Posts tagged Interview
Insists Asin, the chatty girl-next-door who talks rather emphatically about her dad being non-interfering and “friends” Aamir Khan and Sallu. Dhoni though remains a tricky subject
Asin lives up to her character Kalpana in Ghajini and is quite talkative in real life too. The more she talks, the better for us! Excerpts from a chat:
After your blockbuster Ghajini, we just saw you in London Dreams, which was a dud, and then you disappeared. Why?
I need to get excited to work in a project or with a team of people. It doesn’t really matter if you come out with a good film after a long gap. I think you should enjoy what you are doing and work with the people you want to work with. I don’t look at it as, ‘oh my God I have not had a release this year’. Meanwhile, I did a few South films that I quite enjoyed.
But when you went down South your rivals Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor, etc raced ahead of you…
I have never felt that way. Even if you look at my South films, I have not done those many. I work at my pace. I am a very secure person, even as an actor. So that’s probably one reason I don’t do random stuff to be out there. Which is why you don’t see me at all parties.
Asin is known to be a very anti-social person. Is that true?
No, in fact I am a very friendly person.
Talking about friends, are you in touch with your co-stars Aamir or Salman?
Of course. Very sweetly they wished me for my birthday also. But Aamir wished me a day later.
Do you meet them?
Yeah, I do whenever they are also in town. Aamir keeps travelling; now he is back in town. Salman, I am doing a movie with anyway. I am also friendly with his sisters.
Your dad (Joseph Thottumkal) is handling your work again. He is everywhere. Do people find it uncomfortable?
(In a defensive tone) Where is he everywhere? He is at his house and he forwards the few messages he gets from the people who call him. My dad never travels with me. My manager does.
Buzz is that after Ready you will not do any more movies with Salman Khan.
Are you mad? I would love to do as many movies with that man as possible. I think he is a wonderful person and the coolest co-star to work with. He is encouraging and great fun on sets.
Besides Aamir and Salman who are your friends in Bollywood?
A lot of people. It has been a while since I have been in touch with Deepika or Sonam but whenever we meet we are very friendly to each other. I meet Sushmita, and my neighbours Sridevi, Tabu and Juhi. I am friendly with all, though I can’t stay in constant touch with them.
Let’s talk about Dhoni now.
(Smiles) Too much of unnecessary noise was made about it. I wouldn’t want to say anything. He is a friend and I don’t think it is wrong of a friend to visit another friend’s house.
Really? If there was nothing, then why not clarify?
No, why add to it? I’d rather keep mum about it and let this die down. Because I don’t think such matters need clarification. When two people know the truth, whatever the world makes of it, it doesn’t matter.
Why didn’t you take up Anurag Basu’s film Silence.
(Laughs) I am just going to keep silent about that. Who knows, I might be still doing it.
You also refused Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey.
I have actually refused two or three other projects as well. There is a different reason for each one.
Have you ever fallen in love?
I am looking forward to!
You mean you are living your life in celibacy?
(Laughs) Next question please.
The magnificent seven are super-charged about their Diwali release
Meena Iyer | TNN (BOMBAY TIMES; November 1, 2010)
They fear they will develop an allergy to each other. Kareena Kapoor, Ajay Devgn, Tusshar Kapoor, Arshad Warsi, Shreyas Talpade, Kunal Khemu and Rohit Shetty have been travelling continuously for the last few days. And the actors joke that they fear that familiarity may breed contempt. However, they have no choice in the matter but to stay joined at the hip till Diwali.
The promotion of Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision and Eros International’s Golmaal-3, which is releasing worldwide on November 5, is in its last leg and the team has their bags packed, ready to jump into private charters to be able to touch base with the people of various Indian cities. Says Rohit, “The promotion of the film is now at its climax. But we don’t intend letting up the pace.”
Apparently, when the ‘magnificent seven’ (as they call themselves) landed in New Delhi a few days ago, the reactions they got to Golmaal-3 far surpassed even their own expectations. The filmmaker says, “Whether it is the airport lounge or the reception of a hotel, the moment they spot the star cast together, people come forward to start talking about Golmaal. Now, the public blindly identifies our group with G-3 and so there is constant banter about the film, the characters and the comic situations.”
