Model turned actor Koena Mitra is a renowned face in Bollywood. Known for her item songs and movie Apna Sapna Money Money, she was also one of the contestants of Bigg Boss season 13. Apart from being a famous Bollywood actor, she is also trained in western dance forms, basketball, swimming and tennis.
Koena has always been vocal about her stance and in the industry. She never shies away from speaking up for what is right.
In an exclusive conversation with IBTimes, Koena Mitra spills the beans on the current topics nepotism, camping and groupism in Bollywood. Speaking her mind fearlessly. Mitra's unabashed and unbiased views are worth giving a read!
Excerpts from the interview:
On how her lockdown days are going?
Lockdown is boring can't work, can't work out, can't shop. The only thing I did was that I had to manage for a month and a half, I had to cook and do the dishes. I don't hate all that, it is just that when you are cooking for yourself, it gets a little boring. If you have 4-5 people appreciating your cooking skills its all worthwhile (smiles). On the work front, I will be honest, I haven't shot for anything during the quarantine. I have couple of projects lined up. The situation is bad and everyone is paranoid hence we aren't shooting for it.
On the ongoing debate over nepotism, groupism and camping in the industry
Nepotism has always been there and will always be there. Not just in our industry, it's there in every industry. It's highlighted more as Bollywood is one of the biggest industries we have. Good, bad or ugly everything becomes big because the brand is big.
Talking about my journey....
Thankfully, my entry was smooth I didn't have to struggle or go door to door to get work. Talent is appreciated here. I don't want to name the stars but I know many people who have shown their talent after 20 films, those 19 films that they got without the struggle. What I mean by nepotism here is easy access in the industry, you walk into a room and you don't have to worry about your stay in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Your parents have a plan, they plan your closet, you are taken care of. A lot of outsiders are living in Mumbai, and why I am saying this is because I am one of them, it's not easy you work in such a big industry, and then to sustain, to keep on growing and then the moment you succeed, there will be ten people blocking your path. Success makes a lot of other successful people insecure and there are not too many people who will celebrate your success, but they will celebrate your failure, they will mock you, they will bully you. Many such senior stars at the award functions come out together who are 50-55 years old stars, they mock and bully their juniors. It has become a culture now mocking and all that, making fun of an artist with 3- 4 flops. A star's son or daughter can get away with it because their failures are never celebrated, their failures are never mocked. Despite 19 flops, they still get films. And groupism and campism will always be there.
She went on saying...
Having said that, I would like to appreciate that our industry is like an ocean, kiske pass license nai hai, nobody can say that they are running the industry and they can decide who will succeed, or who will fail or who should leave the industry? Saying things like if you don't like the mess then leave the industry. No one has the license to say such things.
At the same time, we have good directors and technicians they support talent, they support outsiders their hard work and the newcomers. As they themselves are hardworking. First, ask those directors and technicians how they are bullied? As they support the right people and talent, their struggles are a lot harder than actors because such technicians are not allowed to rise.
On Gundas and Mafias in Bollywood
These gundas, mafias, will never rise, and they will become powerless if they don't have these followers. The problem is a lot of people fear failure. One needs to understand that failure is not the opposite of success, it's a part of success. As these people fear failure, that's why these chelas (followers) bow down to gundas, so forget their powers. For instance, I don't have a copy of Koena I am one and only that's my power. A lot of people don't believe in themselves and empower others. There is too much of 'Bhai Bhai' karke, 'sir sir' karke, gulami karna, slavery karna, that how monsters are created, that's how gundas are created. Imagine this world without chelas, you will not find a single gunda, these chelas fear failure as they are lazy, they fear struggle and that's why they bow down to these mafias.
On Karan Johar and Kangana Ranaut's battle
Kangana's statements are true, some people of the industry also know, there are too many followers and there are too many chelas (followers). They don't believe in themselves and if they had confidence and if they were fearless enough, they would have come out and shared their stories. In fact, a lot of seniors dabaoo people (bully people), there are a lot of seniors who blackmail people saying, Agar aap answer de rahe ho, argue kar rahe ho toh aapko pata hai na industry ban kar degi? (If you talk against these people they will ban you). We should ask them license dikho, where is your license? (Show me the license). The industry is an ocean, who are you to ban?
Kangana has complained about certain thing, I remember watching one of Karan Johar's video, wherein he says, 'If you have so much problem then move'. He is no one to ask anybody to leave, he doesn't have the license of this industry to ask her to leave. If he doesn't like something or someone he will speak. For instance, if you don't like something, or you have bitter experiences you will talk about it, you will talk about your success or failure stories. and others will have to tolerate you just the way we have tolerated so many people and their nonsense. So you can't say that leave the industry. You should be questioned by everyone in the industry ki license kisne diya? Do something else Matlab? An artist will work, and an artist will work on their terms and conditions. Kiske gundagardi mein tumhara follower banke gumna kiske saath aur nai hota hai toh ? (If we don't become your slave and don't roam around with you then) You leave the industry and do something else? No, an artist will decide what they will do.
On upcoming projects
Right after the lockdown, I will shoot for the short film, and then there is a web series with the same production house. At the moment the web show is in the writing stage, the translation from Bengali to Hindi is going on. I was planning my production house for two years, and then the delays from invertors happened and now aur delay yoga (will be delayed further) because of the lockdown. Also, we are unsure when the theatres will open. As far as OTT's business is concerned, it will take six to seven months to understand whether we are losing money or gaining money. A lot of people are not ready to release funds as they want to take time to know how OTT business is functioning. So many films are releasing online. Filmmaking is a gamble, and you need to understand how the money is recovering.
On Social media spewing negativity.
Social media has become toxic. 2020 has been hard for all of us, our time is bad, there is sickness, border conflicts, legal matters, our cops are working tirelessly, doctors are working endlessly. There is so much much happening. We all are all frustrated what I would like to say is, don't bully people, not to name or shame anyone or get into character assassination. People on social media should be a little sensitive. All of us need healing and not so much of unnecessary hatred and negativity.