This year, my interview proved to be a very seamless and easy process, and for that I am thankful!
The hardest part was definitely thinking of the dominant focus and purpose of my interview. I knew there would hardly be anyone alive today that is an expert on Mastani herself, so I had to get a little creative with the links I was making. Soon, my thought process led me to what started it all, and how I got to thinking of Mastani in the first place. I owe it all to a Bollywood movie I had the pleasure of watching, Bajirao Mastani.
I was first introduced to this tale of Mastani through this movie and had been intrigued ever since. This particular film primarily focuses on Bajirao and Mastani’s love story, but still sheds a lot of light on who Mastani was. The director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, puts a lot of work into the research conducted beforehand to make it as historically accurate as possible, making this film a great resource for me and my project. It was a humongous hit, and for good reason too!
Anyways, back to the interview. I realized that if it hadn’t been for this movie, I may never have learned about Mastani and her incredible story. I wanted to talk to someone about the importance of bringing historical tales to modern media, and how the Bollywood industry can influence that. Although it does not directly tie into my research, I was confident that I could get something very insightful out of this interview to implement into this project. Whether it be a small aspect of my learning center, part of my speech (if I choose to do it from the perspective of after her death, which I was debating at the time), or just a way to help me grasp this entire concept a little better – it should be beneficial.
Luckily, I was right! My interviewee was very gracious to accept my offer to interview him and provide me with well thought out answers. His name is Pranav Kaintura, and he is one of my mother’s colleagues. My mother works at a radio station called RED FM, which stands for Reflecting Ethnic Diversity. It has many multicultural features, but it is mainly a South Asian station. I knew that someone who worked there as a host would know a lot about the Bollywood industry as they are people who see the direct repercussions of Bollywood hit movies with song requests going up, more feedback being sent in, and analysis of particular statistics. They would have knowledge about how Bollywood movies affect the audiences who watched them and would have great insight into the movie itself as part of their job is to stay updated with Bollywood films.
My mom brought me to her workplace one fine weekend as I randomly decided to accompany her, and that’s where I met him. I was lucky to happen to meet him that day, otherwise, I may have never found this opportunity. It was almost two weeks ago, on the 22nd of October, but I knew he would be a great person to interview and I discussed the matter with him right then and there (hence the preluding in the beginning of my email). I decided to ask him about how Bollywood influences its crowd, why that is important, and questions about the movie at hand itself. He is very knowledgeable about the topics he covered during his show, which included Bollywood. Here’s how the interview played out (over email):
On Wed, Nov 2, 2016 at 11:49 PM, Hira Lalani <email@example.com> wrote:
It was very nice to be introduced to you by your colleague, my mom. As indicated in the brief meeting we had, I am sending you the questions revolving around ‘Bajirao Mastani’ and the Bollywood industry.
Thank you in advance for aiding me in my eminent study, dedicating your time and consideration to this interview is greatly appreciated.
Here are the questions I have written up for you:
I’m sure you have watched the film ‘Bajirao Mastani.’ What was your initial reaction after watching it?
Were you familiar with this story before watching the film?
Just out of curiosity, what do you interpret as the central theme of Bajirao Mastani?
What role do you think Bollywood plays in bringing forgotten yet impactful historical tales into the light?
How do you think movies like these resonate with people after they watch it? Is it simply entertainment, or does it go beyond that?
As a music show host, did you see visible repercussions of the impact of the film after it was released?
There are a vast amount of vehicles used to reach out to people in today’s modern media. Do you think filmography is one of the best ways to educate people?
The time period, the narrative arc, and the music of the plot are all unfamiliar to today’s audiences – yet why did this movie have such an impact?
On Thu, Nov 3, 2016 at 1:11 PM, Pranav Kaintura <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
You are very welcome, Hira. I am happy to help.
Q1. Yes, I have watched the film, and my initial reaction surpassed all the expectations I had since I heard this film was being made.While I was watching Bajirao Mastani, I actually forgot that I was sitting in a theater! The experience was so intriguing that it took me to that particular era and into the heart and mind of Mastani.
Q2. To be honest, no… although I have read and studied quite a bit of Indo-Pak history, I seemed to have missed reading about this character. Having watched the film, she is now the most ‘alive’ in my head. And I am sure I shall remember this story for years to come, and I feel a semi-permanent impression left on my mind.
Q3. Though it is a personal interpretation, I feel the theme was:
Love understands no boundaries. Love is one of most powerful human emotions, it does not make one weak. It empowers those in love, and love does not breathe within a particular culture/religion/gender/marital status. Whether you’re a warrior, head of state, man/woman, housewife, love can take birth in any heart.
Q4. A huge and positive role, I must say! Films are an excellent way to portray history. People seldom pick up such epic stories and sit down to read but when it’s screened as a film, it reaches out to all, young and old. People belonging to a country or culture which is depicted in the film feel a sense of belonging and pride after watching such stories which makes one realize how rich history has been. Yet, of course, it also depends on individual minds and how each mind interprets what is screened.
Q5. Well, the majority of the audience does come in to be entertained. The way marketing for films is done these days, entertainment is the first word promoters aim for. But once the audience watches the film, absorbs the facts and effects, then it hits them what a significant tale they have been exposed to! Virtues like honesty, bravery, protecting one’s honor and rights go beyond the limits of time and gender. Mastani is now alive in many women, inspiring them to do what your conscience feels is right and not let how people view you be a drawback.
Q6. I definitely noticed an ‘audible’ response, in terms of the number of requests I would receive from listeners who wanted to hear the song from the film again and again. That’s what made me realize how popular this film made Mastani! It’s not just enjoying the songs, because every time you hear them, one is reminded of the powerful story too. As far as visible repercussions are concerned, one does see an influence on fashion! Things showcased in the film tend to become a popular trend, such as Mastani’s iconic hat. To me, this is probably a ‘wannabe’ attitude too, don’t you agree?
Q7. Today, if not the most, then definitely one of the most powerful media for mass communication is cinema! Prior to that, there was and still is books, radio, drama/stage acting, television programs, etc. Cinema has the visual and digital sound advantage, brings songs to life, and is able to reach out to many. It is an excellent educational tool, it gives voice to and possible solutions to prevalent issues that majority of the population still faces in general.
Q8. Today’s Bollywood films mostly focus on songs, dance, fashion, modern times, and fiction. I feel this story being non-fiction touched many hearts along with serving a good dose of songs and dances. It is the diverse nature of the film that worked as a magnet, I suppose. It takes one back into time but one sees reality and eternally impactful messages in it too.
On Thu, Nov 3, 2016 at 10:06 PM, Hira Lalani <email@example.com> wrote:
Thank you so much for your answers, Pranav!
I very much appreciate you taking time out of your day to help me with my project, your answers will help me greatly! I will send you the link to my blog once I have completed this project. Thanks again.
I was incredibly happy with the answers Pranav had provided! His interpretation of the theme itself was also very beautiful, and I definitely intend using that in my speech. It really made me realize how much modern media can bring awareness to things that would never have been dug up, and makes me happy that more people know about Mastani, thanks to this movie. I’m not sure exactly where I will take all of this new information, but I do know that I have learned more about the Bollywood industry. This will prove to beneficial in the future, anyways, because of my personal interests. It was also interesting to see the impact Mastani left on Pranav, confirming her eminence.
All in all, I’d say this was a very fruitful interview!