Kirti Kulhari on being busy in a pandemic year, upcoming film Shaadisthan, and journey of an unapologetic character
Kirti Kulhari opens up on her film Shaadisthan's feminist narrative: 'My character Sasha is leading a very individual, personal fight. A fight to exist, exist the way you want to.'
Filmmaker Raj Singh Choudhary, with his upcoming film Shaadistan, is on a journey to spin a feminist tale. According to the trailer, the film features three generations of women, their individual personal struggles with society at large, and how their stories merge to send across a strong message. We see an unapologetic singer Sasha (played by Kirti Kulhari), a weary housewife (Nivedita Bhattacharya), and her 18-year-old teenage daughter (Medha Shankar) who is on run from her family.
Things get intense when Sasha and her band of nonconformist musicians take a road trip with the other two women. The journey leads to a clash of ideologies and beliefs, ultimately landing with a dramatic denouement.
However, Kulhari, in an interview with Firstpost, affirms that her character is a catalyst rather than the main subject of the film. "My character is most certainly a catalyst which leads to the understanding of the situation, and it so is this forceful engagement ceremony of the 18-year-old girl Arshi. My role helps all to understand the situation from a different perspective, aids in resolving the circumstances. And with that, you will see a certain resolution coming across for all these characters who have taken this journey together."
"I believe it was meant to be through Sasha. This resolution. Because for me, she represents freedom. She has found herself, she lives her own truth, and on her own terms. When your understanding and wisdom for life comes from your own experiences, and is not borrowed from others, it reflects onto another level, and that is what Sasha represents. Every time you talk to her, she will provide a perspective that is different from what is generally said or heard. And that is why Sasha is the voice of freedom, of being your own person. And I genuinely feel that is the voice most of us miss on having in our lives."
A particular scene in the trailer does reflect how free and defying Sasha could be, unafraid to say and do things. Here, the scene sees Sasha in a conversation with Arshi's mother (Bhattacharya), proclaiming how important it is for women to put up a fight. She says, "Hum jaisi auratein ladti hai taaki aap jaisi auratein apni duniya mein na lade." However, if taken out of context, the dialogue may come across as a bit problematic. When I ask Kulhari if the film is trying to create distinctions between women, between tradition and modernity, she clarifies that it was a very simple conversation about fighting to bring a change.
"Our society works a certain way, like we all are a product of certain conditioning. The term such as 'aise he chalta hai,' is nothing but conditioning on how to live our own lives. So when Sasha says that people like us fight, so that others who don't have the strength or the luxury, who are even not given the space to fight for themselves, she wants them to get inspired, understand that their life is a bit easier because somebody fought for that freedom.
It is just like any cause, all of us believe in certain principles, and then are some people who chose to take lead and carry forward those values.
Sasha, for the person who she is, is talking about a very individual, personal fight. A fight to exist, exist the way you want to and that is all she's referring to here."
Choudhary earlier had said that Shaadisthan is inspired by a story from his own life. When asked if Kulhari too tried to draw inspiration from her own experiences to build Sasha, she asserts certain comparisons could surely be made.
"I feel Sasha has found herself a very strong foothold, she leads this boy band, she's definitely someone who's not looking for validation from outside. Sasha is very comfortable in her own skin, she's very confident, grounded, and is a leader. She's not trying to find herself, and she's so much more than that. So when I say I can draw a comparison, I believe I have most certainly found myself to a great extent. Yes, there's some more work to do, which is happening. But in terms of playing this singer, it was challenging, and perhaps that is why I wanted to do it."
"It was fascinating to be this person. Be on stage, perform, to live a life like that. It was extremely fascinating and enjoyable for me. And the boys in my band in the film, are real-life musicians, so they really helped me to build this character and get the nuances right. It also took a lot of work to get Sasha right, you know, in terms of uncovering all of her layers. But at the end of the day, Sasha is someone I would love to be."
Kulhari had a busy 2020 for a year that was ravaged by pandemic and had bought life to a standstill. She had back-to-back projects coming in, right from the second season of Four More Shots, Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors, The Girl On The Train, and now Shaadistan. Kulhari says she is extremely grateful for this busy year. "I feel extremely blessed and grateful because in a year where people are struggling with work, life is at a standstill, but having my work being showcased and leaving a mark, it's a different feeling."
"I think I am looking forward to doing more work which interests, excites me, keeps me on my toes, and represent different people, different sections of society. I hope to leave my audiences with something that they could connect, relate, reflect on, perhaps something that leads to this world becoming a better place. That's the kind of work I believe in, and that is what I would want to do more."
Shaadisthan will stream on Disney+ Hotstar Multiplex from 11 June.
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