Exclusive! Shweta Basu Prasad: Shukranu Is About An Ordinary Man In An Extraordinary Time

Shweta Basu Prasad tells us why Shukranu is a must-watch and why it was a smart decision to release the film on Valentine’s Day.

Kenneth Carneiro

February 1, 2020


7 min


Shweta Basu Prasad started her career as a child actor and won a National Award for Iqbal. With films like Tashkent Files, she proved her appetite for picking stories that out of the ordinary. She continues being a part of unique projects with Shukranu, a ZEE5 Original Film based on the life of one man affected by the forced sterilisations conducted during the Emergency.

At the ZEE5 February 2020 lineup launch, Shweta Basu Prasad introduced the movie along with her co-actors Divyenndu and Sheetal Thakur. She mentions that this film apart is tackling the serious subject with humour evident in the quirky tagline for the movie #PyaarKiKatiPatang.

Watch the teaser for Shukranu here.

1. What was the reaction you received for the trailer?

I think it’s obviously funny but I feel people were also quite intrigued by it. Because everyone knows about the emergency and the forced sterilisations. They can even find the numbers for it but I think people got intrigued by the perspective. Till now we have only seen the emergency discussed in a serious manner and to see it as a romantic comedy is quite a refreshing change.

2. Is that why you chose to do this film? Did you have any other reasons?

That was one of the reasons. But for me personally, I also wanted to do this film because it is set in the ’70s. I grew up watching the films from that era.

3. What did you do on set that made it look like the ’70s?

The looks feel real and belong to the era they are set in. Another thing on set was the props. You’ll see old cars, landline phones where you have to rotate each number to make a call, old transistor radios.

4. Did you know about the forced sterilisations before you read the script?

Yes, I had heard about it vaguely but not in detail. We all know about the emergency era with the numbers and statistics of things that happened at that time. Shukranu tells the story of one man, one family affected by the emergency. It’s very personal in it’s approach. It’s a story about an ordinary man in an extraordinary time.

5. Do you feel that using humour to talk about such an intense issue is making light of the subject or it helps reach more people? 

Of course, humour helps the movie appeal to a wider audience. Most stand-up comedians are very political and they use satire to make people think about the real problem. So on the face of it, Shukranu is a romantic comedy but it’s a sharp satire too.

6. You were in The Tashkent Files which was quite a polarising film too. What were the reactions you got for the movie? 

Tashkent Files was bound to be a controversial film because it is about the death of a politician. People can have their own viewpoints about different pieces of art. For Tashkent the reviews and reactions I received are all positive only. Plus I am an apolitical person. My views on politics are mostly for dinner-table conversations with family. Even my character in Tashkent Files is not taking any sides politically but only trying to find the real truth behind Shastri’s death, so that is one way I connected with the character.

7. You worked in different languages like Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and Bengali. Which language are you most comfortable with? 

I’ve been brought up watching Hindi movies, I speak Hindi fluently, so Hindi of course. Plus, I have not done that much work in the regional languages. However, I don’t think language is even a barrier anymore. So many people are doing good work and you can watch anything in your own language with dubbing or subtitles so I don’t see a point in restricting yourself.

8. You’ve worked in film TV and now even digital. Which has been the most enjoyable experience? 

All of them have been very enjoyable. I don’t think the medium or the platform has much to do with it because everyone watches everything on the phone now. I feel it is more about the people you work with and the projects you do. But yes, I will say digital content has really opened things up. I don’t know about anyone who is unemployed as an entertainer because there’s so much to do. Bollywood is opening up to different stories because digital content is giving it a competition. Even TV has started a limited series with fewer episodes. Digital content is making audiences more evolved with good quality entertainment at their fingertips. I’m not saying all digital content is good, but I do feel this is just the beginning and there is room for growth.

9. Was it a coincidence to release a film about sterilisations on Valentine’s Day? 

I don’t know about that because I was not part of the decision-making process but I can say that it is a very smart decision. I know I’ll be watching Shukranu on Valentine’s Day.

Join her in watching the unique romantic comedy Shukranu on ZEE5 this Valentine’s Day.

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