Quality over quantity

Quality over quantity

Pallavi Joshi hates spoon-feeding her audience. "That's what we love to do in our films and in our television shows nowadays. You downgrade your audience's mentality. You talk down to them, grossly undervaluing their intelligence. Which is why you need to explain every single thing that you put out on the screen. And not once, thrice, mind you!" laughs the actor-producer. That is the reason we don't see her too often on the screen nowadays. "I think I have had my fair share of the limelight but being part of something that requires us to spoon-feed our audience is not for me," she adds.

In a short film

But then a film like Pressure Cooker comes along and she gives it her nod. "When Heena came over with her script to meet me, it was a very unusual narration, I must admit. She wrapped it up within minutes," says Pallavi. "So, I asked her if that was all and she nodded. I loved the fact that there were no endless explanations. The subtext was strong and it left me smiling. I found the simile between the husband and the pressure cooker really sweet. It was almost like a tedha-hai-par-mera-hai feel (he's twisted but he's mine), you know," she adds, laughing, alluding to the famous advertising line of a popular snack brand. Directed by Heena D'Souza and written by Paavni Wadhwan, Pressure Cooker went on to get shortlisted for the Jio Filmfare Short Films Award 2018.

The short film deals with the crisis of a middle-aged woman, Swati, played by Pallavi, who seems to have had enough of her monotonous lifestyle. Her frustration is depicted through the pressure cooker in her kitchen that she so desperately wants to change. But, is the promise that change brings along really what she wants? "When you hit your 40s, a new sort of realisation sets in. However much you are frustrated in your relationship, there is a certain sense of comfort in it," says Pallavi.

"A female friend got divorced in her mid-40s and while I was gently coaxing her into moving on and trying a new relationship, she vehemently refused to. She said that she didn't have the energy anymore to build a new bond with all the trappings it brings along - dress well for him, do things to please him, keep thinking about the wonderful things you can do together. She told me that she didn't have the patience anymore for any of it, and had she thought of this earlier, she wouldn't have divorced her hubby at all," guffaws Pallavi. She adds that that's the sense you get with Pressure Cooker too.

A lot of people often question Pallavi's decision to break away from the film and television industry after becoming a mother, almost 18 years ago. A National Award winner for the 1994 film Woh Chokri, she had given her best in films such as Rita and The Making Of The Mahatma, and acted in path-breaking TV serials such as Aarohan (also written and produced by her), Alpviram and Imtihaan. "My question to them is that why can't I be a mother when I want to? I wasn't getting roles that would challenge me. I was either doing films where I was asked to play a deranged/physically challenged person which required 'acting, madam acting,'" she says, dramatically, "or roles where I was asked to deliberately look unkempt so that it felt like parallel cinema. And I was for neither. Instead, I thought it made more sense to take care of my children. Now, when Mallika walks into the sets or the studio to assist us, people talk about how confident she is at that young an age, and it makes me very happy," Pallavi says, speaking about her 18-year-old daughter. Her husband, film-maker Vivek Agnihotri, and she also have a son.

Upcoming call

Currently, Pallavi is busy playing the role of an old historian in her upcoming film Tashkent Files that is written and directed by Vivek and produced by her. The film looks into the sudden and mysterious death of our second prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, in Tashkent.

"The story begins with a journalist who starts researching about the flow of events around his death and I step in as a historian of those times. We are delighted to have a wonderful cast of Naseeruddin Shah, Mandira Bedi, Mithun Chakraborty, Vinay Pathak, among several others," she says. Tashkent Files will release in the first week of March and expects to do the festival circuit before releasing in theatres in India.

The digital medium too holds a great deal of promise, she feels, having done public service shorts on GST and the surgical strikes earlier. However, television seems a distant dream currently. "Nobody is interested in making the kind of shows we did earlier anymore. There are simply no takers. I understand there is a need for unique shows but we need some place to air them, right? Hopefully, if someone is open to a finite show, I would love to do it again," she smiles.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry