'The guilt and shame that comes just from the fact that you are a woman and you want to buy a condom is ten times more.'
'You are put through ten times more shame and guilt just because you are a woman!'
Pranutan Bahl takes up the bold role of a condom-seller in her new film Helmet, opposite Aparshakti Khurana.
The film may sound A-rated ,but the young actress feels differently.
"You should watch it with your family," she tells Rediff.com Contributor Prateek Sur, and explains why.
Your first film Notebook did not do well at the box office. How did you cope up with that?
Coming from a film family (Pranutan is the late movie legend Nutan's grand-daughter and actor Mohnish Bahl's daughter), you are used to it.
Of course, there was a little disappointment. but at the same time, I got appreciated for my work.
That was a lot for me.
People were commenting on how good my acting was, and that felt good.
It's very encouraging for a newcomer to have that support in the media, in the audience and also in the film fraternity.
I think you can only control what is in your hands.
If people had thought that I was miserable in the film, that would have really really hurt me.
Luckily, that did not happen.
Your dad has been in the film industry for decades. Does he give you tips about what kind of scripts to pick up?
Of course. His opinion matters a lot.
But the final decision is always mine.
He has always encouraged that and has asked me to take responsibility for my own actions.
Your dad has been extremely close to Salman Khan. How has your equation been with him?
It is fantastic. He is wonderful.
Very humble and extremely loving to not just me but everybody that he has launched.
I know he is always there to listen to me or advise me on anything that I need help with.
You are a south Bombay girl and your character in Helmet is from the heartlands of Uttar Pradesh. Was it difficult playing the part?
Yeah, initially, it was difficult because honestly, I didn't have any time to prepare for this role.
After I passed the audition, I flew to Banaras within seven days. So I didn't have any time to prepare.
But with the help of my director and writer, it got easier.
Day one was difficult, day two was a little better.
Slowly, I got the hang of it.
You share a crackling chemistry with Aparshakti Khurana. How was your shooting experience with him?
It was amazing.
We have a fantastic rapport.
We have not been friends for long, but day one, we've gotten along so well.
We used to have so much fun on the sets.
I used to sing Smelly Cat to him.
On the sets, I used to trouble everyone!
I used to be just singing Smelly Cat all the time!
I used to trouble Apar, Abhishek (Banerjee) and the director (Satram Ramani) and people ended up asking me 'What's gotten into you?'
In Helmet, your character Rupali sells condoms, something we haven't seen before in a film.
Why should only men purchase or sell a condom?
I really love that about my character in the film. Rupali is very forward-thinking and aspirational.
I personally feel why should it only be limited to boys?
The guilt and shame that comes just from the fact that you are a woman and you want to buy a condom is ten times more. You are put through ten times more shame and guilt just because you are a woman!
Why should you feel guilty about doing something that is actually good?
There is nothing wrong with going out and purchasing a condom.
The wrong thing would be to have unprotected sex.
You are actually made to feel like you have done some kind of a crime and people give you so many looks to make you feel so guilty about something that is completely natural.
The topic of condoms is still considered taboo in Indian society. What do you think should be done so that this taboo can be normalised?
To understand that this is a problem needs to be identified.
Identify the problem first, only then can you move towards the solution.
If people are going to keep brushing it under the carpet...
There shouldn't be any guilt or shame attached to it, and that will only happen when there is a healthy dialogue among family members.
That's what I hope Helmet brings about.
That's why I say that Helmet is a family film. You should watch it with your family.
It is entertaining and it will also convey a message.
Helmet couldn't release in theatres. Are you upset?
It was supposed to be a theatrical release. Of course, I was upset.
Then I realised that there was no certainty about cinemas.
At the same time, it is important to realise that the charm of a theatrical release and the charm of watching a film on OTT are completely different. You cannot really pit them against each other.
But in the current scenario, this is the best possibility for the film.
It is important for the film to go out there and be viewed.
A lot of money is also stuck.
The producers have put in their money, so how much can you keep waiting?
There are reports you are doing a project with Ali Abbas Zafar. Is that true?
Now, the thing is that as actors, we go out for many meetings.
It is not right for anybody to speak about anything until you are sure that you are a part of it.