“I didn’t leave Bollywood because of marriage and kids, I was being typecast” – says Celina Jaitly

By Neeru Saluja

Former Miss India and actor Celina Jaitly has emerged out of her sabbatical to make a comeback with her new film ‘Season’s Greetings’, currently aired on Zee5.

Known for her roles in films like ‘No Entry, Apna Sapna Money Money, Thank you, Golmaal Returns’, the former beauty queen took a break from the film industry after she got married to Austrian hotelier Peter Haag. Now a mother to three adorable boys, Celina reveals that she left films due not because of her family commitments, but for being typecast in Bollywood.

Read more in our conversation with her from Austria where she tells us about her role in ‘Season’s Greetings’, her work as a goodwill ambassador for LGBT rights, her lockdown experience and how she manages three boys so close to age. 

Welcome back to cinema with ‘Season’s Greetings’. What aspect of the script made you plan a comeback?

Thank you. This movie is a calling from beyond. A calling of four very important people in my life who are no more.

I was initially not a part of this film. The director Ram Kamal and I were discussing something else, when he suddenly popped up with this script! But after reading it, I realised that it’s God’s own way of saying that I need to take this equal rights LGBTQI movement for which I have been a spokesperson for 18 years ahead.

There was also another reason why I wanted to do this film. I recently lost my mother, and could relate to the intense mother daughter relationship. I had tears rolling down, as I was going through the character graph of the daughter in the film.

Abolishment of section 377 by Supreme Court is a historical decision, and the film deals with every aspect of LGTBQIA. A famous gay Kolkata based make-up artist was a mother figure to me in my struggling days as a model in Kolkata. Having closely seen his trials and tribulations as a gay middle aged man turning senior citizen hit a chord with me. Incidentally, at the same time I was in a traumatic relationship with a closeted gay man. At 16 you think prayers and shamans can fix this but these two people’s untimely death a few years later made me realise that everyone has the right to life and choose whom they can have a relationship with and I have to do something about it. After 12 years as an activist, United Nations appointed me as a goodwill ambassador for the same cause and today we have come a full circle after abolishment of section 377. Needless to say, this script was a calling from beyond.

Your character in the film is of a modern and outspoken woman who believes in equality. How would you describe the same characteristics come in play in respect to the relationship with your mother?

Ram Kamal nailed a very important aspect of a modern parent – child relationship in this film.

My modern and liberated character is two faced when it comes to my own parent. I am uneasy seeing my mother making life choices and decisions that don’t suit me or my preconceived notions about my parent’s life and my mother’s personal decisions. We grow up thinking our parents don’t understand our struggles, but the truth is they made sure we never felt theirs.

You are also as a goodwill ambassador for LGBT rights. As an activist and actor, how far do you think this film will go in supporting their rights?  

                                                 

As a UN equality champion I have always believed combating discrimination of any kind requires a change not just in laws and policies but in hearts and minds tooChanging attitudes is never easy but it has happened on other issues and it is happening already in many parts of the world. It begins with difficult conversations. There is nothing more powerful than the medium of cinema in our country. Season’s Greetings definitely has the ability to stir a need for those difficult but necessary conversations in its own subtle way. By God’s Grace we have seemed to have achieved touching the hearts of all critics and viewers with our humble project.

You quit Bollywood after marriage and kids. Do you miss the glamourous lifestyle of Bollywood in Austria?

Even without films contrary to what people may think I continued to have a very glamorous lifestyle. I wasn’t in it only for the glam and the glitz, films have always lit a fire in my soul. I didn’t leave films because I got married and had kids, I was exhausted having been in the limelight since the age of 15-16 and in Bollywood I was being type cast. I came from a very humble army background and initially had no one to guide me in my journey.

It became frustrating that no one was willing to give the actor in me a chance, people only wanted a plastic doll on screen. Hence I took a conscious decision to not to return to cinema when I got married. However, my mother never gave up on me and her last wish was I return to cinema.

How was your experience with the lockdown and home schooling in Austria?

The Austrian Federal Government reacted promptly and was the first to implement extensive measures to contain the spread of the virus, given the close proximity to Italy.

Life on the Alpine mountains is blessed. We have beautiful mountains, brooks, orchards, gardens and a winter garden within our property for fresh air and games. I took great pleasure in home schooling the boys and also teaching them Sanskrit and Hindi besides their school curriculum. The boys are fascinated by their half Indian culture so I’m making the most of this opportunity to teach them about Indian history.

What’s your secret mantra of managing three boys so close to age!

It’s teamwork, patience and thousand rounds of “incy wincy spider”, “peppa pig” and being knee deep in Lego Technique. It’s chaotic but it’s a blessed chaos, alpine lifestyle offers amazing opportunities to be one with nature and that’s a big help. My husband says “experience wildlife. raise twins.” However, we have twins plus one so it’s a jungle out here!

What kind of films would you like to do in future?          

I am very cautious of the work I undertake now. I have spent too many efforts on things that didn’t bare fruition. I want to work with some great technicians internationally and regional as well. Cinema is a lifelong affair, it will only end with my passing.

 

 

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Posted by on Jun 11 2020. Filed under Bollywood, Community, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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