Actor Shweta Tripathi’s film Gone Kesh is not only meant for entertainment but also informs the audience about a rare condition or disease called alopecia. Shweta has done remarkable roles in films like Masaan and Haramkhor and has even made a mark in the web space with shows like The Trip and Mirzapur. In an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com, Shweta speaks about her experience of working on Gone Kesh.
Here are some excerpts from the conversation:
What was your first reaction to Gone Kesh?
When I got to know the story of Gone Kesh, I just knew I had to be a part of it. My character Enakshi is a regular girl who has a very simple life. But everything goes for a toss when she and her family realise that she has this condition called alopecia. It is a condition where you lose a chunk of your hair, which may or may not come back. The sad thing is there is no cure to this disease/condition. So, Enakshi’s world changes. She doesn’t want to step out because wherever she goes she becomes the butt of jokes.
Gone Kesh is also about relationships. It is dealing with a serious topic but the treatment is not serious. It is a slice-of-life film about family, girls and their dreams and aspirations.
You spoke about Enakshi becoming the butt of jokes and being bullied for looking different. It happens in real life too. What do you have to say about that?
You know we have an image of a bully. We think bully is someone who dominates and is aggressive. However, while playing Enakshi, I realised that even a small joke that you crack on somebody is also a form of bullying because you are breaking that person’s confidence. I think as a society we need to be a little sensitive and supportive of each other. And who doesn’t have faults? What is perfect anyway? I think the concept of perfect has been skewed and used very conveniently. Even the word beauty… what is beautiful? So, it is high time we change the concept. Beauty should be how you see yourself.
Was it a challenge to play Enakshi?
For me, it is very important to differentiate all my characters from each other. So, it is a challenge when you play a character that is completely different from your own self. But the bigger challenge was that because we were dealing with a topic like this, there was a lot of responsibility. I did not want people suffering from the condition to feel we have used it as a gimmick or have represented it in an insensitive way.
Thankfully, after the trailer released, I received photos and messages from people on Instagram showing their scalp, which was very overwhelming. This is why I am an actor. I love telling stories and living their life on the screen. If they resonate with it, nothing makes me happier.
Did you meet people suffering from alopecia?
I did meet people before the film but after the film, people are coming to me. Earlier, I was looking for people to understand the character better. Now, people walk up to me and I do not know how to react to it. Hats off to people who deal with it and have courage. I don’t think I would have dealt with life like Enakshi. I don’t think I would have guts as it takes a lot of guts to accept yourself but it is definitely possible.
Actors have this pressure to always look their best. However, what if you suffered from alopecia or a similar condition?
Hair loss is something we all have gone through. Practically, we all have been like “arre yaar… shampoo me baal bohot girgaye” (I am losing hair while shampooing). It has happened to everybody. All these vanities we have. There is a lot of importance given to how we look. Actors are responsible in a way. You are responsible for the projects you take up and the brands you endorse. This is why I will never endorse a fairness cream.
And yes, as an actor, we are supposed to look or behave a certain way but I do not agree. We are also humans after all. And artistes, I believe are more emotional. Our job is very emotional and psychological. When people add physical pressure on it, I am sorry I will be how I want to be. Our energy should be used to bring positive changes than to think and obsess about who is wearing what.
Are you trying to redefine the meaning of beauty with this film?
In a way, yes. I would love it if that happens. If even five women come up and say – I don’t care what society thinks, I will be who I am. I don’t have to colour my hair or wear a wig. If that happens, I will be the happiest.
With the acceptance of all kinds of films, how do you feel as an actor?
I think it is a great time to be a part of the industry. If this film had come in the 90s, I don’t think it would have been accepted. So, be it digital medium, feature, short film or even audio, it is a great change and time for actors, writers and directors. Today, there is a huge scope to experiment and explore. As an actor, it is always fun to do characters that are different.
This story is also about being a dreamer. As an actor, what is your ultimate dream?
You very rightly said that the film is about dreams, aspirations and hope. As an actor, I feel fortunate because maybe I can reach out to more people and make them understand that it is their right to believe in themselves and achieve their dreams. I want to work with the best directors we have, irrespective of the industry or language. I don’t want a language to restrict my storytelling. I have done a Tamil film, I want to do Bengali films and want to work with international directors. I want to go to film festivals around the world.
Gone Kesh is directed and written by Qasim Khallow. The film hit screens today.