Soni Razdan makes her digital debut with ZEE5’s Yours Truly. Based on Annie Zaidi’s short story The One That Was Announced, the heartwarming film also stars Aahana Kumra, Pankaj Tripathi and Vinay Pathak.
Yours Truly narrates the story of a 57-year-old woman, at the brink of her retirement, on a journey to find love. The film also has a cameo appearance by Mahesh Bhatt. When asked what took them so long to collaborate on screen, Soni said, “It just happened. These things cannot be planned.”
In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, the 62-year-old actor opened up about Yours Truly, playing the central role and the digital medium.
Excerpts from the conversation:
How did Yours Truly happen to you?
I got a call from Shiladitya Bora (producer) who told me about the film. And then director Sanjoy came down to meet me. I straightforward asked him who would come to see a film about a middle-aged woman. He told me that is precisely why he is making the film cause no one else thinks about telling their stories. That really touched me. And in just about a week, we were on floors.
You were surprised about the fact that a middle-aged woman will be playing a central role but don’t you feel times have changed now? Haven’t people become more accepting?
Yes, it has definitely changed. People are now looking at stories rather than following a set pattern or formulas. And with the growth of the web platform, one can explore all kinds of content. While the Indian digital space is still in the nascent stages, soon it’s going to become a hungry monster. And we would be making so much more shows to keep feeding it. Also, the level of writing and production has really improved and it’s going to be a completely different scenario soon.
While we celebrate such stories being accepted, there is still a section who would frown upon seeing a middle-aged woman talk about her own sexuality on screen.
Yours Truly is not about that and it hasn’t been treated that way. It is a sensitive film about loneliness and finding love and companionship. This woman questions that since everyone has a soulmate, where is the one for her? We haven’t really made it about sexuality or desires. Not just women, but men too will be able to relate to the story due its universal appeal. While the middle-aged would relate to it, the younger audience will definitely enjoy it for its uniqueness.
What do you want the audience to take back from the film?
It’s not a plot-driven film but a journey of a character. I would want them to take those experiences back with them.
With letters playing an important part in the film, there is bound to be comparisons made with Lunch Box.
That’s a completely different story. Lunch Box was also more about a younger woman who is married. There are no similarities.
Tell us more about your experience shooting with Aahana Kumra and Pankaj Tripathi.
Aahana has a very distinct personality that she automatically brings into her scene. She plays my sister in the film and is the perfect foil to my character. She is bubbly, bright and crazy, a complete contrast to my character. It was really fun working with her. As for Pankaj, he is brilliant at his craft. I feel so lucky to work with him. It was incredible and a learning experience.
While the film was being shot, did you ever hope that it will get a theatrical release?
I really don’t know. Though I always felt that it would do better on a web platform. It’s almost an art film, suited more for festivals. Yours Truly is actually a very unusual film.
You starred in one of the first TV serials Buniyaad and recently starred in Love Ka Hai Intezaar. Any plans of coming back to the small screen?
Not really. I did Love Ka Hai Intezaar because it was a very well-made show with a fabulous cast. But I don’t think I will be heading there any soon. I feel digital is a place closer to who I am as a person. With such long working hours, TV is also too difficult to deal with. My next project will also be on the web – The Verdict for ALTBalaji.
Lastly, with so much criticism and hatred coming your way on social media, how do you deal with it?
Honestly, I don’t look at them. Just because people are being nasty, you can stop speaking your mind. One has to decide what they want. I know a lot of people who have gone off social media because you can’t deal with all of it. But social media is a source of information for me. I have subscribed and followed so many journals and magazines. I think one just has to find their own way.
Directed by National award-winning filmmaker Sanjoy Nag, Yours Truly is currently streaming on ZEE5.
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