Besides doing the regular media interviews, the G-3 team had also planned an interesting itinerary for each of their city trips. Says Rohit, “In Delhi, we had games planned outdoors with the general public – like a tug of war – in which the entire star cast participated. And the winners were given Golmaal merchandise.”
Taking film merchandising to a more professional level, this time around, the filmmakers have come up with a new line of G-3 t-shirts, designer glasses, mugs and slippers in attractive colours and designs, which are being distributed across cities.
An insider confirms that they also had ushers and “G-3” enthusiasts wearing the Ajay Devgn tattoo from the film, similar to the exercise when the ushers in theatres across the country sported the Ghajini haircut. To cut a long story short, the “G-3” guys are going for the jugular.
In a candid chat, Akshay talks about why he always “plays” with Vipul Shah and why he doesn’t have a darbar of chamchas recommending scripts
Action Replayy is your fifth film with Vipul Shah. What makes you tie up with him so regularly?
We both believe in making commercial cinema which is commercial yet sensible. That’s why I enjoy working with him, whether he is directing or producing.
People are beginning to say that it’s high time you look at different films and stop doing comedies.
I would like you to go back and see at all the successful films in the last five years. Most of the films that have worked at the box-office are comedy films and the percentage ration is 92% which is very high. Take any recent film for example be it 3 Idiots or even Dabangg, it had heavy does of comedy in it.
I think people have had enough of depression in their life. Everyone, especially people who are paying 200 to 300 Rs of money to watch a film, want entertainment. There should be comedy with a sensible storyline and good music and it will work and that’s what I am doing.
Have you totally stopped even trying to pretend to do ‘serious’ roles?
I did try with 8 X 10 Tasveer, but hardly anyone came to see the film. So now I play a commercial hero and try to rediscover myself in that genre. But here again I want to say that 8 X 10 Tasveer was one of my best efforts and I am and will always be proud of that film.
Since the last three years you’ve produced quite a few films.
Yes, I am enjoying my role as a producer. I have made about seven films and I can say that I am a hands-on producer. I look into every department of the film. Barring my Hollywood film, I have worked hands-on in all the other productions, so that I can be present to see what’s happening around me.
You are the original action hero. But now that action films are working, you don’t have even one action film on the floors?
I am starting one next year and I will announce it soon.
Joker will now be made in 3D. What do you think about it?
I have a great technician in the form of Shrish Kunder and I know that if there is anyone who can make a 3D film, it’s him; he is technically very sound. I am excited about making Joker.
You are probably the only actor who works with directors despite their flops. Shirish Kunder, Nikhil Advani. Why?
It is not an emotional thing as one would like to believe. I must say that Nikhil has come up with a mind-blowing script in the form of Patiala House and it is definitely one of my favorite scripts. Similarly for Shirish. I go by the script and the role. Hits and flops are a part of everyone’s career and I don’t judge anyone on those grounds. I don’t have chamchas around me suggesting flicks. I listen to everyone but at the end of the day I take my own decisions.
You were the highest paid actor till recently.
Yes, and now I am the lowest paid star. I have demolished the term, ‘actors’ remuneration’.
Firoz Nadiadwala is making Hera Pheri 3. However you are not a part of it?
I don’t want to do the same things over and over again. (Smiles)
Chitrangada Singh clears the air on her marriage to ace golfer Jyoti Randhawa and why Sudhir Mishra is not obsessed with her as rumoured
Excited about your next film Yeh Saali Zindagi, directed by Sudhir Mishra? Which others films have you signed?
Yeah. I play a girl who is blindly in love with a guy without thinking if he loves me back or not. Then I go on to Rohit Dhawan’s Desi Boyz. And I have just signed a commercial film, which I cannot disclose. Also, Prakash Jha has offered me a film.
There are wolves in the industry and you stay alone in Mumbai…
I know what you mean. Casting couch, right?
Are you doing fewer films because you haven’t resorted to the casting couch?
No. I have never been in such a situation. I haven’t got a vibe that someone wanted something out of me to make him happy (pauses). Or maybe I have been too dumb to understand it.
