May 132018
 

In the third season, ‘India’s Best Dramebaaz’ aims to provide pure entertainment along with grooming the abilities of many acting enthusiasts to become future superstars

Shantanu Maheshwari
Shantanu Maheshwari

TV actors Shantanu Maheshwari and Vignesh Pandey are on board to host Season 3 of “Indias Best Dramebaaz”. The show, in its previous seasons, has groomed many budding child actors like Kartikey Raj, Tamanna Dipak, Kartikey Malviya and Praneet who have carved a niche for themselves in the entertainment industry.

In the third season, “India’s Best Dramebaaz” aims to provide pure entertainment along with grooming the abilities of many acting enthusiasts to become future superstars, read a statement. “I am extremely happy to be a part of this season of ‘India’s Best Dramebaaz’. I have always loved the show as it brings out the best talent hidden in the children of our nation and I personally love interacting with kids,” said Shantanu.

Vignesh believes the show is going to be a huge hit. “I, or for a matter of fact a Ventriloquist, is hosting a television show for the first time and I am nervous and excited at the same time,” he said.

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May 102018
 

Avengers: Infinity War topples The Jungle Book to emerge as the highest grossing international film by hitting Rs 200.39 crore so far

Avengers: Infinity War

Even on home turf, Bollywood’s superstars have been unable to match up to the bevy of superheroes that graced our cinema halls two weeks ago. Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War has become the first Hollywood film, and the only other movie after Padmaavat, to breach the Rs 200 crore mark at the domestic box office. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus, which hit screens in January, earned Rs 302.15 crore.

With this feat, Infinity War has toppled The Jungle Book [Rs 180 crore] to emerge as the highest grossing Hollywood film in India by hitting Rs 200.39 crore so far.

Trade analyst Amod Mehra says, “It is amazing yet astonishing to see a Hollywood film doing such good business. The film has been doing well at both, single screens and multiplexes. The Indian film industry needs to pull up its socks. We need more films like Dangal or a Baahubali [to match up to their creations].”

Interestingly, Avengers: Infinity War, which entered its third week today, continues to carry promise for theatre owners. “We’ve received a decent response to advance booking for Avengers for the next three days as well.”

Also read: Marvel film Avengers: Infinity War now fastest film to earn USD 1 billion worldwide

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May 032018
 

By featuring the desi character in her upcoming summer clothing line, Anushka Sharma hopes Indian cartoon characters can become as popular as their western counterparts

Anushka Sharma
Anushka Sharma

Taking inspiration from the West, where comic characters, like Mickey Mouse, make great sales for the fashion industry, Anushka Sharma hopes our desi Suppandi can also acquire global fame. The upcoming collection of her clothing line, Nush, will feature the character from Tinkle comics across a gamut of pieces.

Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse

A source, who has worked on the clothing line, tells mid-day that making Suppandi the star of the collection was Sharma’s brainchild. “While brainstorming on this year’s collection, Anushka came up with the idea of celebrating Indian summer. She said that, as a child, one thing she loved doing in this season was laze around at noon and read the comic books. She loved reading about Suppandi.” In an effort to promote Indian culture, Sharma, the source says, wants to promote the character like the West does Mickey Mouse and other iconic caricatures.

Suppandi
Suppandi

The line is scheduled to be available from May 9. While the actor will head to Alabama for a month-long schedule of her next film, Zero, she will use her time on the international shore to promote her attires too. “While she will promote the line extensively when she returns, even when in the US, she will sport pieces from the collection,” the source adds.

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Apr 302018
 

The two-day India collection of Hollywood venture outshines that of Bollywood hits Baaghi 2, Padmaavat

Avengers
Avengers

Rewriting the rules of the Indian trade market, the Hollywood superhero trailer Avengers: Infinity War earned the highest two-day figure since its release in India on Friday. It outshined the collections of Bollywood biggies like Padmaavat and Baaghi 2.

With a collection of Rs 61.58 crore over two days of its release – earning Rs 31.3 crore on Friday and Rs 30.25 on Saturday – the coveted third instalment of the franchise has significantly left behind two of the highest grossing Indian films of the year so far. Tiger Shroff’s actioner and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s venture earned Rs 45.5 crore and Rs 56 crore respectively during that period. The Marvel franchise is even expected to beat the earnings of The Jungle Book (2016), which, with its lifetime earning of Rs 180 crore, has remained the highest earning Hollywood venture until now.

