The Kashmir Files’ Pallavi Joshi says Bollywood films aren’t working as ‘India’s problems don’t feature in them anymore’

Pallavi Joshi has an enviable record at the box office this year. Her film The Kashmir Files is the highest-grossing Hindi film of the year despite being a ‘small film’ with no big stars. In comparison, some of the much bigger films featuring much bigger names crash-landed at the box office, leading many to ask what has gone wrong with the Hindi film industry. In a recent conversation with Hindustan Times, the veteran actor opened up on where Bollywood is lacking and the changing trajectory of her own career. Also read: Argument that ‘boycott Bollywood’ would affect poor technicians is wrong, says Pallavi Joshi

The Kashmir Files was made on a budget of 15 crore and ended up grossing over 350 crore worldwide, largely due to strong word of mouth. The film, directed by Pallavi’s husband Vivek Agnihotri, dealt with the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley over 30 years ago. The film beat out several big releases like Ranbir Kapoor’s Shamshera, Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha, and Akshay Kumar’s Samrat Prithviraj in the box office race.

When asked what Bollywood seems to be doing wrong, Pallavi says, “I am not an expert in Bollywood so I don’t know what went wrong with Shamshera or Dobaaraa and other films. But I can certainly tell you what worked in favour of our film. I have always believed that the audience realises the intent with which you put across your subject or performance. In theatre, there were days when I lost focus and wouldn’t get the same reaction from the audience. And those were the most miserable days. And the same applies to films as well. Through the screen too, people realise your honesty.”

Pallavi feels that The Kashmir Files worked because it spoke about real issues that the people of this country want to see, something that most other films are shying away from. She argues, “As an artiste, the training is to show a mirror to society. So, even if you are a little anti-establishment, that’s ok. If you see the films of Raj Kapoor, Manoj Kumar, Sunil Dutt, they mirrored whatever was happening around in the society. The films were based around the problems India was facing at that time. Somehow, the problems of India do not feature in our films anymore. Hence, there is that disconnect.”

The actor also addresses the ongoing ‘boycott Bollywood’ trend on social media, where an increasing number of people have been calling for boycotting successive Hindi films, ranging from Laal Singh Chaddha and Dobaara to Liger and Brahmastra. “People should also realise introspection is important. I feel if such a huge movement is taking place in the country, there is a need for introspection for everyone. The audience is our everything and we are nothing without them. So, let’s try and remember this and give them what they want. Give them the stories they are dying to see and see how they flock the theatres again,” says Pallavi.

Pallavi began acting at the age of four in 1973 and is set to complete half a century in the entertainment industry. Over the years, she has seen her career trajectory change very often, including taking a voluntary break in the late-90s. Talking about how her career has progressed, she says, “It’s a blessing and I consider myself extremely lucky that people have not forgotten me. When I took the break to sit at home with my kids, my close ones including my husband and father would call it ‘career suicide’. They said I won’t be able to come back. I was really very zen at that point and I said, ‘don’t worry, people won’t forget me’. I don’t know why I had that confidence. I guess I wasn’t proved wrong and I am happy about it.”

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