“Indian audiences believe in escapism”

Fagun Thakrar

A family of medicos inspired her to begin studies to be a doctor, but right now it is films that British-Indian actress Fagun Thakrar from Leicester has on her mind. Her new film Blood and Curry has just premiered in the US. It’s a film about an Indian woman who has an arranged marriage and moves to the US, but finds herself trapped with a physically abusive man. She feels that men who abuse women don’t think it is wrong. So she has tried to send a strong message through her role. She gave an interview to INDIA EMPIRE last month

Many years ago Amitabh Bachchan said that he was in cinemas not because he wanted to give out a message to his audience every time he appeared on screen, but he was there because he wanted to entertain. Message was secondary to Entertainment. What do you have to say?
Yes, we, the film makers are here to entertain but we also have a moral duty towards our audience. As family and other social support structure diminishes in modern world, our young people grow up learning the sense of right and wrong from watching movies.

But films don't have to be boring. As Mr. Goldwyn famously said "messages are for western union”. I'd like to see films that are entertaining and engaging but after leaving the cinema make me think of a bigger story that film maker was trying to tell me. Films like Forrest Gump and Amelie stay with us long after leaving the cinema. They were box office hits but also make us think!

There are seldom-happy endings to Hollywood movies, but that is not at all the case in Bollywood. Why, according to you, are film storylines in Hollywood and Bollywood so fundamentally different from one another?
Indian audience and filmmakers in Bollywood believe in escapism. Indian audiences, after a hard day’s work, want to see something that takes away from their worries and they just want to escape into the dreams that are inhabited by their favorite stars. And they want their dreams to have a happy ending so they go out and face the world with a big smile on their faces.

Which was your first love, medicine or movies?
Movies, I have always loved watching movies even since I was a child. Also as a child I was always surrounded by professional family members and my role models were highly placed doctors. What attracted me to them most was their knowledge and power to help others. Same thing as acting -- I wanted to make a change, help disadvantaged people. And I hope I do this through whatever profession I am in....

Have you followed the change in Bollywood over the years? Is it for the better, or…
Oh yes, the new generation of filmmakers are making more original stories, dealing with real stories about Indian people. It's also changing the audience's taste.

The book “the Secret” says that what you tend to project more, you tend to attract more. Do you think films on domestic violence can help curb the issue?
I think when people see what is going on in the world, it helps them to see it’s not only themselves that are dealing with it. I personally believe talking about this subject is the way to tackle this chronic problem. Just by hiding from it, it's not going to go away. People who practice abuse need to realize the world outside doesn't think it is normal. It has to stop.

Which is your favorite Hollywood movie of all time, and why?
I like the classic American movies like Casablanca. Forest Gump, it makes me laugh, makes me cry and makes me acutely aware that our life is a tapestry stuck together by chances and coincidences. I don't know what my life would have been, without those chance encounters that have shaped my life so far. A very inspiring story.

Likewise, which is your favorite Bollywood movie of all time, and why?
Sholay. It's Bollywood at its best -- its epic, engaging, and a classic tale of morality and courage that doesn't get old. The only Bollywood film I've seen many times and I’ll still watch it with my parents.

October 2010

click here to enlarge

 >> Cover Story
 >> From the Editor