People don’t have food on their plates but can fuss over clothes, says Ratna Pathak on Bollywood’s ban movement

People don’t have food on their plates but can fuss over clothes, says Ratna Pathak on Bollywood’s ban movement

The actor finds it "silly" that the colour of a dress became a national subject, in reference to Pathaan's song 'Besharam Rang' being criticised in India.
19 Dec, 2022

The movement to ban films has been dominating Bollywood for the last couple of years and the most recent film to fall victim to the campaign is Shah Rukh Khan’s upcoming movie Pathaan. There was a lot of criticism over the song ‘Besharam Rang’ from the ruling BJP and other quarters about the clothing choices and the colour association. Now speaking to the Indian media, actor Ratna Pathak Shah said that she’s waiting for the day when people get “exhausted with hate.”

In an interview with The Indian Express, Pathak was asked about how she feels to be living in a time where a colour of a dress becomes national subject. She said, “I would say we are living in very silly times, if these are the things that are on top of your mind. It isn’t something that I would like to talk about very much or give much credence to.”

Pathak said that she hopes there are “more sensible people in India” than the ones visible at the moment. For her, what’s happening is a “sense of fear, sense of exclusion” that she does not find sustainable. “I feel humans cannot sustain hate beyond a point. There is an uprise, but then you get exhausted with hate. I am waiting for that day to come,” said the Sarabhai vs Sarabhai actor.

When asked about the devaluation of artists in India, Pathak said, “I have heard that these are the conversations that’s happening. There is no doubt that there is a devaluation of artistes in the minds of the common person — or let’s say, in some minds. And that there is much external motivation and fanning the flame to keep certain issues boiling. It is not a good thing for any society to function like that, I feel that very strongly. Art and craft need sense of freedom, in order to achieve their full potential. It is becoming difficult.”

The 65-year-old also noticed that it’s not only Bollywood that’s facing new challenges but entertainment industries all around the world. She said that the Hindi film industry hasn’t produced stuff that deserves praise or accolades and a lot of the stuff being produced is “pretty horrifying or at best mediocre” but finds it saddening when artistes are labelled the wrong way.

“The effort that goes into making a film is enormous and all this easy branding of films and film people as this or that is such a pity. What a waste of time. Don’t we have other things to think about? Look at our country, the pandemic has wiped-out small-scale manufacturing in our country, people don’t have enough to eat, and we are fussing over who is wearing what clothes?” she reasoned.

The boycott train has been chugging around India for years and it seems it’s catching up to some of the country’s biggest stars.

But as we’re seeing in Pathaan, the criticism seems heavily skewed towards a woman’s clothing. The uproar caused by Deepika Padukone’s orange bikini dwarfed all other criticism of Shah Rukh Khan and anything he did. As Pathak said — what a waste of time. Calls for boycotting movies — or actors over the colour of their clothes — make little sense in the grand scheme of things. There are a lot more problems right now than the colour of Deepika’s bikini.