Veteran actor Seema Pahwa says, in an ideal world, age-appropriate casting would have been the norm, but the current system continues to count on “young blood.”
“Our system stops at the box office. We can’t compare ourselves to Hollywood because our country is hugely dependent on the box office. And to win it, they have to emphasise on young, attractive people to pull in youth to theatres,” the actor tells indianexpress.com in an interview.
Pahwa, who has seen a resurgence in fame with recent films like Ankhon Dekhi, Bareilly ki Barfi and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, wants the industry to believe in older actors and write roles for them that allow them to deliver great performances.
“I would want someone to make a film with me as a lead heroine. We have given so many years to this industry, we have worked hard for 50 years to reach here. We want to be cast in great roles so that we can give superlative performances. We want them to believe in us… Still, I am happy that we are here in this time. We have at least gotten noticed.”
The actor’s remarks come as she weighs in on the debate around casting young actors for older roles in Saand Ki Aankh. Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar have taken on the lead roles of Chandro and Prakashi Tomar, two of the oldest sharpshooters in the world, in Tusar Hiranandani’s film.
Ever since the film’s trailer released, there has been criticism against the makers for casting younger actors for the lead characters despite the presence of some of the most talented older actors in the industry.
Pahwa says she sees no wrong in Taapsee and Bhumi’s casting because she believes the film’s director had a reason to choose them. “If you look at it logically, then the character of a certain age should be played by the actor from that age only. (But) what I will say about this is that everyone has their own vision for presenting things. The director of Saand Ki Aankh had a concept in mind. He might have wanted to give a challenge to these girls, and at the end of the day, they are also actresses, no?
— taapsee pannu (@taapsee) October 14, 2019
“If today someone offers me a 16-year-old girl’s character, I will be excited that this will be such a big challenge for me, even if it means they have to show that because of an illness my character’s seeing itself as a 16-year-old. But that will be a challenge for me, right? Similarly, perhaps it’s a challenge for Bhumi and Taapsee that whether they can play old women or not. I don’t think I have the right to say anything unnecessarily out of any jealousy or that I am feeling that how could they cast someone else despite me. I don’t want to be that selfish. We all are actors, all of us have jumped in this field and all of us will have to take up a challenge one day or the other.”
Pahwa, who has worked with Pednekar in Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan and Bala, says people should rather show support for the two actors for taking up the challenge. “Those two girls haven’t made any mistake. They got good roles and they accepted them. Now whether they pass or fail that’s another thing. But at least they tried. For us to talk about it so much right now is wrong.
“Let’s watch the end product. If they aren’t able to do it then we will definitely say, ‘See, we had already said that these roles should have gone to older actors,’ and what if they become successful? What will the critics say then? We should support and encourage those two young actors, saying, ‘Very good! You have the courage that you got wrinkles on your face and whitened your hair.’ Instead of appreciating them, we are criticising them. I think this is wrong. As an actress, I wouldn’t want to criticise any other actress.”