Boycott Culture to Content in TV: Times Ratna Pathak Shah Fearlessly Spoke Up

Here are five times Ratna Pathak gave us a reality check with her blatantly honest and bold remarks.

5 min read
Boycott Culture to Content in TV: Times Ratna Pathak Shah Fearlessly Spoke Up

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Veteran actor Ratna Pathak is well known for unabashedly voicing her opinions, be it about the film industry or societal issues in general. Recently, in the midst of boycott calls for Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone's upcoming film Pathaan, Ratna shared her opinion on the growing boycott culture against Bollywood, asserting that people should watch the film before thinking of boycotting it.

Here are five other times she gave us a reality check with her blatantly honest and bold remarks.


1. When She Called RRR a ‘Regressive Film'

Alia Bhatt, Ram Charan & Jr NTR in a still from RRR.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

During a book launch event in Mumbai in December, Ratna Pathak opened up about the dismal state of script writing in the Hindi-film industry and how filmmakers don't see their work critically anymore.

She shared her opinion on the massive success of filmmaker SS Rajamouli's magnum opus, RRR, which has bagged two Golden Globes nominations, five nods at the Critics Choice Awards and has been shortlisted for Oscars 2023. While many were busy extolling RRR's global success, Ratna Pathak overtly called it a regressive film.

"Films like RRR are so popular today. But it's a regressive film. It looks backwards while we should look forward. We just feel whatever we are doing is good because we are part of the mother of democracy — India. Until filmmakers will not see their work critically, we will have to watch films like RRR. But we don't like criticism. Our ego gets hurt, This atmosphere is created by so many big people and unfortunately, we have accepted it."
Ratna Pathak

2. When She Said Patriarchy Affects Both Men and Women

Poster of Lipstick Under My Burkha.

(Photo Courtesy: IMDb)

During the promotions of her 2017 film Lipstick Under My Burkha, which is a social commentary on the Indian patriarchy, the actor discussed how the patriarchy affects both men and women.

In one of her interviews, she said, "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? 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."

"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. 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."
Ratna Pathak

3. On Bollywood’s Tendency of Stereotyping Roles

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

Ratna Pathak has frequently bemoaned the unavailability of good roles in Indian cinema. She has also opened up about how these available roles are often written in a stereotypical and exaggerated manner, which makes the actors feel constrained.

"Unfortunately Hindi cinema thinks in stereotypes. They find it difficult to think outside stereotypes. In India we find it difficult to think outside stereotypes. This is a problem that all actors suffer from."
Ratna Pathak to Indian Express

In a separate conversation with Pinkvilla, she shared, "I'm not simply an actress who is going to cry, look sad and look angry. Because that's what women did in those days. Look at all the films of the 70s-80s even the art film types. What did poor Smita (Patil) and Shabana (Azmi) do? Either they cried or they were angry all the time. That's how stereotypically the film-writers were looking. They (women) had no right to be happy or were traumatized with something or the other."

"They can’t even write good roles for poor Shah Rukh Khan. They can barely write a good part for poor Deepika Padukone, so how are they going to write a good part for me?” 
Ratna Pathak to Film Companion.

4. Her Take on Women Following Archaic Indian Traditions

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

The Khoobsurat actor had also shared her opinion on Karva Chauth, a Hindu festival wherein married women fast for the long lives of their husbands.

In an interview with Pinkvilla Ratna Pathak shared, "We are moving towards an extremely conservative society. And the first thing that a conservative society does is clamp down on its women. We are becoming superstitious, we are being forced into accepting and making religion a very important part of one’s life. Suddenly everyone’s talking about, ‘Karva Chauth ka vrat nai kar rahe hai aap? (Don't you fast on Karva Chauth). Till today no one has asked me this, last year was the first time someone asked me about it."

"Isn’t it appalling that modern educated women do Karva Chauth, praying for the lives of husbands so that they can have some validity in life? Widow in the Indian context is a horrible situation, isn’t it? So anything that keeps me away from widowhood. Really? In the 21st century, we are talking like this? Educated women are doing this."
Ratna Pathak to Pinkvilla.

5. When She Said Television Is Going Backwards

A still from Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Ratna, who started her career with theatre, has been in the entertainment industry for nearly forty years today. For someone who has been part of several daily soaps like Idhar Udhar, Tara, and Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai, she has never shied away from talking about the regressive state of television today.

In one of her interviews with Etimes, she shared, "It was during the early 2000s that the phase of horrible saas-bahu dramas began, with all their regressive ideas... stuff that we have spent years trying to dump out of the country. If you see, in the late ’90s and early 2000s, you can see the intention to create 'parampara' in society all over again. The importance of caste was reinforced and communal relationships were looked down upon. This should have no space in the 21st century."

"In television, the three slaps in a row was one of the first shots that I did. That was in 1984-85. Aaj bhi wahi (It's the same today)! Sarabhai was shot in 2005. That is 12 years ago. Till today, there is nothing to match that. It is nothing to be proud of! Isn't it strange? We must become more demanding as audiences."
Ratna Pathak

In an industry where most actors are only concerned with the promotion of their films, Ratna Pathak reminds us why we need more outspoken artistes like her.

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