“I grew up backstage”: Ratna Pathak Shah at the Fireside Chat4 min read
MANIPAL: The students of Manipal Academy of Higher Education had a stirring Sunday morning with actress Ratna Pathak Shah at the Fireside Chat organised by The Think Tank, a student-run club of Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), on October 6 at Fortune Inn Valley View.
The programme began with an opening speech from the President of The Think Tank, followed by the lighting of the lamp by the dignitaries. A short message about the ‘Green Initiative’ taken up by the students to reduce the usage of plastic and spread awareness was sent to the audience.
The talk began with the words “to love what you do and do what you love.” Ratna Pathak spoke of how she had burgeoned herself as an actor. She told the audience about her childhood which was mostly spent in the theatre as her mother was an actress herself. She loved seeing what was happening backstage and hence, the magic of theatre and film was lost for her at an early stage as she saw past that and knew how the illusions were created. However, she loved the idea of creation and evolution and wanted to be a part of that herself. That is where it all began for her, though for a very long time she denied the fact that she wanted to be an actor to herself and others.
When asked about what decision she would want to change if she could go back in time, the sterling actress said that she does not want to change but wishes to have decided to take acting more seriously. She asks everybody to think about their actions and contemplate their next step and not go about sharing their ideas with the world. “Eventually whatever you do is what matters than what you say,” she said.
She criticised the awarding system in Bollywood with satirical remarks and also pointed out the politics and corruption behind it. Putting a light on the condition of theatre in India, she explained how theatre needs more exposure and stage to showcase their talent. Highlighting the current state of Bollywood movies and the commercialisation of movies she tells the audience to think about what they are spending their money on.
According to her, though writers nowadays do not portray women as weepers or weak and grieving, there is still some part that will remind us of women being vulnerable or fitting into the old stereotype.
When asked about the evolution of comedy, the actress replied with, “the less said, the better. We have a lot of traditions of comedy in our folk culture which is a very localised and crude kind of comedy which is not taken on board at all.” The actress thinks that Indian comedy culture has not been able to move on. “There is a new forum, a new bunch of people with access to that forum and there is a huge mass of people ready to consume that. I think it is a good time,” she said, expressing her thoughts about the web and the emerging culture of web entertainment.
The audience enjoyed her stories from her famous sitcom ‘Sarabhai vs Sarabhai’. Ratna Pathak compared herself to the character that she played in it which was close to her heart and shared memorable moments with her co-actor who played the role of Monisha Sarabhai.
Shah discussed her journey as Usha Buaji in the much talked about film, ‘Lipstick Under my Burkha’ and how she had to prepare herself for such a contrasting role compared to her other characters. She explains how a 20-minute play which she could not perform well as a milestone that helped her understand and accept her flaws and prepared her for the movie.
The outspoken actor sent some important messages about life, society, and family. She also urged the youth to take steps and make changes and talks about the tragic situation of Aarey Forest.
“Humble, raw, and real. Moderating a talk with Mrs Ratna Pathak Shah is indeed a moment I will forever cherish. Her perspectives on self-motivation, to act on your words, to break the barriers of patriarchy and stereotypes have left me spellbound on how I view my life,” said the master of the event, Ananya Rao.
Featured Image Courtesy: Aditya Mathur
Edited by: Disha Acharya