Padmavat
Padmavat

Trade analyst Amod Mehra says hitting the Rs 200-crore mark should be no mean feat for the film. “It is smashing records. I am sure it will seamlessly enter the Rs 200-crore club.”

Baaghi 2
Baaghi 2

Mehra acknowledges that not all international releases can enjoy the kind of attention that Marvel’s latest offering does. But, he points out that the film has earned this amount by releasing in a mere 2,000 screens. “When compared to the average screens that a Salman Khan or Aamir Khan film releases in [averaged at about 4,000 screens], this one has done well.”

Echoing a similar thought, distributor-exhibitor Akshaye Rathi says, “The film is not only ruling the world, but is creating fireworks in the domestic market.”

Also Read: Yesteryear actress Mumtaz tells fans she’s hale and hearty in this video

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Apr 032018
 

Baahubali star Prabhas has made the nation go crazy with his magnum opus personality and Indian Prince charming attitude

Prabhas
Prabhas

In a recent survey conducted by a leading TV channel, Prabhas has emerged to be the actor responsible for increasing the nation’s BP. Sony MAX conducted a survey amongst its viewers wanting to know the most popular actor of the audience’s choice. While the competitors included names like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Ranveer Singh, Varun Dhawan, Akshay Kumar and Ranbir Kapoor, Prabhas has raced past everyone to claim the spot.

One of the most desirable men in India, Prabhas has a tremendous fan following across the nation as well as the world. The Baahubali star turned into a nationwide sensation after the release of Baahubali: The Beginning, the sequel further elevated the popularity and stardom of the actor.

Baahubali star Prabhas has made the nation go crazy with his magnum opus personality and Indian Prince charming attitude. Baahubali franchise proved to be a massive success becoming India’s favourite movie and making Prabhas a national phenomenon.

Prabhas became India’s most eligible bachelor post his stint in the magnum opus and continues to rule millions of hearts till date

Prabhas’s next big outing is the high octane action thriller, trilingual film, Saaho which he is currently shooting for. The teaser of the film has already garnered huge response and there is great anticipation for the film already.

Also read: Baahubali star Prabhas’ wax statue at Madame Tussauds, Bangkok a hit

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Mar 182018
 

Bollywood’s star singer Arijit Singh explains why he enjoys gigs, and how he overcomes anxiety

Arijit Singh
Arijit Singh

“I am a bundle of nerves before hitting the stage,” admits Arijit Singh, with a shy smile. And yet, on stage, it’s a different story altogether – he has left his fans across India swooning with Arijit Singh MTV India Tour, a 10-city gig that kicked off in Kolkata last December. As he gears up for the final leg in Mumbai on March 24, Arijit Singh talks to mid-day about performing live and his learnings from the tour.

Your first multi-city tour in India is about to end. How was the experience?
It was a larger-than-life experience; one of the best I’ve had in a long time. I wanted to reach out to my fans across the country and this was a great way to get close to them. I am glad I got a chance to perform for them in their own cities.

What has been your takeaway from the tour?
I have overcome my nervousness of performing live on stage. The tour marked an amazing start to the year for me as well. I am taking away a lot of happy memories.

Where are you more comfortable — inside a studio or on the stage?
Being inside a studio and performing live are two completely different experiences, and I enjoy both. Performing live is like inviting people over for a house party, where I can sing my heart out while people around join it. When I am on stage, I make sure I interact with the audience. Studio recordings, on the other hand, are technical.

Any incident during the tour that touched you as an artiste?
The stadium at Ahmedabad was huge and I didn’t expect so many people to turn up. I felt numb initially, but the love of my fans helped me overcome the nervousness. We had a blast. The gig was challenging, yet memorable.

Despite spending seven years in B-Town, you feel nervous before hitting the stage…
Yes, I do. But when I see thousands of fans cheering for me and appreciating my music, it’s so overwhelming that I forget about the nervousness, and start enjoying the whole experience.

Do you follow a certain routine before going on stage?
Not really. Before getting on the stage, I only think about the different possibilities [that may play out during the act]. Ek basic vision samajh main aata hai ki yahan yahan pe loopholes hain, so I make mental calculations accordingly to prevent them. There are no preparations as such. Also, to keep my voice intact, I usually avoid drinking cold water and soda before the show.

