There may be some actors in the Indian film industry, who hesitate to be called ‘religious’, they never like to attribute themselves to Hinduism. Bollywood actress Payal Rohatgi, on the other hand, proudly says she is Hindu by faith and Indian by nationality.
She takes immense pride in her identity. In her long career, the actress of national stature has worked in scores of Bollywood movies and Television serials thus has earned both fans and critics. She feels both well-wishers and critics are important in her life, as well-wishers motivate her while critics give a chance to learn more. In an interview with me Mrityunjay Chaubey for The Youth, Payal expresses her views on a wide range of issues.
The Youth: Welcome to The Youth. Is it fair to say that you have done a great many movies, however, Bigg Boss gave you a new level of recognition?
Payal Rohatgi: Yes, I have worked in films and reality shows but Bigg Boss is something (owing to which) the Indian audience knows me much more.
The Youth: The majority of Indians do not know that you have worked in reality shows as well. Could you mention some of them?
Payal Rohatgi: I partook, along with my fiancé Sangram, in Nach Baliye. I have done Survivor India- a show which was telecast on star plus- where I met Sangram. We spent some 20 days in a jungle of Philippines. It’s saddening that people prefer gossip shows such as Big Boss, and overlook authentic shows.
TheYouth: Many fans of Bigg Boss may get angry with you because you appear to be critical thereof.
Payal Rohatgi: I criticize the show because it is a bad show. It was my first experience in the television world. I had no clue that they would edit specific footages and present me in a negative way. Viewers happen to watch one-hour footage which is amassed and reshaped by the production house.
The Youth: Before the interview, we talked to people. Some were of the opinion that they did not like you after Bigg Boss but they like you now because you are speaking up for the nation and religion. Do you reckon that you had a negative image previously?
Payal Rohatgi: I really don’t know why there was a negative image of mine, maybe ill-luck would have it. I always believe in Karma. We all grew up as secular Indians. A sense of shame was infused in us in attributing ourselves to Hinduism throughout our childhood.
The Youth: Your critics may allege you that you are not doing all this for Hinduism or for the country, you are doing it for your fame. How do you respond to that?
Payal Rohatgi: At least I am doing something, which they are not doing. I do not waste my time on thinking what others think of me.
The Youth: Do you see any changes in the country after 2014?
Payal Rohatgi: Of course I do. Hindus are now aware of a lot of things. Lal Bahadur Shashtri, for example, mysteriously died in Tashkent and the death reason was hidden from ordinary citizens. Why emergency was imposed in India, What happened to Syama Prashad Mukherjee. Now every Indian knows it.
The Youth: Recently controversial actor Ajaz Khan hurled abuses at you and you responded to him. Is there any backstage conversation between you two- that you both will attack each other to draw public attention?
Payal Rohatgi: No, I met Ajaz Khan in the show you mentioned (Bigg Boss) where he had participated. Since he called me a B grade actress, people must know he also worked in the movies, where I was the lead and he worked as a side villain. Why would I tolerate someone’s nonsense? Ergo I replied to him (in the language he understands).
The Youth: Do you have any ambition at all to join politics?
Payal Rohatgi: I have an ambition to stay happy. If I happen to join it, it will merely be a part of my destiny. My destiny can only be determined by my God, not human beings. If someone wants call me fake, they are welcome. I can’t comment on what I will do or become tomorrow, it all depends on what my Lord decides for me.
The Youth: Please make it clear- do you have any ambition?
Payal Rohatgi: I said I have an ambition that is why I am a working woman. I started working in movies, reality shows at the age of 20 and now I am active on social media because I want to raise awareness in the society. I didn’t know that my fan following would boom all of a sudden. When I spoke my heart out in the video, I felt bad about things I had experienced. Why do they slaughter cows openly, despite the fact that the very animal is considered ‘Holy’ by a vast majority of Hindus? Don’t they know their act may hurt religious sentiments of millions in India? Do they have guts to speak on things which are sensitive for Muslims? When I asked these questions, some trolled me. Did I have no right to pose questions freely? Freedom of speech cannot be one way traffic.
The Youth: They claim that slaughtering cows is their right, on the other hand, if somebody draws a cartoon they argue it’s about their faith. If drawing cartoons can hurt their sentiments, how come they can justify slaughtering cows? Do you think it’s their double standard?
Payal Rohatgi: Precisely, and this is what I expose. Because I never fear or worry about my career- I don’t care whether I get movie offers or not. Nobody has rights to poke fun at my religion. Surprisingly, when jokes are thrown back at them, they feel offended. You can’t make fun of Hindu Gods just because they are in majority. They know when to play their minority card and when to laugh at our religion. Additionally, there are 8 states in India where Hindus are in minority, and yet they have no such rights. Why?
The Youth: Payal, we appreciate your honest replies to our questions. Thanks for your precious time.
Payal Rohatgi: Thank you so much.