Story and Content Matter, The Age of Your Character Doesn't: Ekavali Khanna
In an interaction with News18.com, the actor spoke at length about her upcoming film, the “mechanical” nature of Indian middle-class couples and working with Sanjay Mishra among other things. Here are a few excerpts from the interview.
Image: A still from Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain
Having worked in films like Kaun Kitne Pani Main, What Will People Say and Dear Dad, Ekavali Khanna has a host of disparate films to her credit. A mother of two and an actor known to transform as per her roles’ requirements, Ekavali will next be seen in Harish Vyas’ Angrezi Mein Kehte Hai. She quips that because she resides outside the film capital Mumbai, she is paid half, but nothing ever comes in her way of choosing roles that matter nor saying no to work she doesn’t believe in. In an interaction with News18.com, the actor spoke at length about her upcoming film, the “mechanical” nature of Indian middle-class couples and working with Sanjay Mishra among other things. Here are a few excerpts from the interview.
On Angrezi Mein Kehte Hai
“Angrezi Mein Kehte Hai is a very simple story, it is about real people, simple people and their emotions. There’s a taste of Gulzar saab. It’s not dramatic, it’s a genuine story. A lot of people have this notion that this film is about parents, but it’s also about the younger people who should make sure that their parents bond and spend time together. Their parents should not be there just to solve their problems. They need to realize that their parents are also a couple and they should encourage them to spend quality time together. This is the message the film wants to spread that people should be able to express love.”
On The ‘Mechanical’ Nature of Married Couples In India
“In India, love is a youth-centric thing. As opposed to that, in the West, when kids grow up, parents make sure they have a ‘we’ time and people really make efforts to do things together. Yaha wo concept nahi hai, yaha do things together ka matlab hota hai, shaadi mei chale gaye, Diwali ki shopping karli. That is what happens to the common Indian middle-class couples. Unfortunately, they become very mechanical in their existence and social responsibilities. There are only a handful of people who do activities together. You take them for granted, that is not a good thing. The aspirations of a man and woman get dissolved in the daily grind post their marriage. There has to be room for love in everyone’s life which sadly is not very dominant in our country. Indian couples don’t think it’s important to have their own wishes- togetherness and the companionship is restricted to their daily duties.”
On the Shooting Process of Angrezi Mein Kehte Hai
“The process of shooting this film and working on this film was a very intimate affair. My relationship with Sanjay Mishra on screen was dying at multiple levels. It needed to be nurtured, it needed oxygen, it needed a little push to survive. Sometimes when things die slowly, you don’t get to know about it. And when a relationship like this is put on a paper, there’s a lot of scope for introspection, discussion, and workshop. They are in a relationship like that. It’s not the kind of film where people are acting-acting. I was shopping, cooking and doing a lot of other stuff. Our director Harish was very keen that we should bond with the family. In fact, Anshuman and Shivani used to call me didi. It was a lot of hard work but at the same time there was this comfort, a natural comfortable environment where you feel good about the work you do.
On Working With Sanjay Mishra
“Fortunately for me, it was very warm with Mishra ji. Every time I spoke, he listened to me as equals, we were actually collaborating. I am sure that is going to reflect even in our performance. Sometimes there’s hesitation when you work with senior actors, but here I didn’t feel it at all. I always offered my point of view and he heard me patiently. Whenever you are encouraged to do something and you get that pat on your back, you automatically perform better. Mishra ji used to give me positive feedback constantly.”
On Roles Written for Female Actors In Indian Cinema
“There’s a major shift in that. A lot of good and inspired writers are going out of their way to write more characters. These women are not just mothers and sisters now, they are much more. Like in Angrezi Mein Kehte Hai, she is not one of those sorry characters. She is content in her marriage but deep in her heart, she knows she wants more from marriage. She is not the kind of person who is going to ask for anything but she expects it from his life partner. She doesn’t stop loving him in any way, there’s no hatred, but she feels maybe she needs that space now.”
On Her Criteria of Choosing The Right Roles
“As long as there’s enough room to reinvent myself, the number of scenes don’t matter. I'd never say no to a quality script and a good role because of money, but having said that, this is my bread butter, and I am aware of my responsibility as a provider. I am very clear in my own head. There are two things I look at- the content and the quality of people I am collaborating with. This person could be a national award-winning director or someone who will be making their first film. I am open to working with newer people also. I have worked in films with a bigger budget, smaller budget and moderate budget. It’s a matter of chance that I have worked with national award-winning directors. It is the role that matters, the content that matters, the story that matters. How old you play in the film is secondary. As an actor, I just want to transform myself. Bollywood has given me a fair chance of reinventing myself in a world where normally post 30, every actor is typecast. There’s a certain high out of becoming someone you are totally not.”
On Working In Veere Di Wedding
“Angrezi Mein Kehte Hai, Bioscopwala, and Veere Di Wedding- all three characters have excited me and all of them are different characters. There’s a trend of typecasting in Bollywood. I have to keep working towards making sure I don’t fall prey to it. It’s a cameo and it’s a fun character, that’s all I can tell you. It’s a super fun film and a lot different from all the things I have normally done. Shashanka is fun and quirky and he has a different kind of wit.”
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