'I have always taken care of people. It's never happened that someone took care of me.'
Former Bigg Boss contestant Kamya Panjabi recently turned producer with a short film Why Not Daughter.
The film highlights the discrimination faced by the girl child and makes society reflect on its regressive mindset.
The actress is as excited about her new project as she is about her personal life.
After a failed marriage, Kamya found love again and wed Shalabh Dang in February.
In a free wheeling conversation with Rediff.com Contributor Sameena Razzaq, Kamya says, "I wasn't against marriage, but I had reservations. My first marriage did not work out, so there was always this thought that what if the second marriage also ends up in a disaster. What will I do then?"
Shoots have resumed after three months of stringent lockdown. How was the experience of facing the camera after such a long time? What guidelines and precautions are being followed on set?
We had to get back to life.
We could not be sitting at home for long. I wanted to start working for people, especially daily wage earners.
You have turned producer with your short film Why not Daughter. Why did you choose this subject?
I just show a mirror to society.
Everyone knows the girl child faces a lot of discrimination and we live with it.
We discriminate between the son and the daughter without even realising what she must be going through.
Since it's a short film, I wasn't able to show all aspects of discrimination.
I have just managed to highlight that when it comes to choosing between a girl and a boy, Indian society is clear about their priorities.
Sadly, this discrimination is not only in small cities, but even in urban set ups.
Even educated parents are seen telling their daughters that you are a girl, you are not suppose to talk like that and you can't do this.
No matter how much we say, our thinking has not changed and we continue to treat our daughters differently than our sons.
Many films have been made on this subject with a view to change the mindset of people, but nothing happens. How will you achieve this?
In our country, so many girls are raped and the cases just go on.
Currently, we are battling COVID-19 so we don't get information about where a girl is being raped and where a cover up is happening.
I am the mother of a daughter, so this affects me.
We run Beti Padhao campaigns, but never implement it.
So many girls are denied education because the son is the parents' priority.
There is lot of anger inside me against this discrimination.
I always wanted to do something to change the mindset of the people.
This film is a small step.
In the future, I plan to do something more elaborate with the help of NGOs.
How has the response been so far?
It's been amazing.
I received a lot of calls from people in the industry saying the film made them cry and it should be shown at festivals.
I am in talks with lot of NGOs, so it can be shown to many people to create awareness.
You bravely opened up about the domestic violence you experienced in your first marriage. Surprisingly, this film is directed by your ex-husband Bunty Negi.
Was there any bitterness between the two of you when you decided to collaborate?
Absolutely nothing. No bitterness at all.
Bunty and I share a very good rapport.
He is the father of my daughter.
I have never kept my daughter away from her father.
Bunty brought this concept to me as he knew I wanted to do something in that direction.
My shooting schedules were such that I wasn't getting time to work on it.
I made a few changes to the story and gradually, things started rolling.
It took me six months to make this film. We have used a lot of VFX.
They say once bitten twice shy. What made you overcome your reservations about getting married a second time?
You are right. I had fear.
I wasn't against marriage, but I had reservations.
My first marriage did not work out, so there was always this thought that what if the second marriage also ends up in a disaster. What will I do then?
I wasn't ready to take that chance but after meeting Shalabh (Dang), everything changed.
I am so happy and content in my life right now.
How did Shalabh Dang get you to say yes to him?
He didn't have to convince me.
The more we started knowing each other, we realised we are made for each other.
Shalabh is a very caring and understanding man.
I am amazed at how well he handles his responsibilities.
The decision of marrying him was not difficult as I was very sure I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.
What made you fall in love with Shalabh?
I have always taken care of people. It's never happened that someone took care of me.
When he met me for the first time, he got me a gift. I am not used to something like that.
In the beginning of the relationship, everyone appears caring and understanding, but this man is actually like that.
So it was a new experience for me.
The best part is that he has a son, so he knows how to handle the responsibilities of a child.
He is a very family kind of person.
All these qualities made me fall in love with him and I decided to get married.
You were trolled for marrying a second time because you had a daughter. Did that affect you in any way?
I didn't care about the trolls.
When I was in depression, I didn't speak to anyone for two years.
I used to do my work and cry alone.
I would shut myself up in my room and stay awake the whole night.
When I was suffering, these trolls didn't come to cry with me.
So I don't care what they say. I don't care what the world says.
Was it difficult for you to get your daughter Aara to accept Shalabh as a father figure as well as his son as a sibling?
I did not give Aara a shock by suddenly announcing that I was getting married.
It took me a lot of time to understand Shalabh.
A lot of things have grown with time; Aara also went through the same.
Both the kids spent a lot of time with each other in the lockdown. One is in Delhi and the other is in Mumbai, so they call and talk to each other.
They have a lot of common friends, so their bonding is strong.