Were you right in getting married so soon after Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi?
I know my career is not charted like others. But I feel very good that I am settled. It’s very safe that way. I will remain involved with cinema as much as I can. I get a big kick seeing myself on screen. There was a concern amongst filmmakers if I was back for good or not. Guess, that’s the reason why I get so many ads, they know they don’t need me for a long time.
There are rumours that your marriage with Jyoti Randhawa is over.
I have heard that. It’s not over. And I don’t have to prove that by holding his hand and walking into a party.
How do you manage a baby and husband, away from home?
It’s not easy. Jyoti is out for nearly 30 weeks in a year. My son stays with my parents in Delhi. I still remember the day when I first met Jyoti at a swimming pool. I was in sixth standard then, he in the eleventh, trying to jump over a hedge and impress some girls who were watching him.
Later I learnt that he is my brother’s friend. As time rolled by, he started coming home and I started liking him. But he never expressed interest. I gave up, when suddenly one day, he proposed.
You haven’t worn a bikini or revealing outfits. Are you a shy girl?
Probably. But aisa kuch nahi hai. Mandakini is from Meerut and so am I. (laughs). It’s just about the way I am.
But do Jyoti and you have your ups and downs? Doesn’t he get insecure?
Of course, we have our ups and downs. But it’s not about feeling insecure. I was married before I signed Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. And people thought that I left everything here simply because he was upset.
I don’t have to explain to him where I am every second. But yes, he definitely likes to know what is happening with my work.
Do you take his permission on intimate scenes?
Of course. Any actress would even ask her boyfriend about it if she really cares for him.
You have a long-distance marriage. Do you worry that you might get attracted to someone here?
It doesn’t necessarily have to be with someone from the industry. It could be my neighbour. Today, everybody is exposed to that temptation.
Sudhir Mishra is obsessed with you, they say.
Really? I think that he would be the better candidate to answer this question. He feels that I fit into the woman characters that he writes. I too love to get into them.
You are with him most of the time. Is this a mentor-muse relationship?
See, I don’t know too many people in the industry. I wouldn’t look at it as ‘muse’ because that takes it to another level and that’s obsession. Why doesn’t anybody say the same about Emraan Hashmi and the Bhatts?
That, says Rekha, is her biggest catwalk of fame these days
Mark Manuel | TNN (BOMBAY TIMES; October 19, 2010)
I owe her an apology. This interview was done long ago. Much before her birthday. Or her last film, Sadiyan, released and sank at the box-office. Ahead of the rains. Even earlier than she got the Padma Shri. But it never got written. Months ago, we spoke at the health club of a suburban five star where Rekha religiously works out every evening. “Sundays included,” she told me over a cup of herbal tea. The tea was awful, but she was on her second cup. And, at whatever her age, from reaching out and touching distance she looked like the proverbial million dollars. Still. Even in baggy tracks and sweaty tee. Perhaps, it was the workout. “I’m not into heavy duty stuff. I listen to me in everything I do,” she said. “No weights but freehand exercises. I do yoga and also cardio. And in between, I dance, stretch myself, there’s no set rules. That applies to my life as well. It’s important to utilize every bit of your being. Not on a daily basis. I try to on a second basis. But time doesn’t exist in my life. When you savour and relish every moment, then you learn the art of preserving yourself. I don’t use or overabuse myself, don’t do drugs, I eat simple vegetarian food, my mind is not polluted, my mother’s values are imbedded in me. I’m a perceptive person. I know what’s good and I don’t venture into what’s not good. I’ve discovered my own khazana. Everybody should. Before you realise it, life goes by. For me, every day is a rebirth.”
