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Ratna Pathak Shah: Patriarchy is hard on women and men
Tuesday, July 11, 2017 • Hindi Comments

Veteran actress Ratna Pathak Shah, who will soon be seen in the film "Lipstick Under My Burkha", says the patriarchal structure anywhere in the world is hard not just on women but on men too.

"How many men have a choice? How many men are doing a job that they did not want to do, doing things and behaving in ways that they did not want to," Ratna, who will be essaying the role of a 55-year-old widow in the film, told media persons here on Tuesday.

"Patriarchy is hard on men as well as women. So we need to get rid of the root cause of it. Get rid of this idea of patriarchy and find new ways of looking at society," said the acclaimed actress, who is married to veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah.

She questioned: "A number of times women ask for permission from the men in their lives to do something or other. Aren't we asking for such a behaviour then?

"When a woman asks for a permission from someone, yes, we are asking for it... But then you have to gauge the situation and circumstances as well. There are instances that force a woman to ask for permission.

"It's not easy to do what you want to do when you are financially dependant on the other person... Within a family, since childhood you are being told that you are not really welcome, a lot of girls face it... I have faced it too. But I never got stopped due to this. When a woman wants something, she doesn't stop," Ratna said.

In the film, which is about four women characters, Ratna essays the role of a woman whose sexual longings awaken at the age of 55.

Asked if certain scenes where she had to show those urges in the film, made her uncomfortable or think twice about it, she said: "It's not like it did not occur to me as to how a few people in my family would react to my role in the film. I did think on what my answer should be if I am questioned about my role.

"But now I have those answers. Because I know that there are certain topics in our lives that we don't talk about or dodge. We don't talk about homosexuality, generation gap... There are many issues that we rarely talk about. There are some people who are educating themselves and learning, but there are people who are still struggling on those lines.

"But then that is how a society works. Everyone cannot think the same. Some move forward, some lag behind," the 60-year-old said.

Talking about the men in the film, Ratna hailed the "male gaze" on the sets.

"There is a big change in the country. There is no doubt about it. The male gaze on the set without exception was unusual... I have no second thoughts on that. I have been on a lot of film sets before, so I know what kind of vibes go around.

"So, this was truly unusual. And in a film like this, where there was a possibility that at some point or situation there could have been a crooked man, but no, there wasn't a single one."

The actress also said that India is in dire need of sex education.

"India is in need of sex education. We don't know how we became a billion... 'Woh toh bas bhagwaan ki daya se hogaya'. We desperately need some information, which is why Alankrita Shrivastava made this film, so that people get this information in one go -- so that our population grows from a billion to 10 billion perhaps," quipped the actress.

"Lipstick Under My Burkha", releasing on July 21, was in the news after the censor board deemed it too "lady oriented" to release. But it got a green signal after fighting the way through the censor authorities.