EXCLUSIVE | My film on marital rape, Daman, 23 years ago, shook India like Nirbhaya, but Padma didn’t come: Raveena Tandon 

| Updated: 14 May, 2023 10:08 pm IST

In a candid interview with Rohan Dua, Bollywood actress Raveena Tandon opens up about her life choices, including adoption and marriage, her views on sensuality in her iconic songs, and her aspirations for her children. Join us as she shares her unique journey and reflects on her remarkable career.

 

Rohan Dua: What an absorbing career you have had over the last 30 years! Also, congratulations on receiving the Padma Shri. From Ravishing Raveena to Padma Shri Raveena. Which of these achievements is more gratifying to you?

Raveena Tandon: Ravishing Raveena is something that will always stay with me, and she has been a part of my journey for the past 32 years. Now, being recognized as a Padma Shri Awardee, Raveena, feels like the cherry on top. It’s a wonderful acknowledgement of the entire body of work that I have dedicated myself to over all these years.

Rohan Dua: You have been a strong voice from civil society, always prioritizing your country. Simultaneously, you been a doting mother, a wildlife photographer, a successful entertainer who did both mainstream entertainment films and also gave us many memorable roles that empowered women. Among all the roles you have played in real and reel life, which aspect of your life do you believe contributed to you being honored with the Padma Shri?

Raveena Tandon: I’ve been in the industry for a long time, and it was surprising to many that I hadn’t received this award yet. I believe it’s the culmination of all the socially relevant films I’ve been a part of over the years. One such film was ‘Daman’ in 2000, when marital rape was hardly discussed. Laws have their pros and cons, and sometimes they can be misused. However, we need these laws to protect our women.

I also worked on the film ‘Matr’ which tackled the issue of rape, and then the tragic incident of Nirbhaya shook the nation. Public memory is short, and through art, we need to remind them about these important issues. ‘Daman’ was ahead of its time, and now, after 23 years, I did ‘Aranyak,’ shedding light on the challenges faced by women in uniform.

Another film of mine, ‘Jaago,’ dealt with corruption in our bureaucratic system. Most recently, ‘Aranayak’ highlighted the sacrifices made by women in uniform, who are expected to shoulder all responsibilities at home, hindering their career growth despite their competence.

So, receiving the Padma Shri is the result of my constant effort to bring socially relevant issues to the screen. It’s a collective achievement and a recognition of the importance of addressing these topics.

Rohan Dua: From a bubbly girl to sari-clad woman, from comic-capers to doing serious mature roles. You made these bold decisions in your career very early on. Why when many other actor would have chosen glamour?

Raveen Tandon: That was a conscious effort, to be honest. There was a time when it was very easy for actors to be stereotyped. Nowadays, new actors have the opportunity to explore experimental roles early in their careers. Breaking free from the shackles of being typecast as a fun-loving girl or limited to comedy roles was crucial for me. I wanted to challenge myself as an actor.

In 1999, I made a deliberate effort to take on films like “Ghulam-e-Mustafa,” “Aks,” “Shool,” and “Satta.” I managed to succeed in those endeavors and gained acceptance. I was one of the very few heroines, perhaps the only one, who had films like “Dulhe Raja” releasing in one theater and then “Shool” in another. It was a stark contrast with roles like “Akhiyo Se Goli Maarein” and “Satta.”

Since then, I have continued to pursue contrasting roles, including my recent projects like “Aranyak” and “KGF.” These characters are completely different from each other.

Rohan Dua: So, where will you place the Padma Shri in the pecking order of things. 

Raveena Tandon: Absolutely at the top. I just hope my father was alive to see this. Although I believe,  he manifested this for me from somewhere up there.

Rohan Dua: Also, the Prime Minister wrote a very touching and emotional condolence not after your father’s demise. What do you have to say about that? 

Raveena Tandon: It was an extremely touching gesture. It spoke about the values my father had passed on to me, particularly my love for our sanskriti. It was so beautifully written. It’s as if he knew about the bond I shared with my father. The entire family was touched by the note during a very difficult time of our life and had an embalming effect.

Rohan Dua: Do you envision yourself venturing into politics? Do you lean towards any political affiliation?

Raveena Tandon: Currently, I haven’t made a decision regarding that. I believe in maintaining my independence and voicing my own opinions. While I do admire certain political leaders, I prefer not to disclose any names with the upcoming elections.

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