Soni Razdan has always been trying — to push herself as an actor, make her space in the industry and to carve an identity independent of being the wife of a famous filmmaker and mother of a superstar.
The actor made her debut with critically acclaimed 36 Chowringhee Lane and went on to feature in films like Mandi and Saaransh in the later years.
In 1986, she got married to Mahesh Bhatt, and even though she continued to work, Razdan still struggles to be known more than just someone’s wife or mother.
“I have always been known as Mahesh Bhatt’s wife and I would tell people ‘hello! I’m here!’ This has always been a struggle. I would like to be known for who I am. I’m very happy to be known as Mahesh Bhatt’s wife or Alia’s mother. But I am also a person, who in her own right, has gone through quite a lot of odds,” she says.
In an interview to PTI, the 62-year-old actor shares that every time she’s on sets and working, she experiences “euphoria.”
“But it’s not like I’m setting out to endeavour to be anything. I’m just being me. This is who I am and I don’t think why I shouldn’t be what I am.”
Razdan, whose last big release was Raazi, said after the success of the film, in which she played mother to her real-life daughter Alia, she was hopeful of getting more roles.
“But it hasn’t, not at all. It really hasn’t. I’m still waiting for it,” she says.
Razdan can’t pin-point why the industry isn’t offering her varied roles.
“People should see my work and think beyond what I am on daily basis, on Twitter, Instagram or the perception they have of me in their heads.
“People are lazy when they cast. It’s natural to think of the most obvious fit to your character. I think they should start looking at me differently. I’ve been able to put myself in different roles completely opposite to what I’m in real life.”
She found one such filmmaker in director Sanjoy Nag who cast her as the lead in Yours Truly, a film about love and loneliness.
The film, streaming on ZEE5, puts Razdan in the spotlight as a woman who, at the brink of her retirement, realises what she will miss the most in her daily commute to work: the voice of the railway station announcer, her invisible but constant companion.
“It is unreal. It’s not what you expect at this age. I feel blessed that I was able to do this.”
Yours Truly, based on Annie Zaidi’s short story The One That Was Announced, nips the ageist stereotype around the idea of love.
“The entertainment industry is always targeted at young people. Understandably so as they are the key consumers. The young are the ones who are falling in love, starting out in life, older people aren’t. Nobody thinks ‘now I’m going to write a film about an older person,” she says.
But the actor isn’t pessimistic. The current trend in Bollywood of willing to experiment with newer and braver ideas has ignited hope.
“What is happening is that people are thinking of stories which are about characters, as opposed to typical boy meets girl template. This trend has happened because the audience wants a change. They are interested in watching the story of a rapper from a gully. Otherwise the film industry is notoriously lazy in telling different stories.”
With Raazi, No Fathers In Kashmir and now Yours Truly, Razdan is happy with what she has been able to do. But the desire to be in front of the camera has only become stronger.
“There is always a desire to be significant in some way, to do something which can consume you. As an actor, all you want is to be offered a film so you can go out and shoot. It’s the same for me. To get that role which hits you. I want to work, I just don’t want to stay at home.”