EXCLUSIVE: Mandakini on surviving in male-dominated industry: ‘Agar koi ladki unko pasand nahi hai…’
Mandakini opened up about the lack of choice for actresses and surviving in a male-dominated industry in the 1980s.
Veteran actor Mandakini is famous for her role in Raj Kapoor’s 1985 film Ram Teri Ganga Maili opposite Rajiv Kapoor. While the actress made her film debut in the same year with Mera Saathi, it was Ram Teri Ganga Maili that made her a household name. Mandakini has made a comeback recently with the song, Maa O Maa, and in an exclusive conversation with Pinkvilla, the actress opened up about surviving in a male-dominated industry in the 1980s, and the lack of choice for actresses back then.
While speaking to Pinkvilla, Mandakini said that the 1980s was a very different time and that it was a male-dominated period. She mentioned that back then, heroines were needed only for 3-4 songs and a few romantic scenes. In fact, she also said that it was heroes who used to decide which actresses they wanted to work with. If the hero did not like the actress, they would ask for the heroine to be changed. “Heroes hi mostly decide karte the kinke saath kaam karna hai, kinke saath nahi. Ek aisa time bhi tha. Agar koi unko ladki pasand nahi hai toh who bolte the ‘nahi inko mat lo. Dusre ko le lo.’” When asked if she faced this, Mandakini said 'Once or twice'.
She also talked about the pay disparity and how the actresses were only paid Rs 1-1.5 lakh for the entire movie. Mentioning that actresses would often get replaced within 2-3 days if someone else agreed to charge less for the role, she said, “Say someone narrated a movie, and I accept. Just within 2-3 days, they would announce the movie with someone else.” When asked, the producers and directors would tell her that she charged Rs 1.5 lakh, while someone else agreed for Rs. 75 thousand.
“Unko heroine se matlab tha. Humko bas 2-3 gaane karaane hai, ye nahi karegi toh wo karegi. Jo sabse kam me aaye, usko le lo. Ye mindset tha directors aur producers ka,” she said.
On the work front, Mandakini recently featured in the music video titled Maa O Maa, where she is seen sharing screen space with her son Rabbil Thakur. She was last seen in the 1996 film Zordaar.