In the 90s Renuka Sahane was popular for the role of the adorable bhabhi (sister-in-law) in Salman Khan starrer Hum Apke Hain Kaun. She had played the role of Pooja bhabhi who had a great fall from the stairs. In the Sooraj Barjatiya directorial that had been one of the most shocking death sequences leading to the exit of a lovable character. Years later the same sweet bhabi unpredictably became a meme for slipping down the stairs. Today she is an actress, a writer, a director yet somehow she keeps getting popular for being the meme woman who fell down from a flight of stairs.
During an exclusive conversation with International Business Times, she shared her thoughts on her recent directorial, Tribhanga and her ways of being alive in people's mind through the meme. Tribhanga has received mixed reviews, but it is vastly different from the Barjatiya morality which we have experienced on the big screen in the 90s. The only morality the women in Sahane's film follows is freedom in true sense. Freedom to part ways with religion, freedom to be a spiritual woman, freedom to choose her own lover, in other embracing life the way it comes and owing to the ability to understand that the next generation of daughters made choices of their own.
In Tribhanga change happens in a different direction. An atheist mother gets highly spiritual children and a free-spirited mother's child wants to be part of a traditional family.
Well, I think religion is such a personal thing, each person, they might belong to our family, like Nayantara (a character from the film) where God is not brought up because she is an atheist. But there lie experiences, there lies something that is something apart from their mother. Whatever they experience in their life, they are open and luckily their family is a very liberal family, they are not disheartened and they are allowed to have this choice of following a particular religion, god, that is embraced. The main thing is that it has to be your choice not imposed on you.
That is the thing about Anu and Robindro discover, Robindro is a Mira and Anu is in the Radha category, in her love for Krishna. In that sense, there is a distinction in their love for Krishna. And her child Masha, who is nice and adjusting to all sort of environment, she identifies herself as Bahai, a religion which accommodates the thoughts of all religion and embraces all religion. That's what I show, that there are three different perspectives and this can happen in families where there is no rigid system, which is imposed on anybody. They all have their own lives to live and choose.
Do you think/know anyone who has hated their mother like Anu in Tribhanga?
Life inspires you. For any writer, the things you read, the things you observe, the people you meet, the things you think of it is a collective process over many many years. The seed might be buried and then you think of that then you build upon that. In the beginning, I wanted it to be around Nayan and Anu's relationship, that was for me the craft, the started point was that when I had met somebody when I was shooting for a film, who mentioned pretty casually that she hated her mother and that she was extremely happy to be married, and that she left her pre-marital home.
That shocked me to the core, till then I had not met anybody who said that they hated their mother, you know. Mothers were always somebody, the core. For me my mother is my core, whatever I am is because of her, she is everything to me, hence I found it very difficult to understand, then I was thinking where I'm concerned myself if my centre was off centre, my centre which is my mother, if she was the kind of person I hated then what would have happened, that was the beginning point of Tribhanga. Then of course I wanted a different perspective of this relationship, and that's when the third generation also came.
In Tribhanga Anu physically pushes an elderly woman away. Do you think 10 years ago audience would have accepted such behaviour on screen?
Yah, why not you have to show the logic of your story. Whether it is 10 years ago or 30 years ago, there are so many films that have shown things which are very very shocking and extremely difficult to palette in a normal society. And yes, it is the way the screenplay proceeds you make it believable, and you draw people in and therefore the entire thing becomes believable.
The character speaks to you from the beginning then you believe whatever you believe on screen. Even 10 years ago if I would have shown this, because this is the kind of relationship many people have from what feedback I'm getting from the film, I have realised that there are many acrimonious relationships there are behind the four walls of even supposedly normal family.
So you are an actress, a director, a writer, yet people still know you as a meme. Did you ever imagine that would happen?
(Laughs). No. I would have never imagined, at that time there were no social media only, I wouldn't have been able to imagine internet taking over our daily lives, and so memes were not something popular, that time it was considered shocking. Back then when Hum Aapke Hain Kaun had released, the exit of the bhabi was extremely shocking, so for them, it is very difficult to convert it something you can laugh at, but nowadays nothing is taken seriously, everything is up for a good laugh and you have to have a good sense of humour you know to even live life happily. I think it is a great way of keeping oneself alive in people's mind today when there are so many people using memes on your death.