Sunday January 26, 2020

Veteran Actress Poonam Dhillon Says Age Barrier Is Yet To Be Broken In Bollywood

Now, she will be seen in Sony Entertainment Television's new show "Dil Hi Toh Hai" and in a film helmed by Luv Ranjan.

Poonam began her accidental career with Yash Raj Films
Poonam Dhillon says people have started accepting that today a female plays an equally important role in a film, Wikimedia

Poonam, who began her accidental career with Yash Raj Films’ “Trishul” 40 years ago and went on to feature in 80 to 90 movies, has been having an intermittent brush with showbiz over the past few years.

Now, she will be seen in Sony Entertainment Television’s new show “Dil Hi Toh Hai” and in a film helmed by Luv Ranjan — in both of which she plays a mother, but with different traits.

How does it feel to be back?

“Back? Where did I go,” asked the evergreen actress, breaking into a laughter.

Poonam's last Hindi film was "Ramaiya Vastavaiya"
Poonam will now be seen in Sony Entertainment Television’s new show “Dil Hi Toh Hai” and in a film helmed by Luv Ranjan. Wikimedia

“I’ve been very much around, enjoying doing things at my own pace rather than just working, working and working,” asserted Poonam, whose last Hindi film was “Ramaiya Vastavaiya” five years ago, but she did a Punjabi movie and a play in between.

She feels delighted to see the transition that the Hindi film heroine has undergone.

“People have started accepting that today a female plays an equally important role in a film. At one time, especially during the era of action heroes, women took a bit of a secondary role because heroes were doing most of the action. But look at ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’. It saw Katrina Kaif doing as much action as Salman Khan perhaps.

“Women are given their due, and I think female-centric roles are also well-written. But it doesn’t matter who is in the centre — a male or female. As long as it is an entertaining, gripping film, people just enjoy it. Even if it is a cartoon character in it, they still enjoy it. It’s all about good entertainment,” Poonam said.

She has no complaints as far as her career is concerned, but doesn’t dismiss the fact that after a certain age, there aren’t enough roles for older women and men too.

Poonam feels delighted to see the transition that the Hindi film heroine has undergone.
“I always did things at my own pace,” said Poonam. Wikimedia

” ‘102 Not Out’ (featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor) was an exception. The age barrier still has to be broken in our Hindi films. Internationally, that’s not a barrier. You see a Jane Fonda doing a romantic scene even at 80 or a Meryl Streep in the central role. Various older actors are doing substantial and meaty roles.

“But we (in India) have to accept that a woman 50-plus still has romance in her life. It’s a reality of life that women have romance, traumas, dramas in their life. Very soon we are going to get there,” added Poonam, who is content with how her journey in the “unplanned and unpredictable career” has shaped up.

“This (acting) was not something I wanted to do or thought about doing. Once it happened, I started learning on the job because I was not a trained actor.

“I came in a bit unprepared and raw; so perhaps that’s what people thought was charming about me because I was naive, fresh and I wasn’t a typical wannabe actress… I wasn’t overtly ambitious, or tried to get films by hook or crook. I always did things at my own pace,” said Poonam, who always enjoyed reading, spending time with her family and studying.

Academics have been intrinsic to the life of the mother of two.

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“Three years after joining films, I continued doing my graduation. Then I wanted to do my masters, and recently I got a doctorate through two universities which has been very exciting. I wanted to do my doctorate.

“I got honorary doctorates which made me feel very fulfilled. These are the few things that make you good about what you have achieved, because nobody gives you one if you have not achieved anything in your life.” (IANS)

Next Story

How did Comedians Disappear from Hindi Films?

The term comedian carried as much weight as the phrase hero in Hindi films.

Comedy films
Back in the old times, no films were complete without a dose of comedy. Pixabay


The term comedian carried as much weight as the phrase hero in Hindi films. Almost no films, especially a family drama or even a romantic film, was complete without a healthy dose of comedy. Often, the comedy track had little to do with the main narrative and, if at all, a thin connection was devised to keep it relevant to the story.

Like every lead actor who enjoyed his place under the sun, had his period of glory, so did a comedian. There were leading comedians and then there were gap filler comedians. There were comedians who were superstars in their own right. There were comedians who could be loud and there were those who fitted the bill just in B or C-grade movies; loud and crass mostly. And, there were the suave type who made you laugh while not seen to be making an effort at all.

Not only Hindi, every regional language film had its own star comedian with a following of his own. There were a few female comedienne as well. But, they were given just a few minutes of footage and more than their acts, their very appearance made one laugh. The examples are Manorama or Tun Tun.

Bollywood films
Usually bollywood films were designed to cater to the family audience, the often heavy scripts needed to break away from the narrative and comedy was brought in. Pixabay

Usually, the films were designed to cater to the family audience, the often heavy scripts needed to break away from the narrative and comedy was brought in. This was called comic relief. The length of films being longer compared to the films now, this comic relief helped.