I had gone not to talk about films, because Rekha isn’t active in Bollywood anymore, but to find out how she survived. And kept the world’s interest in her alive. Was she lonely? Did she miss the fame of the screen? Wasn’t she afraid of old age, illness? Yes, she’s known for claiming that she’s God chosen one. But even God’s chosen one has to pay bills. “Survive,” she asked imperiously. “I’m not a survivor. I live life to the fullest. But I’m a loner. I don’t network or meet people. It’s tacky for a person to talk about herself. For me, luxury is all about my privilege… to meet who I want, where I want, when I want. And how much do you really need? Life is high maintenance the more you acquire. I’m happy with little things that I can take care of, value, and put to use. I rarely do movies. In fact, I’ve got to remind myself that I’m an actor. Time was when I was zero in the bank. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve saved for a rainy day. All the jewellery I have is my Amma’s stuff. It’s been around 40 years. Just a few sets. But I’m very creative. I wear it differently. Clothes, I mix and match. Twenty years ago I collected a lot of designer wear. Now it’s absurdly expensive. Depending on who’s wearing it, it’s entirely possible to match a tee bought off the road in Europe with something from D&G. I don’t go on dates, I don’t attend parties, visit exotic spas, so what do I have to dress up for? My ultimate dressing is for ghar se airport tak… that’s my biggest catwalk. Sounds pathetic? But that’s my secret!” The secrets were tumbling out. This was Rekha unplugged. And, maybe on an OD of adrenaline from her workout, she was talking uninhibited and from the heart, grateful to be in the moment. Of course, she is offered films, ads, reality shows, her own TV show, she’s invited to dance at weddings for cash. All of which everybody in Bollywood is doing. “I know what I want to say and when I do it – I’ll do it, but I don’t know when,” she said about television. “I never thought I’d last four decades in the film industry and do the things I’m doing now. Whatever is in store for me will happen. God chose to make me a woman. I’m privileged. Women have a lot more interesting experiences than men. Good, bad and ugly, perhaps not many more, but certainly more indepth and intense, because as women we take it all too much to heart. I chose to be single. Everything is my choice. But I’m far too evolved than to my liking. Reality is not what is shown on TV. Life is what happens in between when you’re planning what you want to do. What is scripted is not reality. Old age, illness don’t scare me. What is there to be afraid of ? Don’t waste a single second worrying about what is not in your hands. Just as you didn’t know when you were in the embryo stage, you won’t know when you’re dying. So, you see, I’m living life. Not surviving. Or fighting it. I never read newspapers but don’t miss a thing about what’s happening in Bollywood. I don’t use a cell phone because for me luxury is not being on a leash. I enjoy gardening though I don’t have a green thumb. I write poetry, paint, do charcoal sketches… anything else you want to know?” I did: what would she like to see on her gravestone? “…That she made me smile,” Rekha said. And smiled, finally.
…but a gripping show keeps him hooked, says Akshay Kumar, who’s set to judge aspiring cooks on a reality show starting tonight
Roshni K Olivera | TNN (BOMBAY TIMES; October 17, 2010)
Akshay Kumar, whose culinary skills were honed alongside his martial arts prowess in Bangkok, is returning to the small screen in a different avatar with MasterChef India on Star Plus, 9 pm tonight. The channel, in keeping with its new brand promise of ‘Rishta wahi, soch nayi’, intends to attract Indian cooking talent from home kitchens and lead them to stardom. The show, that is based on an international format, tests the culinary skills of 12 creative and passionate cooks under immense time pressure. Joining Akshay are Chefs Kunal Kapoor and Ajay Chopra as co-judges, together they will choose the MasterChef from among the participants of the show. “Great cooking not only leads to great food but also great drama… and that’s what is in store for viewers,” says Akshay. Excerpts from the interview…
How tough are you going to be with contestants?
I am only as tough as I need to be. I’m not a bully, but neither am I here to paint rainbows with them. I encourage and inspire these MasterChef aspirants like you wouldn’t believe! To me they are like my children, I nurture and guide them through the tasks set with love and firmness.
How would you rate yourself as a cook?
Hmmm… I hope by cook you don’t mean a chef because I don’t consider myself a chef. Being a chef is a big deal and an even bigger honour. Cooking is an art in itself, and it is not easy to master. We may love to paint, but that doesn’t mean anyone would want to buy it. I consider myself a decent cook, but I am a great eater with a very experienced palate. However, if you ask my family they love my cooking. Personally I would give myself 6 out of 10.
Big B, Salman Khan and you are hosting shows… how do you react to comparisons?