Also Read: Arijit Singh finds an admirer in Pakistani crooner Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

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Mar 012018
 

sri_funeralEnd Of An Era As B-Town Celebs And Fans Come Together To Bid Final Adieu To Superstar Sridevi

She had a knack for bringing us together – every time she appeared on the big screen, we, in unison, would be left captivated by her charms. And she did it yesterday again – brought the country together as it bid the final goodbye to India’s first female superstar, Sridevi.

A sea of fans had gathered outside The Celebration Sports Club in Andheri from as early as 4 am yesterday, waiting to catch one last glimpse of Sridevi. The mortal remains were kept at the club, minutes away from her Lokhandwala home, so that fans could pay their last respects to the star who had enthralled them for the past four decades. More than 200 policemen were present at the venue to keep the teeming crowd in check. The hall had three entry points – one each for VIPs, the media and the public.

Inside the hall, Sridevi’s mortal remains were draped in a red Kanjivaram saree with a bindi on her forehead. Sonam and Rhea Kapoor were by daughters Janhvi and Khushi’s side as the two were inconsolable, while Boney Kapoor put on a brave front. Anil and Sanjay Kapoor received the guests. Rani Mukerji, who has often expressed her admiration for the superstar and shared a deep friendship with her, lent her support to the family.

sridevi_

Bollywood came out in full force to pay homage to the actor, who left behind a legacy that very few will be able to match. Madhuri Dixit Nene, who enjoyed a healthy competition with the superstar in their heydays, was one of the first to arrive with husband Sriram Nene.

From yesteryear actors like Hema Malini, Rekha and Rakesh Roshan to the current crop including Ajay Devgn and Kajol, Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor, B-Town celebs grieved the loss of one of the brightest talents.

Jaya Bachchan walked in with daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai while an emotional Vidya Balan came to bid adieu to her idol. Manish Malhotra, who considered Sridevi his muse and his closest friend, is said to have broken down in the final moments.

At the end of the condolence meet, the icon, who was conferred with Padma Shri in 2013, was given state honours as the Mumbai police offered her the Guard Of Honour and draped her body in the tricolour.

The actor began her final journey as mourners kept jostling for space to catch a glimpse of her cortege as it slowly made its way through the city to the Vile Parle crematorium. Some of the fans even tried to break through the barricades, forcing the police to resort to lathicharge. The body of the 54-year-old, who died in Dubai on Saturday, was taken in a hearse that was bedecked in white flowers. Her filmmaker husband, along with Arjun Kapoor, and other family members were beside her in the hearse.

Several stars including Amitabh Bachchan, Jeetendra, Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Rohit Shetty and Farhan Akhtar came to the crematorium for the last rites. The surging crowd made it difficult for the stars to reach the venue. In fact, Sonam too had a tough time to reach the crematorium. After a few rituals, Boney preformed the mukhaagni [last rites] bidding the final adieu to his wife.

As an important chapter of his life came to an end, Boney issued a statement saying, “I am blessed to have the support of Arjun and Anshula [Kapoor, Boney’s children], who have been such pillars of strength for myself, Khushi and Janhvi. Together as a family we have tried to face this unbearable loss… To the world she was their Chandni, but to me she was my love, mother to our girls… She was the axis around which our family ran… Rest in peace, my love.

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Feb 232018
 

Baaghi 2 marks second collaboration between makers Sajid Nadiadwala and Vijay Singh after Judwaa 2. The duo touts this film to be India’s biggest action film

Baaghi 2
Tiger Shroff and Disha Patani in a still from Baaghi 2’s trailer.

Marking the second collaboration after Judwaa 2, Sajid Nadiadwala and Vijay Singh presented the trailer of India’s biggest action film Baaghi 2 recently. Both Sajid and Vijay have collaborated and taken the Baaghi franchise a notch higher and delivered a never seen before action film on the screen and have delivered India’s biggest action film Baaghi 2.

Speaking about the collaboration Vijay Singh shared,”We are very clear that we want to be a very significant part of Bollywood and we understand that to achieve this objective, we do our films, like Jolly LLB etc, but more importantly, I think it’s about working with the best people in the industry and I think that’s where this relationship with Sajid becomes really special”

The trailer of the film showcases jaw-dropping and never seen before high octane action sequences. Sajid Nadiadwala is one of the most prominent producers of Bollywood and has a track record of delivering blockbuster hit films.

Watch the trailer here:

[embedded content]

On the other hand, Fox Star Studios have always been known to produce successful films pertaining to different genres.

