seema’s husband, Manoj Pahwa, played Rishi Kapoor’s younger brother in Anubhav Sinha’s Mulk (2018). She further adds, “After working with my husband, he met us once and told us that he loved working with both of us. We used to meet him at Prithvi Theatre, every year, for the birth anniversary celebration of Shashi Kapoor’s wife. And he was always so warm.”
While many actors are experimenting with technology and creating videos and short films at home, Seema Pahwa says that she wants to spend the time in honing her skills. She is currently reading books and watching international cinema to get better at something she loves.
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