Kangana is a chameleon, says Panga director
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari feels the opinionated actress was perfect for Panga, a film that artfully weaves the theme of women's empowerment around a sports drama
Kangana Ranaut's film, Panga, may have been tagged as a sports drama, but director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari feels the film is so much more than that. In a telephonic conversation with City Times, Ashwiny spoke about her vision for Panga, which tells the story of a former National level kabaddi player, Jaya Nigam (played by Kangana), now settled into domesticity with a job in the railways, but yearning for an identity other than one of wife and mother and salaried worker. Can she make a comeback to kabaddi at the age of 32?
Ashwiny says, "What I wanted to portray very strongly is that we need more and more women to follow their dreams and have second chances, in whatever field they are in, especially after they have a child. Panga is about co-parenting, it is about a relationship between a husband and wife and how together they can create a life of fulfilment. Most of the time the woman takes a backseat; she's the one who is taking care of the house, leaving her dreams aside. Through this film I want to portray the whole aspect of co-existing and co-parenting; as much as the woman helps the man to move forward, we need the man also to help the woman move forward."
Open conversation about needs
In the film, Jaya is married to Prashant (played by singer-actor Jassie Gill) and they have a child, Adi (Yagya Bhasin). Buoyed by the support from her husband and son, she challenges the stereotypes surrounding age and begins training again. The trailer radiates a warmth and positivity that is hugely appealing.
Ashwiny believes this kind of encouragement is vital for anyone's personal journey or growth, but many times we fail to ask for it, or are afraid to.
"We are not supermen or women, like in the movies; all of us do need support. When you watch Panga you will understand how both husband and son support Jaya. Most of the time when we want to do something we always have this doubt or this assumption that nobody is going to support us. And also, we never ask. We worry about what will happen and sometimes wonder why people will even say yes. Because if it's about our things, we may be termed as egoistic or selfish. Innately as women we always put our families first. Therefore the whole idea of ask and maybe it will work out and also having an open conversation about our needs becomes very important."
'This film is for every Jaya'
Ashwiny feels the average Indian woman is still not able to balance domestic life with her aspirations and that makes Panga extremely relevant today.
"A lot of times when we see women sharing their thoughts on being over-burdened, either at home or office, or both, the first answer they will get is 'if you have so many things to do, quit your job. Or it will be 'keep your office things at the office, don't get them home'. It's not about just the urban section of society. There is a Jaya in every household who always keeps the family in the front. No one ever asks her about her point of view. The family looks at her and says, 'give me food now'. No one checks whether she has even eaten food.
"This film is for every Jaya in every household, and every Prashant who needs to understand her."
The Bareilly Ki Barfi director also reveals that Panga isn't based on any real person's life. "It is actually inspired by every Jaya in every household - there's about a billion of them in India! It's also kind of based on my experiences as a mother and how I got into direction."
What does she want people to take away from Panga?
"I feel that there won't be any one thing that will stand out from this film. Still, if I had to pick something, it would be 'be there for each other and support each other'. The takeaway would be different for a man, a woman, a mother, a daughter, a son. I want this film to appeal across all age groups and sections of society; anyone should be able to take something away from it."
Kangana is an innately superior actress, says Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
Despite the controversies surrounding Kangana Ranaut, Ashwiny is all praise for her Panga lead star. "We started out as acquaintances. I never knew her before I started Panga. When I connected with her, she was very kind enough to meet me and that's when I felt she is the best person for this role. I have no prejudice or any kind of judgment - I create my own relationships and my own judgment. When I went to her we just clicked. I was very truthful about everything. And I knew that if I am transparent then she's also going to be the same. There is an innately superior acting quality in her. She's like a chameleon who gets into any character. She's very layered and Jaya's character is also very layered. It's not a straightforward character. So that worked out beautifully."