About three decades ago, Raveena Tandon stepped in front of a film camera for the first time. Being the eldest daughter of director Ravi Tandon ( Khel Khel Mein , Majboor ) meant film offers started pouring in as soon as she finished school but acting didn’t interest her. That was until a film starring Salman Khan came her way. The film was GP Sippy’s Pathar Ke Phool .
This month she makes another debut with Netflix’s Aranyak and it comes from the Sippy stable again, this time produced by Rohan Sippy. As she has done through most of her film career, the actor went through many scripts before picking the thriller. “I wanted to wait for something that ticked all the boxes and felt right for me. I fell for Kasturi Dogra,” she says about her character – a cop in a small town in the hills of North India.
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The Hindu Weekend met the actress recently in Lonavala on the sidelines of the launch of the show’s trailer. Directed by Vinay Waikul, the show that also stars Parambrata Chatterjee and Ashutosh Rana revolves around a dead tourist, a harried local cop desperately trying to balance her work and personal life, and a town full of mysteries.
Becoming Kasturi Dogra
In the early years of her career, Tandon often spoke about her childhood ambition of joining the IPS, so playing a cop was an added bonus. “It's always a matter of pride for me when I don the uniform, even if it's for reel.” Beyond that though, the actress found it challenging to slip into character. “We’re lucky to come from privileged families, with emotional support and the backing to be able to do and achieve what we want in our jobs. But there are so many women out there who don't get the kind of emotional backing or even just a helping hand with running their households. To be a cop was [Dogra’s] childhood passion and she's brilliant at it. Unfortunately for her, just at the time she decides to take a break for her family [comes] the biggest case to hit the town.”
100% or nothing
Coming from a school of thought that her career wasn’t her whole life, Tandon, 47, has always managed to carve out time for things that are important to her. In 1995, she adopted two girls – Pooja and Chhaya - and a decade later when her children Rasha and Ranbirvardhan were born she was a hands-on mother. “I am often asked why I take on so little work. I don't want it to become so hectic that I can't enjoy what I’m doing. When I do take up work, I want to give it 100%. Last month, I was doing recces of colleges for my daughter and I was out and almost unreachable to those from my workspace because I want to be there 100% for her. I am currently reading eight scripts and I can sign all of them but I don’t want to crowd my space.”
This is Tandon’s 30th year in the business. Her filmography includes masala entertainers like Dulhe Raja and Bade Miya Chote Miya along with films like Satta and Shool . Her last films were Maatr and Shab in 2017. Multiple acting awards include a National Award for Daman , a film that deals with marital violence. For someone who described herself as a reluctant actor, she has a lot to show for her time in the industry.
“I did make a conscious effort to diversify into different kinds of roles, whether it was Shool , Satta , Daman , Ghulam-E-Musthafa , Aks or Maatr . I’ve been one of those actors who has wanted to experiment with different kinds of roles. I did not want to be comfortable in my own skin and play myself in every movie; I grew out of that,” she says. “And that is something I'm glad I did, whether it was playing a Bihari housewife, a Himachali cop, high-society brat, a victim-mother or a hardcore politician. I've probably come a long way. I think I need to be thankful and appreciate that the audiences accepted me in all those roles.”
Aranyak drops on Netflix on December 10