Tannishtha Chatterjee says even though she has done meaningful cinema which aims to bring about a change, she is still an artiste and not an “activist”. “I feel I am an artiste, not an activist. I am part of different stories through different films and the roles that I play. But I try and bring about a slight change because we grow up with stories which remain in our mind,” Tannishtha told PTI.
The actor says there is a huge onus she feels for herself as an artiste while choosing roles as they can form stereotypes easily. “If we keep hearing stories about a macho man killing people all around right from the childhood, we think that’s what men should do. If we hear different stories, about men and women, we won’t have stereotypes in our minds. As an artiste, that’s the only job that I have.”
Her last Bollywood film “Parched” saw Ajay Devgn backing the movie, but Tannishtha says for her it was not an opportunity to get into the mainstream film industry. “I don’t think doing ‘Parched’ for me was about helping me get into mainstream Bollywood. I feel we did the film because we believed in the story. Since Ajay Devgn produced it, it was easier for us to promote the film.
“It has nothing to do with me as an individual wanting to make it in the mainstream genre, but the collective idea of the film and what it was talking about.” Directed by Leena Yadav, the film also starred Radhika Apte and Surveen Chawla. “Parched” traced the tale of four women who struggle with their individual boundaries to face their demons and stage their own personal war.
Citing the example of the Marathi blockbuster “Sairat”, the 36-year-old actress says cinema shouldn’t be “preachy” but rather subtle on what it wants to convey to the audience. “We shouldn’t ‘teach’ our audience, that’s also dumbing down. We should just create characters which break stereotypes, like ‘Sairat’ did. There was not a single speech which said honour killing is bad, or caste system is bad.
“It just told a story and broke stereotypes in the way gender was portrayed there, the male character was not a hero who fought goons. He was in touch with his feminine side and you love those characters. The moment you start preaching, people will run away.”