Kashmir Indepth

Men don’t age in India: says Pooja Bhatt

By Komal Panchamatia

Mumbai, (PTI) Actor-director Pooja Bhatt believes women start blooming in their forties but somehow they are not represented correctly on the screen whereas men continue to play characters half their age.

Pooja, who is returning to the silver screen after a gap of 18 years with “Sadak 2”, had said goodbye to acting but then it pulled her back.

“I had said bye-bye to acting in a way but once an actor always an actor. Life has got other plans for me. Like I did not want to be an actor, I wanted to be an architect or astronaut and ‘Daddy’ happened and the rest is history.

“I felt I was happy being in the back, launching people like Sunny Leone, repackaging Richa Chadda, John Abraham but life had other plans and it includes ‘Sadak 2’ and a web series,” Pooja told PTI in an interview.

Known for her films such as “Daddy”, “Sadak” and “Zakhm”, Pooja will reprise her role in the sequel of “Sadak”, that marks the return of her filmmaker father Mahesh Bhatt to direction.

Pooja, whose last film as an actor was “Everybody Says I’m Fine” in 2001, will also be seen in a web series based on Abheek Barua’s book called ‘A City of Death’. Set in Kolkata, the story revolves around an alcoholic female cop in her 40s, who is sent to investigate a crime of passion.

“Sadak 2”, Sanjay Dutt and Pooja will be seen playing the older couple while Pooja’s younger sister Alia Bhatt and Aditya Roy Kapur are the young pair.

“I am glad when I am coming back to acting I am getting to play my age,” Pooja said.

“One thing I do not see happening is women of certain age being represented correctly. We have to evolve conceptually. Men don’t age in India. Women who are younger then them are suddenly playing the role of a mother,” she said.

The actor said she also played the role of Ajay Devgn’s mother in 1999 film “Zakhm” because the role demanded it but she would not play the role of a mother just for the sake of it.

As an actor and producer, Pooja said she has always taken risks.

“One woman who I think is great is Vidya Balan, her casting in ‘The Dirty Picture’ was very exciting. Let’s break new grounds, let’s think beyond the usual. Why can’t a woman who plays a mother, also play a lover, or why a lover can’t play a villain?”

Citing the example of American actor-producer Sharon Stone, Pooja, 46, said why can’t writers write about women beyond a certain age.

“Where is India’s Sharon Stone? How come women in Hollywood come to their own, post their 40s? I feel that’s when you actually bloom… Why are men allowed to come to their own at 40s and 50s and women are expected to bury themselves at this age,” she added.

Pooja said, personally, her 40s have been more exciting than her 30s.

“I found my feet in my 40s, got divorced at 40, two years of drinking and then at 42, I became sober. My 30s were the most boring phase. When you are in your 40s, you know your mind, body, you know what you want to do and you are not impressed with the usual bulls**t that the world gives you. You don’t care about people’s opinion and you do what you want to do,” she said.

Pooja is currently promoting her film “Cabaret”, which has been in the making for sometime and was supposed to release in 2016. It got delayed due to her differences with the producers over its release.

“One of our partners wanted to minimise the cost of print and advertising and I was not in agreement with it. We decided to not release it then. The two years time period then seemed difficult, long and dark but the universe was conspiring for us to give it a right platform. At that time if we would have released it in theatres, the film would have come and gone and nobody would have known about it.”

“Cabaret” is streaming on ZEE5 from January 5 and the actor-producer is happy with it’s digital release.

“Our standards keep changing. Cinema hall is a cinema hall but it is not the holy grail anymore. My phone has become my cinema hall and we need to understand and respect this new medium.

“Who dreamt that 20 years ago, there will be digital streaming? It is like a new dawn. I am glad I am a part of it,” she added.

Directed by Kaustav Narayan Niyogi, the film revolves around a bar dancer, played by Richa Chadha.

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