Ayesha Jhulka, one of the popular 1990s stars, says OTT has empowered storytellers to look beyond the stereotypical portrayal of a woman resulting in meaningful roles for actors of all ages.
Jhulka, who recently made her OTT debut with the Prime Video series “Hush Hush”, said she "waited long enough" to do what she really wanted to.
“The OTT has been changing the game for us, for female actors. It is a boon for us. If we didn't have the OTT, it would have been still the same. It's only here that more potential towards acting, characters, barring any age or anything, is there,” the actor told PTI in an interview.
With “Hush Hush”, which has an all-female cast, the 50-year-old actor said she was able to break her on-screen image of a girl next door, attained after blockbuster hits "Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar" and "Khiladi".
“I am actually transcending, cutting off that image and going into a different role altogether. That is a big challenge for me as an artist,” she added.
She starred in a few cameo appearances in the last few years, including Imtiaz Ali’s “Socha Na Tha” and Anil Sharma-directed “Genius”. But with age, the roles dried up, the actor said.
This phase made her take a step back from films and Jhulka said she chose to wait for the right opportunities.
“And then there came a time when I felt that I want to step up, like everybody wants a promotion, for us that promotion comes with the kind of roles or work you want to do.
“You grow up as a human being and as an artist you become more and more hungry for better work because you feel please allow me, give me a chance, I can perform, I can do something,” she added.
Citing the example of her contemporary Raveena Tandon, Jhulka said there is still a long way for her generation of actors to achieve the equality status along with the men in terms of roles being written for them. Tandon also made her digital debut last year with "Aranyak", the Netflix series.
"We are progressing, maybe slow, but we are. And there are makers who are doing different stuff. Now everything cannot be women-centric, that is being selfish.
"But then we talk about equality, you have to be at par with each other. Then we still have a long way to go. We will have to reach the 50 per cent mark and I think that (is possible due to) OTT and the lovely work that so many women are doing, including the ones from the '90s like Raveena," she added.
The actor, however, is glad that the audiences recognise her from her previous work.
“I am alive as an actor because of these films. I did a lot of work after that. Ten years later, ‘Dalaal’ came, which was a super duper hit and then there were silver jubilees like, ‘Waqt Hamara Hai’, ‘Balmaa’, ‘Sangram’ and so many more. Every film gave me some kind of experience and I was consuming all of that and moving forward,” she added.
No one had imagined that the era of the '90s would have such an impact on pop culture, Jhulka said.
“It's such a pleasant feeling to know that you are wanted and people want to see you. At the back of your mind, that fear remains whether I will be accepted or whether people will remember. Fortunately, for me, I have done cult films like ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander’, ‘Khiladi’.”
Going forward, the actor said she wants to play powerful roles, regardless of the length.
"I would like to do strong roles and that doesn’t mean it has to be always surrounded with power. But it has to have the performance power and the actor within me should feel content. I would like to try completely different genres also, see if that interests me and makes me feel good."
Also starring Juhi Chawla, Soha Ali Khan Pataudi, Kritika Kamra, Shahana Goswami and Karishma Tanna, "Hush Hush" follows a group of women whose picture-perfect lives begin to come undone when an unexpected event brings to the fore secrets from their past and threatens everything that's dear to them.