New Delhi | Gandhi may have pushed Rohini Hattangadi into the roles of the perennial Bollywood mother but the actress says she has no regrets as Richard Attenborough’s film was a huge milestone in her career.
Rohini is still remembered for her memorable performance as Kasturba Gandhi opposite British actor Ben Kingsley in the film. She was only 27 when she played Kasturba. I take things as they come. I was 27, which is slightly late for the so-called heroine. I was trained in theatre so the seriousness was there. I never went in for the glamour. And ‘Gandhi’ was such an important opportunity right in the beginning of my career. I had just done three films. I knew that I wanted to be in parallel cinema and do meaningful films, Rohini said.
The veteran actress, who went on to play Amitabh Bachchan’s mother in Shahenshah and Agneepath, says nobody remembers the young Kasturba, people only remember the older version. Most of the roles that I got after ‘Gandhi’ were of a mother. Nobody remembers young Kasturba…
Once I called Basu Bhattacharya and told him ‘I am only getting roles of a mother’. He told me, ‘There are only two people who can play young and old with equal ease, you and Sanjeev Kumar. So, don’t feel bad about it’. Recalling how she got the opportunity to star in Gandhi, the 65-year-old actress says it was Dolly Thakur, who approached her for the audition as she knew her from her Marathi cinema days. I was working in Marathi cinema after finishing my course in National School of Drama (NSD).
I got to know that Sir Richard was looking for actresses to play Kasturba. Dolly got in touch with me. I met him and he called me for a screen test in England. It was the first time, I travelled out of the country. Rohini says before leaving for her screen test she got a Khadi saree, a long blouse, mangalsutra and bindi.
Once in London, we were given our scenes to do. I did the scene with Ben Kingsley, who had come for the audition. We did the scene from South Africa where Kasturba refuses to clean the toilet. A month later, they told me I was on for the part. I was told to lose about five kgs. Gandhi will be screened tomorrow as part of Zee Classic’s India’s Finest Films and Rohini is happy that the film continues to have a connect with the audience even after so many years.