Gone are times when the maa and pitaji in movies were stereotypical roles that required them to weep at the drop of a hat. In new-age Bollywood, parents are not only hip and cool, but also crazy hilarious. And this is evident in the recently released film Bareilly Ki Barfi. In conversation with Bhakti Mehta, talented actor – Seema Bhargava Pahwa – shared her journey about playing a modern-day parent.
ON THE BRIEF
I was told that I had to play a mother who was tense about her daughter’s marriage. The daughter had certain habits that thwarted any good prospects of getting a groom. The film is set in small-town Bareilly, and there are many hurdles to her getting married. The mother is a school teacher, they have a good home and their own halwai shop. They are very broad-minded as they allow their daughter to smoke. Woh kehte hain ki ab cigarette peeti hai toh kya karen. This is the short brief I had about the character.
ON HER ROLE
When I read the actual script, when I went into the details, I felt that since my character was a school teacher, she could be a little loud. She teaches students all day, which makes her a little cranky and that makes her speak in a raised tone all the time. These are the few things I added to the character. Every movie has a similar mother’s character and when she has a daughter, there is the same worry about getting her married. I have always landed similar roles, whether in this film or in Dum Laga Ke Haisha or in my next film Shubh Mangal Saavdhan. Even though the problems of all mothers are the same, the attitude is different and that is what I tried to do.
ON THE CHALLENGES
In Bareilly Ki Barfi, I did not have many challenges as I am a mother in real-life too. I am also aware of what’s happening in around me. So if there is an aunty or a neighbour or a relative who has interesting body language or mannerisms that I can use, I pick it up. I get inspired by them and use these things in my roles. All my roles, even the one in Bareilly Ki Barfi, have been inspired by people around me.
ON DIRECTOR ASHWINY IYER TIWARI
It was wonderful working with Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari. Badi pyaari si hain woh. She respects you and gives her actors the space they need. This helps the actors add their own contributions to the shot. She was very clear as to what she wanted from us and from the film. She made the space very homely and very comfortable for all of us, something which only a good director can do.
ON HER CO-ACTORS
As I said, I was very comfortable with everyone on the sets. I worked with Kriti Sanon, Rajkumar Rao and Pankaj Tripathi for the first time. From the first day itself we were very close, we had fun on the sets and joked around. In this fun environment, all actors help each other. No one is insecure about their part, there is no ego, no fights. It was a small unit and was like a small family. Everyone had their own roles and nobody thought that one would outshine the other. Working with these young people is also fun because they are so aware of everything on the sets, whether it is the camera angle or the shot. It is really very inspiring.
ON THE AUDIENCE
I am very lucky that I received so much appreciation and love from the audience. I have always been very grateful for the love I get from the audience and always try to promise them that I will work harder to make them happy.
ON FUTURE PROJECTS
I am doing Shubh Mangal Saavdhan next, with Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar. After that, I have another film that I just completed. It is titled Khajoor Pe Atke and the post-production is on. It is the directorial debut of actor Harsh Chhaya. Other than that, I am in talks for a few other films but cannot talk about that right now.