As the snobbish education consultant in "Hindi Medium", actress Tillotama Shome is treading new grounds in Hindi cinema. She says when she was introduced to the character, it was described as a "bit of a bitch".
"Honey Trehan had called me for the part of the consultant in 'Hindi Medium'. He told me 'The character is a bit of a bitch and you will be perfect for it... (A long silence from my end) I mean your face can be cryptic and one can't tell what you are really feeling, which would be good for this character'," Tillotama told IANS in an email interview.
"I, of course, laughed a lot. But he also wanted me to do the part as the film was in the comedic/satire genre, and the character is well dressed, rich, urbane and he felt that would help break the stereotype of the actress who usually plays 'intense', 'serious', 'poor', 'rural', 'activist', 'maid' parts," added the actress, known for movies like "Monsoon Wedding", "Budhia Singh - Born to Run" and "Qissa".
She said "yes" to "Hindi Medium" without reading the script.
"Honey Trehans's honesty and concern for my well-being really touched me. Even though I had not read the script then, I said yes to the film. Besides, my husband felt our marriage would last longer if I explored comedy, the comedic in me and not just the intense and dark (I am laughing, but it's true)," she added.
As a film, "Hindi Medium" takes a satirical look at the education system, and how a couple runs from pillar to post to ensure their daughter gets into the best English medium school.
Directed by Saket Chaudhary, the film features Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar. It has collected Rs 37.35 crore in India since its release on May 19.
From the content point of view, it looks like a game-changer for sure, and it is doing well at the box office as well.
Tillotama says: "I am really hoping Hindi Medium is a game changer at the box office as well, and thankfully it has been consistently picking up. If it does not do well, then I would be really surprised."
In the film, the actress is seen sharing screen space with Irrfan, who played her onscreen father in "Qissa". And it was an experience yet again for her.
"In 'Hindi Medium', my character has a sense of superiority that comes from privilege and social fluidity due to her ease with the English language, which makes her interaction with Irrfan's character very patronising and bossy. Because Irrfan and I have worked together and, more importantly, because he is tremendously secure as an actor, he let me improvise freely and responded to each improvisation with a complete sense of openness.
"This should be the norm, but it's not. The fragile egos of big stars is often maintained by keeping those around them under check in the shadows. But Irrfan is such a breath of fresh air and has none of those airs. I could walk up to him and tell him that the way we did the scene was boring and if we could just try something else and he would be more than willing.
"I feel there are very few actors like him."