Bollywood actors do not really open up about their lives in interviews, these days. There are various reasons for this – social media, trolls and concerns for public image. Things were different in the past. We’ve had old female actors who did not shy away from voicing their opinions, popular or not, and give honest interviews.

1. When Rekha was honest about her relationship with Amitabh Bachchan.

In a throwback interview with Filmfare in November 1984, Rekha talked about Amitabh Bachchan’s denial about their affair. She said:

Why should he have not done it? He did it to protect his image, to protect his family, to protect his children. I think it is beautiful, I don’t care what the public thinks of it. Why should the public know of my love for him or his love for me? I love him, he loves me – that’s it! I don’t care what anybody thinks. 

2. When Smita Patil called out how women are often objectified to market films.

The interviewer asked Patil that how she let a semi-nude poster of the 1981 film Chakra, be shown to the country. In the poster, she was seen bathing in public. She was honest to say that if it had been her hands, she would have not let it happen.

Hindustan ke audience par ye baat force ki gayi hai ki dekhiye ji iss (film) mein toh sex hai. Isme toh aadhe nange shareer hain auraton ke, toh aap film dekhne ke liye aaiye. Ye ek aisi attitude ban gayi hai jo bohot galat hai… Hero ko toh nanga dikha nahi sakte, usse kuch hone vala bhi nahi hai. Lekin aurat ko nanga dikhaye to unhe lagta hai 100 log aur aa jayenge.

3. When Tabu spoke about how women are often paid much less than their male counterparts in the film industry despite putting in more effort.

The heroine doesn’t feel cold, the heroine doesn’t feel hot, the heroine doesn’t mind the rain. All the pain the heroine has to take, and get less money than the hero.

4. When Aishwarya Rai gave us a clear insight into how Bollywood often functioned.

5. When Dimple Kapadia spoke about the limited definition our film industry held of a ‘woman centric film.’

Well, they’ve just decided that a woman oriented script means that there has to be a rape and she has to take revenge. I mean that’s it. If anyone comes and tells me that we’ve got a female oriented script, I know at once what he’s talking about. 

6. When Ratna Pathak Shah spoke about how actors feel boxed in due to our society’s tendency to stereotype and also called out the horrible Bollywood scripts.

Talking to the Indian Express, Ratna opened up about how people perceive the actors portraying certain roles.

Unfortunately Hindi cinema thinks in stereotypes. They find it difficult to think outside stereotypes. In India we find it difficult to think outside stereotypes. I’m not responsible for other people’s lack of imagination.

She has often called out the dismal state of script writing in the Indian entertainment industry. Once speaking to Anupama Chopra for the Film Companion, she said:

They can barely write a good part for poor Deepika Padukone, so how are they going to write a good part for me?

7. When Konkona Sen Sharma confidently said that she feels she is quite good looking.

In a TOI interview, she was asked this incredibly ridiculous question, ‘You’re not good looking in the conventional Bengali way like your mother is. How has that affected you’? To this she responded:

My mother is gorgeous and I consider myself to be her biggest fan. I don’t compare myself to her in terms of looks or career and we don’t have to follow the same trajectory. She is a part of me. Also, I am a fairly confident person and I find myself quite good looking.

8. When Madhuri Dixit opened up about deciding to not do any kiss scenes after Dayavan.

Being one of the first heroines of her generation to do a kissing scene in Dayavan, the interviewer asked her if she regretted doing it.

When I look back, I think I should have just said, ‘No, I don’t want to do it.’ I didn’t know anything about the industry and its operative norms. I didn’t know at that time that you could say no to do kissing scenes. So I did it. But later when I saw the film, I wondered why did I do it? The kiss didn’t add anything to the film. So I decided to put my foot down on doing any more kissing scenes and never did another again.

9. When Urmila Matondkar expressed her views on motherhood fearlessly.

In an interview with ETimes, she was asked if she was looking forward to motherhood. To this she replied,

It’s not necessary for every woman to be a mother. Motherhood should happen for the right reason. I love children. But there are so many children out there who need our love and care. It’s not necessary that they be born from you.
Tribune India

10. When Juhi Chawla was brave enough to accept that she made a lot of foolish mistakes because of her ego.

My world just revolved around me. I was shy and I took my work very seriously but beyond that I was scared of being too successful. But it was all about me, me and me!. The sun is shining only for me. Main hi hu aur kuch maine kabhi dekha hi nahi tha.
Bollywood Hungama

11. When Zeenat Aman talked about the power dynamics that existed between women and men in the film industry, during the 1970s.

Films are financed by men, written by men and mostly about men. Leading men were always paid a lot more than the leading ladies. There were very few films that were women-oriented or where we had skilful female technicians at the time. But there has been a change and I am really happy for that. 

12. When Sharmila Tagore said that female actors are sidelined in Bollywood after a certain age.

She was asked why she doesn’t appear in films these days.

It happens to all actresses beyond a certain age in our cinema… Whereas the rules are different for Mr. Bachchan. He has directors like Shoojit Sircar calling him ‘Sir’ and writing roles for him. I mean, Mr. Bachchan is definitely an icon. But the rules are different for the actresses. I believe Ribhu Dasgupta’s film Te3n was a remake of a Korean film. The original female protagonist has been turned into a male to accommodate Mr. Bachchan.

Kudos to these women who always spoke the truth.