The trailer of Baaghi 2 was released on Wednesday and was launched on a grand scale and has received a thumbs up from the audience and critics too. The action-packed trailer showcases the return of Ronnie played by Tiger Shroff as he sets out to find a small girl named Riya.

Also Read: Action-Packed Baaghi 2 Trailer Kicks Up A Storm Rakes In 60 Million Views

The film also features Disha Patani in a lead role, Disha is playing the role of Neha who is the love interest of Ronnie in Baaghi 2. The high-octane action thriller also features Manoj Bajpayee, Randeep Hooda and Prateik Babbar in pivotal roles.

Co-Produced by Fox Star Studios and Sajid Nadiadwala under the banner name Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment, ‘Baaghi 2’ is directed by Ahmed Khan and is slated to release on 30th March 2018.

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Feb 142018
 

in the ongoing one-day series

Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan is proud of the India cricket team for beating South Africa in the ongoing one-day series. Big B took
to social media to express his excitement and praise the players. “India wins ODI series in SoAf.. outplays, outsmarts, outshines South Africa.. creates history.. silences bias critics and commentators.. You are just a superior team. Congratulations to the men in blue.. maar maar ke neela kar diya South Africa ko (sic).”

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Jan 302018
 

Known to be reticent, naturally shying away from public glare, one of India’s finest film actors opens up on her sabbaticals, cinema, and the showbiz sense of humour

Tabu at the third edition of Sit With Hitlist, before a live audience, at the mid-day office. Pics/Nimesh Dave
Tabu at the third edition of Sit With Hitlist, before a live audience, at the mid-day office. Pics/Nimesh Dave

It’s rather easy to hold a free-wheeling conversation with Tabu. Here’s why. She’s been around for over three decades, having done over 80 films, which would mean, a fair number of post-release rounds of press interviews across news/entertainment media. And yet, it’s incredible how little we know about her. The mystique, aura, whether planned or not, remains. And we can actually begin the chat with the most basic query, on her name. Hence the first question, and similar ones that follow!

Excerpts from the conversation

You’re Tabassum Fatima Hashmi, which is a beautiful name. How and why did you choose to call yourself Tabu in the first place?
It’s my pet name.

Sure, but it’s like Govinda calling himself Chi Chi on screen.
Tabu works though, you think? When I was working on my first film, as a child artiste [in Hum Naujawan, 1985], Dev [Anand] Saab thought Tabu was beautiful too, and that I should adopt it as my screen name, and that just never changed. Nobody had ever called me Tabassum, except for my teachers and school friends. And I came to Bombay right after school.

A common perception is that you started out as an outsider [from Hyderabad] to showbiz, Bombay. Goldie Anand’s wife was your mom’s friend. Shabana Azmi’s your aunt [mum’s first cousin]. You’ve worked with Dev Anand. Shekhar Kapur wished to cast you as a debuting lead [Shekhar himself is Dev Anand’s nephew]. Clearly you’re an insider!
That’s right. I think the impression of me being an ‘outsider’ comes from the fact that I never intended to be in the movies. I showed up here by circumstance, accident, you can say. I went back to school after finishing my first film, and I never wanted to come back.

Were you holidaying in Bombay when you got your first part?
We used to come every summer for our holidays, because my mum’s older brother, Ishaan Arya, was a DoP, he shot Garam Hawa [1973], Bazaar [1982]. I grew up with his sons Sameer and Sagar, we were like siblings. My sister [Farah] and I were at Dev Saab’s office, where he was taking a screen test, and because he thought she was so beautiful, he took her screen test as well. I did the movie. We forgot her screen test. She was 16.

And one day, we got a call from Yash Chopra. He told my mother about wanting to cast my sister [for the film Faasle, 1985], since Dev Saab had showed him her screen test. My mum didn’t know who Yash Chopra was, she checked with my aunt [Shabana], everyone was really excited. This is how my sister and mom moved to Bombay, and I was too attached to Hyderabad and my school, so I stayed back with my aunt for three years. By then my sister had done a thousand films, and become a big star. And due to my sister, there was natural curiosity in the industry if I’d like to act in films too.

Shekhar [Kapur] Uncle saw me, said I had to debut in [his film] Prem, which I said no to. He insisted that I do just this one film, and that he would then send me abroad for further studies. Which never happened. In fact, I did the film, and he ran away [from the project].

Tabu

That was a massive debut.
Yeah, it was huge.

