Raveena Tandon, on going from 'Mast Mast' girl to Maatr, and motherhood: Life has come full circle
Raveena Tandon plays a vengeful mother with nothing to lose, in her upcoming film Maatr
There have been a spate of female-oriented films, particularly in the past two months. Swara Bhaskar's Anaarkali of Aarah, Anushka Sharma's Phillauri, Rahul Bose's directorial Poorna, Taapsee Pannu's Naam Shabana, Aparna Sen's Sonata, Vidya Balan's Begum Jaan, Sonakshi Sinha's Noor and Raveena Tandon's Maatr.
While her film Maatr addresses the grave issue of women safety in the country, Raveena beams with joy at the the thought of there being a space for everyone, including senior female actors, and a forum for every issue or a platform for every story in contemporary Hindi cinema.
"It's a great time for Hindi cinema. I am glad that female actors are taking up such issue-oriented or content-oriented cinema despite knowing that they may not fetch the same numbers as say, a Baahubali does," says Raveena, who jests that she has clearly demarcated professional territories with her husband, the popular film distributor Anil Thadani. "While I do all these films with social messages, he keeps distributing blockbusters like Baahubali."
She also looks forward to more of such content-oriented cinema and speaks highly of Sridevi who is also gearing up for her film MOM, the trailer of which suggests a similar storyline to that of Maatr. "I am not aware of the script of MOM. But if it also addresses the same issue then I am glad that amazing actors like her are taking up such films. Sriji is a great friend and I look up to her as everything that a Hindi film heroine epitomises."
As she lists down the films that she turned down over the years for the sake of doing content cinema, a certain Gulaab Gang catches my attention. It is a film that I would envision her in, but Raveena has her share of reasons for walking out of the film.
"Soumik (Sen, the director) is a great friend. We worked on that film for about two and a half years. In fact, it was I who introduced him to Madhuri (Dixit). He offered me the protagonist's role first but I wanted to play the antagonist. But over time, the film changed from how it was narrated to me. So I thought it was the best option to walk away from the film. My role was eventually played by Juhi (Chawla)," says Raveena.
This boom in content cinema has only come about in the last few years but Raveena had the conviction to venture into that zone back in the early 2000s. She went on to win 'critical acclaim' for her performance in Madhur Bhandarkar's political drama Satta and Kalpana Lajmi's social drama Daman: A Victim of Marital Violence.
"The very fact that you remember those films proves that they left a deep imprint on the audience. But today, that audience has expanded. The very fact that the producers are willing to bankroll these films prove that there is enough demand, hence enough supply," says Raveena, who has not completely lost touch of her popcorn entertainer side that gave us memorable performances in a number of David Dhawan films.
She recently reunited with her longtime collaborator Govinda on the stage at the Zee Cine Awards 2017. "We performed just like we used to perform in all our films — just let go of ourselves and enjoy. I think that is why our energy was so infectious," says Raveena, almost breaking into a dance at the very thought of performing with Govinda.
No surprise that Baadshah paid a tribute to her in his incredibly irresistible song, 'Kar Gayi Chul' (Read: matak matak jaise Raveena Tandon). She is currently preoccupied with her reality show Sabse Bada Kalakar and has just wrapped up a film directed by Onir, a familiar name in the parallel cinema circles.
Along with juggling between commercial and alternate cinema, she also has her hands full as a homemaker and mother of four. "I am not so fond of seeing my name in the arclights. I prefer to work at my pace," she says. That was also the case with her in the late 1990s when at the peak of her career and at the tender age of 21, she adopted two girls. "They are not only like my friends now but they also look after my young ones. It feels like life has come full circle."
It is probably from this sense of motherhood, particularly from the conviction of being a single independent mother, that she draws her strength from while playing a Maatr or a mother in her upcoming film. "I beg to differ on that. I did have my parents to support me when I adopted my daughters. Also, let me clarify that Vidya, my character in Maatr, is not a physically strong Sunny Deol-ish character. The circumstances force her to become mentally strong and she uses her schoolteacher mind to do what she does."
The idea behind portraying her as a vulnerable character is to send across a message to all such women who feel physically incapacitated to tackle crime. "The trick is to get mentally strong. Once you achieve that, you have won half the battle," says Raveena, resonating an air of confidence that allows her to effortlessly switch from the 'Mast Mast' girl to an vengeful mother who has little left to lose.
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