The comedy created its own superstars. But, going back to 1950s and ’60s, of course, there were other comedians but the one who ruled the roost was Johnny Walker. He became so popular that roles were written for him especially while giving him all the liberty to improvise as he thought fit. But, as best of filmstars fade out, so did Johnny Walker.

The other comedian actor was on the horizon: the era of Mehmood was here. While Johnny Walker had a typical style of his own with a shrill voice, Mehmood was more versatile. His career spanned to almost two decades and a film without Mehmood, was unthinkable.

Then there was Kishore Kumar. Again, a multifaceted actor who also produced and directed films, he also went on to become the most sought-after playback singer in the 1970s. Kishore Kumar may now be remembered more for his songs but he, along with his brothers Ashok Kumar and Anup Kumar, are always remembered for their evergreen comedy film, “Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi”.

Mehmood did not stick to comedy alone. He loved to indulge in emotional content. His aspirations to make films the way he wanted them, made him start making his own films, some independently and some in joint ventures with other established production houses. Among his most memorable films are “Padosan” and “Bombay To Goa”, which have proved to be evergreen. Mehmood is also remembered for his triple role of father, son and grandfather in “Humjoli”. His three roles are a take on the Kapoors: Prithviraj, Raj and Randhir. Not to forget his character in “Padosan”, which is etched in the memory even today.

Mehmood became so popular that some of his co-stars, the lead actors, felt insecure and thought Mehmood was hogging the limelight in their films and became reluctant to work with him, forgetting that often it was Mehmood who made their films popular and successful.

Writing scenes for comic situation was a job not many could justify. In the case of Johnny Walker and Mehmood, the written script was just an indicator, it was these comedians who made them clapworthy.

Then came a time when writers came at a premium and the filmmakers who believed that a major star was enough to make and market a film, never thought much about a writer who could give him a solid, tight script. The quality of writing was deteriorating. The scripts were poor, forget writing a track for comic relief.

The actor who did comic roles and stood a class apart at that time was Deven Verma. His expressions were always deadpan and yet he could evoke the laughter among the audience from all, the frontbenchers as well as the balconies. While, Verma was a universal choice for all makers, he remained very popular with filmmakers like Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee and others who preferred subtle comedy the over loud kind that the others delivered.

Deven Verma’s mantle was taken over by Paresh Rawal. Again, a deadpan face and the way he delivered his lines, did the job for him. Irrfan Khan, Boman Irani and Anu Kapoor are such actors in the presentday Hindi film industry. Their films are always looked forward to.

Johnny Lever can safely be called the last comedian who enjoyed, one may say, a connect with the audience.

In earlier films, buffoonery was not part of the routine. The exception was comedian Rajendranath. He usually played the hero’s sidekick and he would be paired with the heroine’s ‘saheli’. He resorted a lot to buffoonery. Vulgarity and double meaning dialogue had yet to invade the filmmaking.

The 1980s saw a flood of South remakes in Hindi. The remakes followed the original where a pack of villains also served as comedians. They were sinister in intent but comic at the same time. These films would have six to seven comic players at the same time, with Kader Khan leading the pack.

Kader Khan, originally a writer who wrote satire skits, specialised in oneliners and repartees, and usually kept the best lines for himself. He was so busy acting in films that he wrote his scripts/dialogue while shooting. He dictated the dialogue on a Dictaphone and had an assistant transcribe them.

Kader Khan films
Kader Khan was so busy acting in films that he wrote his scripts/dialogue while shooting. Wikimedia Commons

The Kader Khan Gang included lesser comic stars like Asrani, Ranjeet, Jankidas and CS Dubey, while Shakti Kapoor and Amjad Khan, Prem Chopra, Jagdeep, and Tej Sapru alternated between villainy and comedy.

There were those limited-footage comedians like Mohan Choti, Paintal, and Jugnu but the one who drew maximum laughter among them was a teetotaller, Keshto Mukherjee, who specialised in playing a drunkard. People lapped up his act. And there was Bhagwan Dada, who was added to a dance number in many films only to repeat the dance steps he did in his own film “Albela” (1951). It so happened that “Albela” was re-released in late 1970s or early ’80s and proved to be a huge success. Still, Bhagwan Dada was financially not secure and some makers added him so that he got work.

Then, there were Satish Shah, Rakesh Bedi, Satish Kaushik, Tiku Talsania, Deven Bhojani, Dilip Joshi, Krushna Abhishek, and Kapil Sharma who went on to do better on the television.

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But soon, this breed of comic stars became extinct. What drew them away? There were no slots for them and, to start with there were no writers who could create side-tracks for them.

Most of all, the lead actors, from top down, had resorted to doing comic roles even while playing the lead. From Amitabh Bachchan to Govinda, and from Anil Kapoor, Ajay Devgn, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar to Ranveer Singh and Ranbir Kapoor, the present lot is more into comedy or comic movies.

They leave no special category for comedians. (IANS)