When did Indu Sarkar come about?
Last year, I invited Madhur (Bhandarkar, director of Indu Sarkar) for a screening of Pink. I had met him twice before, a couple of years ago, and wanted him to see the film because he makes films with women as the protagonists.
I was very self-assured about the work I’d done in Pink, and felt that I had something to show to everybody who might want to work with me. So, he watched the film and called me the next day to talk about a project. He gave me a brief outline of the story and it had everything and more than what I could have asked for, as a follow-up to my work in Pink.
Did you feel that you had to become very careful about the kind of work you took up after Pink?
When we were shooting the film, I would constantly wonder that ‘yes, we’ve all done good work here, but will people watch this film?’ It was important for me that the industry folks watch it and see my work and something comes of that. Otherwise, it’s another film, another performance, and I’m gone. This had been my experience, time and again, since I joined the industry. Post-Pink, I feel my audience expects more of me, and I don’t want to do roles that I’ve done before.
You play a character who fights against the Emergency in Indu Sarkar. What are your personal political beliefs?
I’ve never been interested in politics. You can call me unaware or disconnected. But I don’t know how much a common man really gets affected by who is in power — I don’t know how much the party at the top affects us. Everyone’s just playing the same game, only the parties change. Over the years, I’ve questioned the authenticity of what we understand is the history of this country.
So, I have no political views. If my work brings me in contact with anything that I requires my attention, I will go into it, which is what I did with Indu Sarkar. I didn’t know about the Emergency. When the film was being narrated to me, I kept asking the writer, “Did it really happen?” I felt like a fool for not knowing. I don’t want to be actor who gets into a project without knowing the “truth” about the subject.
So, who is Indu Sarkar?
She is a poet and writer who fights against the Emergency. She’s an orphan and has a stammer — it’s symbolic in the film, that her voice is suppressed and then she finds it, and India finds her voice against the Emergency.
Did you worry it was a gimmicky device to use in this film?
Well, most of the people won’t even see this connection. For me, it worked. Her stammer was the most important characteristic for me. Just working on that really shaped the role for me.