Shreya Dhanwanthary: Hindi cinema should focus on telling their own stories instead of doing remakes
The Scam 1992 actor’s new short, Birth, is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar
Shreya Dhanwanthary always leaves a mark. Her performances as the fiery journalist Sucheta Dalal, connecting the dots in Scam 1992, or as Zoya, the new recruit in the Threat Analysis and Surveillance Cell (TASC) in The Family Man, stand out. She has come up with a new short film, titled Birth. The film, described as a satirical feminist thriller, is about a woman grappling with the anxieties of pregnancy. It also stars Lillete Dubey.
We spoke to her about the short, how parents try to control their child’s future even before they are born, abortion laws in India and boycott trends surrounding Hindi cinema. Excerpts:
Not just Scam 1992 or The Family Man, you have made OTT your space for a while now with series like Ladies Room (2016), A Viral Wedding (2020) and more recently Mumbai Diaries 26/11. What is your take on OTT as a medium?
I think OTT has given us a lot. They opened up the playground and gave opportunities to people behind the camera and those in front. It’s a great place to be.
We recently saw Birth and one thing that stood out for me was how parents are hell-bent on shaping their child’s future even before they are born. What are your thoughts?
I think parents mean well. But this is also true that sometimes parents do get more controlling, especially in India. If it starts from a place of good intention then it’s great, but a child’s interests should also be kept in mind.
As per a recent judgment in the USA, states can now come up with their own abortion laws. Even in India, abortion is seen as a taboo subject. Your take?
It is actually legal to have an abortion in India. Our country has looked after the rights of women. It’s just that not many people know about the laws and thus it’s very hush-hush. There is also a lot of stigma involved. But I think India, when it comes to abortion, is lot freer than the US.
Where do you stand in the pro-choice and pro-life debate?
Nothing but pro-choice. Everything else is the wrong choice.
Talking about cinema, Hindi films are not faring well at the box office. Is it the boycott campaigns or content crisis?
I don’t think the boycott trends are affecting the box office. After the pandemic, it has become very costly to go to the theatre. Films too should be exciting enough to pull audiences to cinemas. I think we should concentrate more on making our own stories. We should stop using a ‘formula’ that if one film is working in a specific culture so we should adapt or remake it. I think Hindi cinema should lead by example instead of following a pattern.
Birth is directed by Shayam Sundar, written by Neha RT and produced by Natasha Malpani Oswal of Boundless Media. It is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.