Interview Hindi

Raveena Tandon: I am playing a role with grey shades for the first time

The actress explains why she waited 17 years to do Shab, and also shares her thoughts on the constant trolling on social media.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Keyur Seta

Actress Raveena Tandon made a comeback earlier this year with Maatr: The Mother. The film did not do well at the box office. Now, she has another film lined up — director Onir’s Shab.

Not many know that Onir wrote the script for this film 17 years ago. At the time, he was working as an editor on Tandon's Daman (2001). It is only now that he has succeeded in turning the script into a film.

In a brief conversation, Raveena Tandon explained why she did this film and also spoke out against the menace of trolls on social media. Excerpts:

Onir wrote Shab 17 years ago. But the film has only been made now. It has been a long wait for him.

We had planned to do this film long ago. But something or the other kept happening. Then I took a sabbatical. After that I realized I didn’t want to do this film. So, Onir also didn’t make it. Then, eventually, he asked again whether I was ready to work on the film. I said yes, let’s do it. So we just went ahead.

What excited you about this script that you were ready to do it after 17 years?

You know, my role is very different. It has negative shades. This is something I have never played before. This is the reason. Besides, I always wanted to work with Onir.

You had once said that you wish to do a negative role. Is Shab such a role?

No, it’s not. I am still waiting for that. But it definitely has shades of grey.

There were reports that you rejected a number of roles in recent years, including a negative role.

Of all the films I was offered, including Gulaab Gang (2014), I was waiting for something like Maatr. They were all good films and they did well. But for my return after a long time, I wanted to do something that had a social message. I wanted to do a message-oriented film in which I believed strongly, so that I could do it with conviction.

From the promos, it seems Shab revolves around the fashion industry.

Well, it’s not only about the fashion industry. It talks about a lot of aspects, like how a small-town boy comes into this big city and tries to make it big. It’s about the struggles people have to go through, whether it is the fashion world or any kind of glamour world. The film also talks about relationships, how they are beautiful but at the same time complicated. It’s how people deal with it and use each other in relationships. 

You seem to be more interested in content-driven cinema now.

Yes, I am, mostly. But after Shab and Maatr, I am looking forward to a good comedy film. I wish to do some masti now. Kitna rula diya logon ne [They made me cry a lot].

Recently, a tweet of yours about the sari created an uproar. How do you deal with such trolling?

Everything has become so politicized. Hey bhagwan! If I say something, they will say I am putting in my agenda. You can’t even say ‘oh my god’ these days. This is something I just said using one sari as an example, which was blown out of proportion. If I say ‘namaste’, they will say, why can’t she say hi or hello? I can’t understand. Anything in your behaviour is questioned. I read a few tweets asking why Priyanka [Chopra] was sitting folding her legs in front of the PM. So, how else could she have sat? Please teach us what we can do, wear, whom we should talk to.

Actresses are facing a lot of flak these days. Like Fatima Sana Shaikh recently.

Yes, people keep commenting on how you should and should not dress. Well, meri marzi [my wish]!

Surprisingly, actors never face this.

Exactly! This is what I feel. We should be going towards a progressive new India. We should be open-minded. Why is everyone getting labelled, was exactly my question [recently on Twitter]. If you wear a short skirt, you are labelled something. Recently, when I put out a tweet saying I liked something about the Ramayan, someone said, ‘You are communal.’ I was asked, why are you trying to become this? Where am I trying to become anything? I am just saying what I thought was a nice article and tweeted it. That’s all I did! What was wrong? Now, for any simple thing also you are labelled. That was my question, why is this labelling happening for everything you believe in today?

And who are you to shame me for what I believe in? Who are you to shame Priyanka for what she wants to wear? It is her decision. And she carried herself beautifully. Who are you to shame Fatima for what she wants to do on her holiday? It is her freedom. Last I knew, we lived in a secular country where everybody were allowed to practise their faith, beliefs and be and say what they wanted to. But it looks like today you just can’t. It’s sad. Social media has become very politicized.

Are you happy with this new innings of yours?

I have had so many innings that I have stopped counting (laughs). But yes, god has been kind and I would like to thank my well-wishers and fans for the love and appreciation. This is why I am here today. Without that, we are nothing.