In this field comparisons are inevitable. However, all three of us are doing shows of different genres. Amitabhji and Salman are great people, brilliant actors and fantastic hosts. We all have something very different to give, but really we just want to entertain our audiences. It’s the channels that have the extra pressure and points to prove. We as actors only have good wishes for each other and I know all of us will be giving our best. Let’s just let people enjoy their evening TV time and be happy at how great entertainment is these days.
How anxious are you about public reaction? As much as you would have been before a film release?
It’s different. In my films I always seem to have much more pressure on my shoulders. There’s a difference between someone flicking the channel over and someone walking out of your movie. Both hurt, but it’s not the same. In fact I myself am a complete channel-hopper, but if something grips me then I am hooked for sure, and I know how gripping MasterChef is. You feel for these guys so much, you learn so much, there are emotions flying. There’s something extra special about this show, so right now I’m more excited than anxious.
Despite announcing that he would work in the director’s next, Dutt is allegedly ignoring his calls
Filmmaker JP Dutta was beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel after turkeys like LOC and Umrao Jaan, all thanks to Sanjay Dutt, who had agreed to be part of his next war saga. What Dutta hadn’t seen coming however, was that Sanjay would walk out of the project at the last moment. Dutta is heartbroken.
Naturally, there is cause for worry in the JP Dutta camp because they had acquired vital permission to shoot in a number of sensitive areas as well as army bases, through a lot of persuasion. And this was done after clearing dates with Sanjay.
Since Sanjay plays a pivotal role in the film, shooting cannot begin without him.
Not too long ago, Sanju and Dutta met on a flight after a long time and hugged one another with genuine affection. No one can deny that the Dutta-Dutt duo had worked wonders in films like Hathyar, Kshatriya (where JP had cast Sanju with his father Sunil Dutt). So, Dutta didn’t think twice before telling Sanjay that he intended to start a new war film early in 2011.
Says a source, “Sanju instantly agreed to be a part of the project. He allotted dates and even confirmed in an interview that he will do Dutta’s film. Dutta, who regards Sanju as family, got busy with the project. He hadn’t expected what lay in store for him.”
Apparently, when the filmmaker called to confirm the dates, Sanju was unavailable and inaccessible for a long time.
Says a source very close to the director, “Initially Dutta was sure there was some misunderstanding. Sanju is too dear to him to create any hassles. Dutta kept trying to get in touch with him. But it was all futile.”
But with time, Dutta started getting anxious. Repeated attempts to contact the star, numerous missed calls and anxious messages yielded no results.
Says the source, “Dutta now suspects that the dates meant for his war film have been given away to other filmmakers without his knowledge.”
When contacted, an oddly composed Dutta said, “All I’ll say is that Sanju is like my brother. His father Dutt Sahib was so close to me that he’d get angry if we discussed money about projects. I am sure there’s some miscommunication between us. I am waiting for Sanju to revert. He knows how difficult it was for me to get the permission to shoot in sensitive areas.”
But Sanjay Dutt’s spokesperson laid all the cards on the table and said, “Mr JP Dutta met Mr Sanjay Dutt informally in Pune. There was no script. And no dates were discussed.” Sanju, if the genre is war, it doesn’t mean you wage one! Truce?
Kasab’s lawyer, Abbas Kazmi, who’s just out of a reality show, says every inmate in the house can stoop to any level to win
Divya Pal (BOMBAY TIMES; October 13, 2010)
Why do you think you were ousted from Bigg Boss’house right at the start…
I believe the masses didn’t support me because they are still angry with my decision to defend Kasab. But I want people to understand the reasons for which I made that choice. The only message I want to convey is – Agar main nahin toh koi doosra vakeel Kasab ko represent karta. It has been mentioned in our Constitution that every criminal should get at least a lawyer to fight his/her case. Aur court ne mujhe appoint kiya tha. I didn’t become Kasab’s lawyer because I wanted to. Bharat sarkar ne mujhe meri fees di thi. Kanoon ki zaroorat thi jo maine poori kari.
What’s next? High-profile criminals like Kasab to participate in reality shows, especially when former dacoit Seema and Devinder Singh aka superchor Bunty have set an example?
