Bombay Showcase

Romance and Farida Jalal

The thought of Farida Jalal as protagonist in a film that has ‘scandal’ in the title seems, well, a tad scandalous. Those of us who have grown up watching Jalal — one of the most talented supporting actors of Hindi cinema — would baulk at the thought.

After all, Jalal’s performances are often described with adjectives like sweet and sagacious. So one watched Scandal Point , the latest short from Yash Raj Films, featuring her with Kulbhushan Kharbanda, with much curiosity.

The red dahlias in her hair provide a setting for what is to unfold. The song “ Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Main ” adds to the mood.

Here is an ageing couple romancing comparing the past with the present all the time conscious of a police constable who is snooping on young couples at the point.

“It was the idea of the young director Ankur [Tewari],”says Jalal in a phone interview to The Hindu. He said Farida ji, you must put flowers and the obedient actor that I am, followed the directions. Once the camera is on I am in bliss,” Jalal chuckles. “If we don’t move with the times, we will be left behind. I can say I have worked in a short film as well. Having said that, I come from a generation where we used to take two reels to establish the characters and anything less than two-and-a-half hours was not satisfying. So it was a bit tough. It was like bas ho gaya .”

She says the film raises a pertinent point: “It is not just the youngsters; elder members of the family also need moments of privacy, and in cities like Mumbai it is becoming increasingly hard to get.”

When the film starts, Kharbanda seems like the naughtier of the two but towards the end we realise it is Jalal who is miles ahead when it comes to the boldness quotient.

“I have been naughty in the past but yes here I take the stand and suggest I don’t care,” her laughter fills the air. “Kulbhushan and I played Anil Kapoor’s parents in Loafer . He is a gentleman and a fine actor.”

She says she really liked the short film which featured Nimrat Kaur and Tahir Bhasin ( The Road Trip ). “It has a beginning, middle and an end and it leaves you thinking. Ours is a little flat in that sense. It provides a glimpse of the life of this couple and moves on.”

Stereotyped roles

The conversation moves to how she was stereotyped in sister roles in the 70s.

“The first time I was asked to play a sister’s role was in Gopi and I could not say no because it was an opportunity to play Dilip Kumar’s sister. And once I played Dilip Kumar’s sister every hero wanted me as sister on screen. I didn’t mind it either because in the process I got some meaty parts like in Paras and Majboor . Of course, I didn’t get to romance and sing songs around trees but no regrets as such.”

Gateway to stardom

Talent hunts are considered to be a modern gateway to stardom but few remember that Jalal was the winner of the same contest which discovered Rajesh Khanna.

“I got selected for a role during the event itself even before the results were announced as Tarachand Barjatya happened to watch my performance and offered me Taqdeer . Aradhana came later. And mind you I was not a rebel. Everybody in the family was supportive and happy.”

However, she goes on to add that now the number of such outlets has increased. “And the role of an actress is not conceived only as somebody’s wife or sister.”

She recalls that just two decades ago when her film Mammo won critical acclaim, the media wrote about it as a woman-oriented film for a niche audience. “This is not the case with Queen or Piku .”

She is still remembered for playing the sweet yet feisty mother in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge . What’s next?

“At this stage I don’t want to repeat myself as a mother, but still if somebody offers me something credible, I will go out of the way to grab it.”

Jalal was the winner of the

same contest which discovered Rajesh Khanna

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 4:49:01 PM |

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