Recently, veteran actress of Bollywood Asha Parekh asked why today people are not writing roles for Senior actor women. Asha Parekh, a veteran actor, wonders why senior women actors aren’t getting decent parts at a time when roles are being created for her contemporaries like Amitabh Bachchan.
Why aren’t senior women actresses receiving decent parts at a time when roles are being created for her contemporaries like Amitabh Bachchan, wonders veteran actress Asha Parekh. At a “Maitri: Female First Collective” session, Asha Parekh, 80, and Tanuja, 79, discussed the difficulties experienced by female performers and the changes in the film industry.
“Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, at this age also, people are writing roles for him. Why aren’t people writing roles for us? We should also be getting some roles which are important to the film. (But,) No, that’s not there. Either we are playing mothers, grandmothers or we are playing sisters. Who’s interested (in such roles)? I’m not interested,” Parekh said.
The performer, who has starred in popular films like “Kati Patang,” “Teesri Manzil,” and “Mera Gaon Mera Desh,” also discussed the age difference between heroes and heroines, a problem that still exists, in her opinion. “For women in those days, it was like if they got married, their career was finished. Now, it is not so. So, the heroes may be 50 or 55, they are working with 20-year-olds and that is acceptable till today,” the Dadasaheb Phalke recipient said at the Prime Video event.
Tanuja, the star of films like “Jewel Thief” and “Haathi Mere Saathi,” responded to a query about the industry’s male dominance by saying she always attempted to live by her rules. “These are rules that are created but it is up to us (to decide) what is important… Looking at my own life, I decided that ‘Okay, I am not going to be number one or two but I will make my place in this world’ and I did. I have never broken any rules in my life because I make the rules,” she added.
Tanuja praised the advancements made by women both in and outside of the film business, stressing the necessity for women to put their needs first. When asked if they could demand the same compensation as their male counterparts, Parekh responded that she was not very good at it. “I was very bad with money. My mother used to do that. After my mother and father passed away, I had to take matters into my own hands. Payment was always a problem, previously and even now. It is always the men standing up for the money.”
The two actors also discussed how the sanitation on movie sets was not accommodating to female performers and crew. “We used to feel shy to say that ‘There are no bathrooms’. The studio just had one bathroom for everybody and it was horrible. We used to sit from morning to evening, not going to the bathroom,” Parekh said. “We couldn’t do that (ask for better sanitation). In our time, that was the way we were taught (to not talk about these things),” Tanuja added.
The panel also included producer Deepa De Motwane, “Jubilee” stars Aditi Rao Hydari and Wamiqa Gabbi, and Aparna Purohit, head of India originals at Amazon Prime Video. Smriti Kiran is the curator and founder of “Maitri: Female First Collective.”