Ratna Pathak Shah is anticipating the day when people would become weary of hatred and move toward optimism. The veteran actor is hopeful that things would change in the current sociopolitical environment, which is a time when the Hindi film industry frequently deals with hatred.
Recent controversy erupted over the song “Besharam Rang” from the Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone movie Pathaan when right-wing groups and BJP ministers claimed the song disrespected the saffron colour, “which is holy for the Hindu community.”
Ratna Pathak Shah spoke about the irony the nation is going through in advance of the January 6 release of her debut Gujarati film Kutch Express: People can express displeasure about someone else’s clothing even when they don’t have food on their plates.
Ratna responded to the question of how it feels to be an artist in a time when what one says or the colour of their clothing becomes an issue of national discussion by saying, “I would say we are living in extremely ridiculous times, if these are the things that are on top of your mind. I’m not interested in talking about it much or giving it much weight.
“However, I’m hoping that India has a lot more sane people than are currently apparent. They will succeed because what is taking place—this feeling of dread and exclusion—cannot continue. I think there is a limit to how long people can tolerate hatred. There is an increase, but you soon become worn out by hatred. I am looking forward to that day.
The Hindi cinema business has endured unrelenting online animosity over the past few years, which has even led to rallies in person.
Hindu right-wing organisations attempted to stage a protest at Bhedaghat, the location of the marble rocks and the picturesque Dhuadhar waterfall in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, days after the release of the Pathaan song “Besharam Rang,” after learning that the movie Dunki, which stars Shah Rukh Khan, was being filmed there.
A lot of social media discussion on movie stars also includes criticism of them as frivolous, portraying the entire industry as an unappealing place to work. Ratna Pathak Shah, an actor who has been in the business for close to four decades, responded that most of the perception is totally contrived when asked if it hurts her.
“I’ve heard these are the talks that are taking place. Without a doubt, there is a devaluation of artists in some peoples’ thoughts, or let’s say, in the minds of the general public. Additionally, there is a lot of outside pressure and stoking the flame to keep some topics raging.
“I strongly believe that such a system of government is not good for any community. For art and craft to reach their greatest potential, a sense of independence is necessary. It is getting more challenging.
Ratna Pathak Shah added, however, that recent Hindi film productions haven’t necessarily been among the genre’s best. The actor believes it may be appropriate to criticise the film industry for its shoddy work, but labelling cinema performers with labels is depressing.
“We haven’t created anything that merits praise in any way. Many of the things we create are dreadful or, at best, average. The amount of work that goes into producing a movie is huge, therefore it’s unfortunate that movies and moviemakers are so easily branded as this or that. A complete waste of time. Do we not have other things to consider?
“Look at our nation; the pandemic has destroyed our nation’s small-scale manufacturing, and yet we stress over who is wearing what clothes?”
Kutch Express, which was directed by Viral Shah, also features Manasi Parekh, Dharmendra Gohil, Darsheel Safary, and Viraff Patel.