Bollywood Actresses Roundtable 2020: Shabana Azmi, Deepika Padukone, Taapsee Pannu weigh on the role of art in difficult times

The Bollywood actresses Roundtable 2020 episode brings Shabana Azmi, Taapsee Pannu, Tillotama Shome, Deepika Padukone, Rasika Dugal, Kiara Advani, Janhvi Kapoor & Tripti Dimri together for a chat with Rajeev Masand.

FP Staff December 07, 2020 16:17:03 IST
Bollywood Actresses Roundtable 2020: Shabana Azmi, Deepika Padukone, Taapsee Pannu weigh on the role of art in difficult times

In the first of Rajeev Masand's year-end Bollywood Roundtable series, five actresses who delivered some of the strongest performances of the year assembled (virtually) for a freewheeling conversation. Shabana Azmi (Kaali Khuhi), Deepika Padukone (Chhapaak), Taapsee Pannu (Thappad), Rasika Dugal (Mirzapur 2), Janhvi Kapoor (Gunjan Saxena), Tillotama Shome (Sir), Kiara Advani (Guilty) and Tripti  Dimri (Bulbbul) spoke about their learnings during the lockdown, the role of art in the difficult times and reveal the best piece of acting they’ve seen this year.

Watch the video interview here

On reflecting on art and learnings during the difficult times

2020 has been a stressful year for the entertainment industry. Cinemas were shut. The festivals were virtual. The blockbusters were screened on our tiny rectangular screens. Masand began the interview with a thoughtful note and asked the actresses to reflect on what art and their job meant to them during the lockdown.

Azmi said the lockdown gave her time to introspect, appreciate the present and question her values. She adds, "I was very grateful as the world realised that the only entertainment they could get is through artists and that made me feel that I must do my work with renewed vigour."

Pannu said she appreciated the time-out and the little break she got due to the lockdown.

Dugal said she understood it was important to express gratitude amidst difficult times. She explained that there were a lot of positive things especially with civil society initiatives happening around her which reinstated her faith in humanity.

Padukone backed Dugal's statement and expressed gratitude to the frontline workers. She said lockdown aided many to ground themselves and bought to basics.

Dimri said she's learnt to live in the moment and appreciate the now and important things of life.

Shome regaled a personal story and said she dealt with anxiety attacks for the first time in her life during the pandemic. "One of my key learnings was to stay away from the online toxic world because I found so much love, courage and kindness offline."

Advani said she went through a gamut of emotions during the lockdown. She said she feels blessed every single day to be alive and would continue to help in whichever way to the best of her abilities.

Kapoor said she did not anticipate being away from film sets for so long. She added that even though she missed working, it made her realise how dependent she was on her art.

On how and if the role you played this year change you in any way?

Pannu recited a dialogue from her film Thappad, "Sahi karne ka result hamesha happy nahi hota" and said this is the learning she took home this year.

Azmi said when she inhibited the world of Satya Masi in Netflix original Kaali Khuhi, she almost had an intellectual and emotional response to it. She adds how she has closely dealt with the problem of female feticide during her time as a parliamentary member but to play the guilt-ridden and vulnerable Satya Masi was an experience altogether.

Padukone, who portrayed an acid attack survivor in Chhapaak, said she learnt about the emotional and practical challenges for her role in the film. She concluded by adding on how she hopes to see more inclusivity in the coming years.

Kapoor played the role of Gunjan Saxena, the first woman to join the Indian Air Force as a pilot at the young age of 24, and serve in the '99 Kargil war. Kapoor said the biggest takeaway from her interactions with Saxena was learning the importance of self-belief.

Shome, who plays a domestic worker entangled in a romance with her employer, stars in Rohena Gera's award-winning feature, Sir. Shome admitted discovering that she too holds onto some class divide values while filming for Sir. "It broke my heart. I know equality doesn't exist but it broke my heart on finding that it was so deeply ingrained in me."

On the best piece of acting, they have seen this year

Azmi: "Definitely Pratik Gandhi in Scam 1992. It was an incredible performance, definitely felt like a star is born moment."

Dugal: "I think Jaideep Ahlawat in Paatal Lok."

Padukone: "I am not getting into any specific performances but I feel the best work certainly came more from the OTT than the feature films. So for me, it is between Delhi Crime and Paatal Lok.

Pannu: "Delhi Crime stayed with me for a long time. But also Irrfan Sir from Angrezi Medium because I remember crying during his performance"

Dimri: "I think Jaideep Ahlawat was wonderful in Paatal Lok. And the other actor is Tanya Maniktala from A Suitable Boy. I think she has the most wonderful and expressive eyes I have ever seen."

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