Rather early in your career Gulzar called you a combination of Nutan, Meena Kumari and Nargis! Anyone would fall off their chair hearing that.
(Long pause) I don’t know what to say, I try and see it from the outside, and then hope to do my job well.

And ideally stay from the traps of showbiz?
My life is [in the] showbiz, it isn’t so separate from my work. Yet, regardless of my profession, I would still remain the same person — someone whose internal life, is distinct from the madness outside. And I’ve always been like this, through school, college. It takes me a long time to open up with people, media, work-associates… It’s just a personality type. I don’t have the bandwidth to be out there, be everything, to everyone.

You’re more the ‘board-game night with close friends’ kinda person?
I do that. I essentially like being with people I can laugh a lot with. And people in the movies [unlike in many other professions] generally have a sense of humour. There’s a common thread of jokes that exist in the film industry, with a very specific language.

Tabu

Give us an example.
“‘Cut to’ usne aise bol diya.” “Maine aise bola aur woh ‘stop block’ mein gayab ho gaya!” This is still ’90s, but there are really specific terms. “Arrey yar, yeh toh bahut bada twist aa gaya teri kahani mein!” “Yar, kya ‘game’ kiya usne girlfriend ki life mein!” “Uski band baj gayi…”

What I find amazing is how film critics go gaga analysing your performances, sub-text in your work, etc. But when you’re asked about films that you loved doing, you say Saajan Chale Sasural [1996], Biwi No. 1 [1999], and in a recent interview you said Jaal: The Trap [2003]. Have not even seen Jaal: The Trap, what’s this finest movie you’ve ever made?
(Laughs) Don’t exaggerate, I didn’t say Jaal: The Trap was the finest film ever! I think it was a great role for me to do, back in 2000, so early in my career, nobody had cast me like that. Mere role mein twist aa gaya! You just haven’t seen the movie, and so you don’t know. Didn’t it look like I was having fun in Biwi No. 1?

In Saajan Chale Sasural, the audience had fun, I had fun, the producers made money, it was a fun experience! It was a treat to watch Govinda take a scene to other levels. On paper, it would look like, okay, this is what’s going to happen, and it’s funny. But you would never be able to imagine the flavour Govinda would bring to a scene, turning it into something so tasty. And that’s his forté.

I know someone who hung out with you on the sets of Chandni Bar [2001]. What amazed him is that he’d be chatting with you, you’d go off, do an intense scene, and just come back to continue the chat. Does that switching on-off come naturally to you?
Gulzar Saab also used to say the same thing. Actually, I don’t know, I’ve really not been able to decode the process of acting. I’ve tried. I still don’t think I’d be able to articulate it [the process] into a few lines or paragraph. At all times, there’ve too many factors determining what I was doing, or how I was doing it — the inspirations, people I was surrounded by, what kind of access I had regarding a role.

I also don’t think you can carry around what you’ve given in a shot, because there’s a finish point with ‘cut’, and a beginning with ‘action’. And I don’t know what happens between the ‘action’ and ‘cut’. It’s just in front of the camera, after which the moment is over.

Tabu

Do you rehearse for that moment though?
The lines and movement, of course, you have to rehearse. But I really don’t know what’ll happen in the ‘take’. Even the director might give you different instructions in subsequent takes.I remember Ang [Lee] doing that [for Life Of Pi, 2012]. He would try the same shot with different interpretations to arrive at what he wants from a scene. For different actors, different kinds of briefs work. I don’t know what kind of actor I am. Only someone who’s observed me may be able to answer this. Also I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no right or wrong way of doing anything in life — as people as well, we’re evolving.

In action sequences, you obviously have to rehearse a lot. You can’t just show up and slap someone. Otherwise, sometimes you just lose it when you rehearse a lot, and at other times, you can only get it right once you rehearse a lot.

Tabu

Can you recall a character that you rehearsed extensively for?
You’re taking my exam.

Okay, did you rehearse a lot for Ashima’s role in The Namesake [2006]?
We just had one reading in New York. I got into the film just two weeks before the shoot’s start, which took me by surprise, and I was so not prepared for it. To my advantage, I had already done a film in Bangla [Abar Aranye, 2003], with Gautam [Ghose] Da, which I had dubbed myself. I had a certain understanding of the culture, people, and place — that really helped a lot during The Namesake. I also had a lot of friends to refer to, especially since there was no dubbing involved. The dialect was Bengali accented English specific to someone, who’s lived in New York from 1977-2005!