I want people to understand that Seemaji was earlier a dacoit. It was her past and now she lives the life of a respectable citizen. We have to understand that Valmiki too was a dacoit at one time before he became a sage. Toh har ek ka past hota hai. We should also look at one’s reformed self, which is important for society. As far as Devinder goes, I think he couldn’t understand the entire format of the show. Usko barabar brief nahin kiya gaya tha.
Has your stay helped you get an insight into the criminal minds of contestants?
I know who is playing what game. Lekin main negativity main nahin jaana chahta. I could’ve stayed longer but there was enough backbiting happening, it was evident from Day 1. I have no regrets leaving the house. I belong to a noble profession so I couldn’t have stooped to levels that others could. I’m happy that despite dirty politics, which is a part of the game, I was my true self.
Will you be seen in any other reality show?
Chaska toh mujhe college se laga hai. I have always been used to applause and standing ovation which is quite natural when you are a stage actor. College se hi I was interested in acting. Law is my profession but acting has always been my hobby. And whenever, I would get spare time, I’d pursue it. This is not my first TV show. I played a judge in the television serial Your Honour before as well. So, if I get anything interesting to do, I would accept the challenge. But it is also a fact that I’m a difficult person. People can’t deal with me.
What about reports that you have been asked to resign as managing trustee of Imamia Masjid…
Nobody has asked me to resign. These are just some people with vested interests who may have expressed their views to the media. No one has the authority to ask me to resign. Agar koi raah chalta aadmi Manmohan Singh ko resign karne ko kahe toh… does it make any sense. I was not shocked to read the report because during the controversy regarding Kasab’s case too these same people had expressed their displeasure.
(with inputs from Deepali Dhingra)
…because fans and the Tamil film fraternity will come out in his support — a bonding which, Sanjay Dutt says, Bollywood has lost. Sanjay gets into straight-talk mode with Anshul Chaturvedi, and doesn’t mince his words
Anshul Chaturvedi (BOMBAY TIMES; October 13, 2010)
Two hours daily in the gym; driving at 250 kmph on the Expressway; excited to-be dad; still as jittery, in your own words, as a newcomer when a release approaches — in this case, “Knock Out”. So how’s 51 different from what 28 may have been?
Actually, nothing much has changed…. I do drive the car myself. I’m looking forward to the twins. I do get nervous; I remember how I was before Lamhaa’s release — a little jittery. And it’s not deliberate — this is just how I am.
And you’re fitter at 51 than you were at 21?
I think so. And in fact, my current focus on gymming is also because, if you notice, in Blue and Kidnap, I’d let myself go a little. Case sar pe thaa, the judgment was about to come out and to bring focus to cinema was difficult for me at that stage. Fitness was hardly a priority.
It was such a big accusation. Being part of a terror activity? My God! When the judge said that you always wanted to hear this, that your dad always wanted to hear this, you are acquitted from the terror charge — that moment was the greatest moment of relief in my life. I had let myself go around that time, and I got a lot of mail, a lot of fan reactions, saying, ‘you started the bodybuilding trend in the industry, you worked so hard to build your fitness, we just can’t see you like this.’
I think I owe it to them. That’s why for the last 6-7 months, I’ve been on a very strict diet, I go to the gym twice a day, and another six months and six-pack-wack sab aa jayega! (grins)
When your dad would’ve been, say, 55, he’d have been such a senior person in the industry, right? When you are 55, you’d probably be gymming as much, driving yourself, and taking four year-olds to pre-school. How stark is the contrast? You’re living life as if you have gone back in time — a very carefree, bindaas life, reliving your youth, aren’t you?
Because I missed those years of my life! Those years for me was very important. I had reached a certain level in my career, and suddenly it all crashed because of my jail term. I had to go through this painful process for 19 years. I’m 51, so 19 years means I was 30 something… I lost all that. There was a time when I used to go to court in the morning, be there 11 to 5. Then I would return home. 6 baje gym jaata thaa. 8 baje set pe jaata thaa. 8 baje se subah 5 baje tak set pe shooting karta thaa. Ghar aata thaa, would sleep for barely 2-3 hours, and I would be back at the court at 11. For two full years, this was my daily routine.
