'Acting is no longer about creativity'

Master class

I was only 22-23 years-old when I played Badki’s character. But till today, it has been one of the strongest roles I have essayed as my personality changed after that,” says seasoned actor Seema Bhargava Pahwa about her character in Hum Log, Indian television’s first soap opera.

The artiste adds she had no idea about the many problems people, especially women, faced in the country when she started playing the character. “But when women started approaching me and sharing their problems after relating to Badki’s character, I realised the importance of my dialogues and the strength and reach of my character, and also television,” she tells Metrolife.

Pahwa, whose tryst with acting began in 1968 as a child artiste in a show titled Samjhouta, says those were the days of live telecast and there was no scope for making mistakes. “If you go wrong somewhere, you had to start shooting from the beginning; there was no concept of cuts. We used to rehearse our roles for a month, have camera rehearsals for three to four days, and only then did we begin shooting,” she explains.

Pahwa continues that soon the concept of editing was introduced with the advent of technology, and adds that while it helped in many ways, actors stopped working hard.

“The quality of work deteriorated as actors got to know that all their mistakes could be fixed now. There came about a change; earlier we had pressure to work without mistakes, be absolutely thorough with our scenes, dialogues and even camera placement... not anymore,” she says.

Taking a pause, Pahwa, who will soon be performing in Bhishmotsav, a play which she has also directed, says “acting has become mere puppetry; it is no longer about creativity and has become a business, a game of TRPs”.

Talking about the theatrical production, Pahwa says the 145-minute play brings together Oob, Sir Ka Sadka, Dholak, Yaadein, and Samadhi Bhai Ramsingh  — five short stories written by legendary Indian writer Bhisham Sahni. And sharing the reason behind choosing these stories, Pahwa says she felt the need to create awareness about Indian literature and writers.

“We have such big writers in Hindi literature, but have little or no idea about them. The Western influence is so huge that we all are willing to read (William) Shakespeare, but do not even know about Munshi Premchand. I thought I need to take our stories to people. I’ll feel I have achieved my dream if, from an audience of 500 even 25 go and buy the books,” she says.

Adding that she will be playing a role in Yaadein along with Ratna Pathak Shah, the artiste who has also acted in movies like Zubeida, Ferrari Ki Sawaari, and more-recently Dum Laga Ke Haisha, says she has tried to highlight various moods through the five stories which will be presented in the format of story narration, where a narrator reads out the story as characters keep coming in.

Bhishmotsav, presented by Old World Culture, will be staged at NCUI Auditorium, 3, August Kranti Marg (20 May); Epicentre, Gurgaon (May 21 and 22).

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