Bollywood Actresses Roundtable 2019: Vidya Balan feels Kabir Singh didn't glorify misogyny but had a flawed character

The Bollywood actresses Roundtable episode brings Bhumi Pednekar, Yami Gautam, Alia Bhatt, Vidya Balan and Taapsee Pannu together for a chat with Rajeev Masand.

FP Staff December 23, 2019 13:12:18 IST
Bollywood Actresses Roundtable 2019: Vidya Balan feels Kabir Singh didn't glorify misogyny but had a flawed character

For the second episode of CNN-News18’s year-end Bollywood Roundtable series, five actresses who delivered some of the finest performances of the year assembled for a conversation with host Rajeev Masand.

Bhumi Pednekar (Sonchiriya, Saandh Ki Aankh, Bala), Yami Gautam (Bala), Alia Bhatt (Gully Boy), Vidya Balan (Mission Mangal) and Taapsee Pannu (Badla, Saandh Ki Aankh) weighed in on the craft of immersion, about the need for a sensitive shooting environment and what it feels to be constantly judged and undermined. They also discussed about the highly debated film Kabir Singh at The Actresses Roundtable 2019.

Describe one scene or one moment that pulled you to the script of your respective films

Yami took the lead in the conversation and narrated her experience while portraying a TikTok star in Bala. "As a performer, there was so much in that scene (her monologue before interval) which underlines, in a subtle but definite way, on what all the film was trying to say."

Alia said that there wasn't a particular moment in Gully Boy that defined her decision for the film, but it was the overall feeling that left her with after she heard narration.

Vidya who played a scientist in Mission Mangal, said she found her character to be a wholesome person. She added,"If I had to pick one scene from the film, it has to be where I am telling my son to pray to the power and not the picture. And I think it completely encapsulated the entire believe system. That scene stuck in my head and I wanted to feel it and wanted to feel how I would have done it. That captured the entire essence of the film, the mission, her personality, the story for me."

Taapsee revealed that for Badla,  it felt like a onion peel, because there were so many layers attached to her character. For Bhumi, the interval scene in Saandh Ki Aankh pulled in the film. "The film felt like true tale of sisterhood, celebrating womanhood which is rarely seen."

On biopics and research

With the biopic rage at large currently, Rajeev questioned the actresses on how much research goes down while shooting and getting into the character for the film.

Bhumi and Taapsee who portrayed sexagenarian sharpshooters, Prakashi and Chandro Tomar in Saandh Ki Aankh, said that having them around the set was 'very comforting'. "It wasn't an hindrance for me because I had read about them. I knew about them. Moreover, it broke a lot of stereotype for me on what a 'dadi' is. Because they were funny, progressive and really fun to have around. Shooter Dadis were witty, cool and bad*ss."

Taapsee said, "A hindrance is a hindrance only if you see it like that. But research helps us set boundaries and manavoure our direction in right way."

Vidya who will play mathematician Shakuntala Devi in an upcoming biopic said, "I have read so many videos and read about Shakuntala Devi that now at this point I have got a sense of how she is as a person. I know how she will react, and if the script starts to feel organic and scenes seem natural, I know that's the time to stop research."

Alia who is announced to portray Indian singer Gangubai Hangal Sanjay Leela Bhansali's next film said it depends on how the filmmaker wants you to portray that particular character. "You are director's voice at the end of the day," added Alia.

On Kabir Singh

Shahid's Kabir Singh, a Hindi remake of the Telugu film was surrounded with controversies ever since its release. The film was criticised for endorsing toxic masculinity and violence against women. Steering towards the topic, Rajeev asked them if films are being too casual towards violence against women?

Vidya begun by saying, "It is a film who is telling a story of an individual and not particularly glorifying it. I don't agree with it, I did not like the character. I hated him. It is film and someone is chosen to tell the story.Why are we taking it so seriously?"

Taapsee said that we have become too causal about violence in general. She says, "Unlike Vidya, I did feel the glorification. After I saw Arjun Reddy, and what I saw of it, I didn’t watch Kabir Singh."

Bhumi added that she had watched the original film and not Kabir Singh. "I was entertained at first but then I began questioning myself on it.  It was a flawed character but there has to be some repercussions to that behaviour."

Alia said, "Everyone is entitled to their opinions. But now it has become so convenient to suggest some changes on what how it should have been done. We need to draw a line, come out of a film, if you did not like it, cool. Yes, films can influence you to a certain level but beyond at a point you need to be a good person."

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