But The Namesake was an experience that changed a lot in me. There are milestones that you can look back on, and this film would be one of them. I was in America and didn’t know anyone except Irrfan [Khan]. The entire unit was American — no one making any filmy jokes! I lived in an apartment in New York, and the first 10 days were devastating. It was cold, snowing, my sisters were in California and Chicago, and I would call them and cry, because I could not get my favourite brand of corn flakes in the supermarket. I would ask them: How come the tea doesn’t taste like in California? This was my struggle.

Tabu

Those are serious first world problems. We feel sorry for you.
No, I thought it would’ve been better if I could bring my team along. But once we started shoot, came into a routine, it turned out to be the most valuable experience of my life. I made friends. We worked five days a week. I also learnt the way America approaches cinema, acting, style of shooting, contracts. The Screen Actors’ Guild [reps] would come and check on us. I still get residuals from The Namesake, almost twice or thrice a year, in dollars!

Every time we watch The Namesake on TV, something goes in your pocket.
Yes, you are paying me. That’s the way it should be, and I really respect that.

What are the other milestones you can think of?
From the beginning? Then it has to be Maachis [1996], Astitva [2000], Hu Tu Tu [1999], Chandni Bar [2001], and The Namesake, because of geographical exploration. Then Life Of Pi, and Cheeni Kum [2007], in a very nice way.

You’ve said that of all the characters, the one in Cheeni Kum has been the closest to you. What do you mean by that?
That is one character that I can identify with, in the sense that I could be that person.

Means you could fall for Amitabh Bachchan?
Of course. That is why I did the movie! I could totally fall for somebody like that, but has to be exactly like him. I could totally understand my character’s headspace, and I guess that’s why R Balki wrote the film keeping me in mind. Coming back to milestones: Haider [2014], and Maqbool [2003], definitely.

The first milestone for you, one imagines, would be Maachis, and your association with Gulzar. The two of you share a fabulous relationship. How did you first meet?
I still don’t know what made him [Gulzar] cast me in Maachis, and I still ask him that. At the time, my song, Ruk Ruk Ruk [from Vijaypath, 1994] and trailers of Pehla Pehla Pyar were on air — full-on dancing. But he still does not answer my question. It is now that I understand that the director, and the cinematographer, has a completely different perspective on an actor. They have an eye.

Vishal [Bhardwaj] has had the ability to see me in a very different light. I was caught off guard, when he approached me with Maqbool. It was like a drug to feel that someone looks at you like that. He could see the deep layers of madness, sexuality, lust. I felt completely bare with him. With Maqbool and Haider, I saw and met myself in so many different ways than I had ever known.

So Gulzar saw you in the promos of Pehla Pehla Pyar and called you up?
He called up Shabana aunty. I said, of course, I’d give anything to be a part of his film. He’s made films like Mausam [1975] and Angoor [1982] in which his characters are so real, and still they are the leads. So I went to meet him at his house. I always narrate this incident, as it is the strongest memory that I have: So he had a cold, and he kept sniffing into his handkerchief, I went and sat. We both just sat for an hour. And I was thinking, “Kya bolenge yeh mujhe. Main kya jawaab doongi [What’ll he say].” I was completely tongue-tied.

He’s sitting across you, sniffing, and you are just sitting too. I’m sure he must be reading something.
I think he was writing something, and I kept waiting. After an hour, I said, “Achha Gulzar saab.” And he was like, “Achha thik hai.” It was his way of saying that you are doing the film. Two-three days later, he handed me the script, which was such an ‘Oh My God’ moment. It was the first time I was holding a script.

First time holding a script. What are you saying?
Yes, after Prem.

Vijaypath didn’t have a script? They just told you, ‘Aap madam udhar se ayenge, or Ruk Ruk Ruk karenge’?
Aise dance karne ka, aur romace karne ka. I was like, “Yay, very good. Feels nice to dress up. Ajay Devgn is my friend [Laughs]. Outdoor main mazaa karenge [will have fun]. Pehla Pehla Pyar was shot in Switzerland, so I was jumping with joy.

You’re not making this up.
No, I was just too happy to be on sets. Chintuji [Rishi Kapoor] would offer me chocolate. Later he would instruct, “Seedhe khade reh [stand straight]!” But then Gulzaar Saab happened. So he read the script to Chandrachur Singh, and me. I didn’t understand what I was doing in the film. I couldn’t understand anything.

