'I was seen as an outsider in Marathi cinema'
Rohini Hattangadi states the reasons behind her decision to stick with parallel cinema and television
She is known to be someone who doesn’t mince words. However, her candidness is unique and very subtle. Rohini Hattangadi, who will be soon seen in a forthcoming Hindi film followed by an appearance in Marathi project, is a joy to talk to. In a frank conversation with us, the veteran actress took a walk down memory lane and shared her thoughts on her long career and the future.
What do you think about Marathi cinema?
Marathi cinema has come a long way from its tamasha days. It all started with Kalat Nakalat long time back and I’m proud to be witnessing so many beautiful films with never-seen-before stories being presented nowadays. And I’m not just talking about offbeat arty films but also commercial ones. It’s a nice change made possible by filmmakers who are ready to test the audience.
But it still faces great challenges vis-à-vis Bollywood?
Of course it will! Hindi film industry has the entire country as the viewers. Compared to it, a regional film has to compete with other regional films to get noticed — via National Awards or film festival recognition — by those who watch Bollywood movies. It’s a tough economical battle and not going to end anytime soon.
So how come you haven’t worked in many Marathi films?
I don’t know. I started with Marathi plays but once I went to National School of Drama and did a few Hindi films, I was seen as someone who was kind of an outsider in regional cinema. Some filmmakers were worried that I’ll charge more than usual! (Laughs)
Talking about your career, do you think Gandhi (1982) worked against you?
(Pauses) When you sit down to pin point the pros and cons, the answer would be yes and no. Yes, because I was portraying an old lady at the age of 27 and I was bound to get stereotyped to play such geriatric roles. On the positive end, I was instantly recognised on the global platform because of BAFTA and also because of the Oscar haul. Besides, I wasn’t glamourous as such to vie for heroine-oriented roles (smiles).
Speaking of Oscars, your comment on Bhanu Athaiya’s decision to donate her award...
It’s her prize. She earned it and she has every right to do whatever she thinks is appropriate. She is a pioneer in fashion designing and it’s a shame on us that she feels there won’t be anyone to look after her award when she’s gone.
And are you still active on the theatre front?
It’s my first love so I don’t think I’ll ever quit the stage. I just took a break for about six months thanks to my bad knee but I’m back now. The play I’m working in currently is based on Kasturba Gandhi and her take on life with her children — devoid of a ‘domestic’ husband to cope with life.
Do you have any regrets in your career?
Not at all! I just take each day as it comes. There’s no hurry as I’m active on television too. If an interesting Hindi script comes my way, I choose to do it. Also, Bollywood films pay you better compare to regional films (laughs).