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It's all about the character!

“In the old days, you could only play mother’s roles once you’ve crossed a certain age. In fact, most mothers were in their 30s but thankfully, it’s not like that anymore,” she smiles. The actress, who divides her time between theatre and cinema speaks to CS about breaking the barriers of age in Bollywood.


Who: Shernaz Patel
What: On playing roles of substance
Where: At a film club in Vikhroli

Beauty reflects in the eyes
I think the entire world is fascinated by youth. The moment a person has one crease on their forehead, they want to run and erase it. I personally love wrinkles. Every line stands for a life lived. I think when you see so many Bollywood actresses trying to freeze themselves in their 20s, you wonder at their mixed up psychologies and you worry for them. They haven’t come to terms with who they are as they’re trying to hold on to what’s disappeared. On the other hand, you have a fickle society that wants that. Even an 18-year-old gets a botox done and that’s really sad. If there are people in the world for whom beauty is outward, I don’t have much respect for them. Beauty is so much about the individual. It’s your personality, about who you are from within. It reflects in your eyes.

Wrinkles are sexy!
I think men look absolutely sexy with wrinkles. You can see that on a George Clooney, and I love it in women as well. I find a lot of them in the West. Look at Judi Dench or Meryl Streep. You see them ageing so gracefully and they still get work. That’s the problem with Bollywood. Once you cross your 30s and you’re looking for challenging work, you can only get it in independent cinema. I love playing different ages. If someone gave me the chance to play an 85-year-old, I would jump at it. I know many actors who say they can’t do a role because they are not old enough. But look at the role, the character! We’re so scared of getting slotted in this industry. It’s sadly limiting.

That feeling of independence!
It’s lovely to be able to do both cinema and theatre. It’s great fun working in independent cinema. It’s close to my life, which is theatre. For my last film, I went down Hill Road in Bandra and picked up costumes I thought suited my character. You get involved just like you do in theatre. In Bollywood, you’re a cog in the process. This is a collective effort and that’s why I love independent cinema. It’s really addictive. I would go for independent cinema any day. 

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