Were you intimidated?
The subject was so heavy, and deeply political, which you would get now. You can figure what the film meant to him, and what it was saying. Gulzaar Saab was obviously there like a father-figure, and he made it feel like a picnic. Then of course, my relationship with Gulzar Saab impacted me the most in life. I found a home in him. He’s somebody completely divorced from the craziness and predictability of the movie industry. He also encouraged me to write. He would give me blank notebooks, and after few months would ask me if the book was over.

What kind of writing?
Observations, encounters, experiences, and I would read to him. And he’d say, “Bohot achhe beta!” That meant everything to me.

In that sense, you’d say Maachis probably turned around how you perceived show-business in the first place. If we see your films before that, you really wanted to go to Switzerland, and have fun.
I still want to go to Switzerland. I think when you experience everything, you can enjoy everything. You can’t do that if you are putting yourself out there for one kind of experience alone. It’s going to exhaust you, and burn you out.

Is that why you take long sabbaticals?
This line is always thrown at me as an accusation. It’s a good thing though. I recommend it.

Is there another sabbatical coming up?
No. There’s so much time between films that I don’t have to consciously take a sabbatical. Anyway, films are so spaced out these days — nobody does 10, five, or even two films at a time.

But you’ve done that. In 1996, if I’m not mistaken, you had eight releases.
Yes, [I was doing] three shifts a day. I once had four releases on the same day. It was crazy, but it was the way it was. Also, you’re much younger and you have much more enthusiasm, and energy, to be everywhere, doing all that a young girl loves — wearing good clothes, romancing, acting.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in showbiz since the time you entered?
Social media. That’s the biggest change.

Can’t imagine you being active on social media.
I’m on Instagram. You don’t have to engage, opine, listen, and it doesn’t take up that much time. Another change is that everything, except the actual shoot, has become a project. It’s not just about the film, or the product anymore. The quality of preparation you put in post-shoot, and everything else, has also come into focus. So you don’t know where your actual energies are getting distributed.

Speaking of distributing energies, there was a time that you took a really long break to learn Spanish. Were you able to master it?
That was over 10 years ago, in 2004. I planned to finish everything in a year-and-half, and not work for a year — just not do movies for some time. But no, I’ve forgotten Spanish. [It’s] Only when I go to California and order food in a restaurant that I get to practice it.

How many languages do you know?
Telugu. I can speak Marathi; little bit of Tamil, and Malayalam. And Bengali, fluently.

For people who love your work, and have only seen your Hindi movies — could you recommend some of your non-Hindi films [a retrospective if you may]?
Ninne Pelladata [1996, Telugu], Kandukondain Kandukondain [2000, Tamil], Iruvar [1997, Tamil], Kaalapani [1996, Malayalam], Rakkilipattu [2007, Malayalam], Andarivaadu [2005, Telugu], Abar Aranye [2003, Bengali].

Audience Questions:

Did you plan how you wish to chalk out your career — follow a serious film with a light-hearted one?
I don’t think my generation of actors was the planning type. Because so much was happening, I was just doing what I wanted to do — sometimes because the money is good, or the role is great. I did Aamdani Atthani Kharcha Rupaiyaa [2001], for instance, especially because Raghavendra Rao was making it. That was my second film with him. I consider him my guru. My first film, Coolie No 1, was with him. I learnt stuff from him — that you should have your own house, own money. Be careful with your time. Always be punctual. Do your work, and not think about anything else. He’s taught me so many things about conduct: Always walk properly, dress well, look nice, and beautiful. Sleep on time. Enjoy life. Also he packs up at 5.30 pm, and would take us on picnics in Singapore!

Now we know how you can be cajoled into signing up for a film. Picnic pe chalte hai, picture banayenge!
Shopping karenge. Mall mein jayenge.

I was thinking about Drishyam [2015]. There was such a brilliant shift in your character — you had to be tough, still looking for your missing son.
I must say Drishyam is one of the most difficult characters I have done in recent times. I knew it was difficult for me to crack, because of the conflict in her personalities. She had to be this person [strict cop], and yet the vulnerable mother. And there was a danger of her becoming completely dark and negative. Which of course was not required, because you also have to see the vulnerability. I don’t think I’ve played somebody like her — so strong and correct. As an audience also you’re conflicted between wanting to hate her, but also understanding the pain. I don’t know how I did the role, but it was a journey.

-Transcribed by Mohar Basu, Sonil Dedhia and Sonia Lulla

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