Now I’m living life like I would have lived it then. Making up for it, perhaps. But, I’m not deliberately doing it.
You’ve been asking people not to call you ‘baba’, but perhaps it’s actually that people around you just see it as chronology; it doesn’t seem odd for them to keep addressing you as ‘Sanju baba’ because of the way you see things, behave, react. It’s clichéd all right, but the ‘misunderstood-with-heart-of-gold’ tag works for both you and Salman, doesn’t it? People generally forgive quickly. And you’ve not lost out on life, not turned reclusive, because you lost twenty-odd years.
No, I’ve not. And yes, I still have that zest very much. Maybe it’s because I lost so much of time. But yes, you’re right again, there are so many people on the sets, many technicians especially, who call me baba, and I laugh and say, ‘arre, main baba kaise hoon, pachas saal ka kaun sa baba hota hai?’
They say, ‘pachas saal is ok, lekin dil se tum baba hai na.’ Main bola, ‘lekin kyun?’ I really wanted to understand. And they said, ‘you’re just like a child – koi tension nahin hai, zameen pe baith jaoge, beedi pi loge, hamari plate se khana kha lete ho.’
Bad boy, golden heart branding doesn’t bore you beyond a point?
It’s part of my life now! (laughs)
Your family has a Congress lineage, you are known to be quite friendly with Bal Thackeray, and you have been with the SP — or at least with Amar Singh. For an apolitical person, that’s quite a variety.
I only came into that SP part because of Amar Singhji. The most important thing, for me at least, at that point was that the Samajwadis and the Congress were looking at a coalition sort of thing. I sent a lot of feelers also, but I think nobody took me seriously at that time.
To the Congress. So I went there, and later the SP and the Congress finally didn’t fight the elections together. And in that context, I’m thankful to the honourable court for not letting me fight that election from Lucknow. When I think about it today, it’s the biggest favour they’ve done to me.
And how’s that?
Because I don’t think I’m ready to be an MP. If you are one, then you have to be fully committed. And I would have missed out on a lot of my movies. Also, my focus changed to taking care of Amar Singhji, his health, more than anything else. He’s like a brother to me. Dil ka bilkul sahi aadmi hai.
In the Dutts’ blood, there is Congress. My parents’ relationship with Panditji, with Mrs Gandhi, with Rajivji, with Sanjayji – it’s unforgettable. When Rajivji passed away, it was as big a blow to my father as it must have been to the immediate relatives of his family. There was 40 days of mourning in our house.
Isn’t that some coincidence; Amar Singh is like a brother to two megastars who have had a history of family ties with the Gandhi family but have now been kept at a safe distance by the Congress?
Nahin, lekin Congress ne mujhe distance pe nahin rakha. I mean I never really reached out myself. When my father died, many people wanted me to contest in his place. But my shootings were going on, a lot of other things were going on, plus Priya is a better candidate. She spent a lot of time with Dutt sahib on his padyatras. But she was not making up her mind because of her pregnancy. I had to convince her, that someone had to contest, this is Dutt sahib’s constituency, the lineage has to go on. And she’s doing a fantastic job.
There is one perspective that the system is harder on celebrities, they are subject to a lot of scrutiny. Another impression is that VIPs get away from the law most of the time. What’s your take?
I think there are three types. There are these two –both of which happen – and the third is being made a scapegoat (laughs). An example has to be made of someone. Woh hum log pe zyada padta hai. It’s the same in case of Salman as well. It’s not right to ram into anyone, I’m not saying that at all. Lekin uske baad how many cases of drunken driving have happened – who talks about them? But if it is Salman – it becomes, ‘chalo, dikhatein hain abhi isko.’
It wasn’t always like this. In my father’s time, when my mom was there, an actor was really respected. Respected in the sense, even by the politicians.
You said ‘our fraternity’. Is there a ‘fraternity’ in the film industry today?
Khatam ho gaya woh sab! It’s sad, but what to do. When we came into the industry, that was a fraternity. We were all so much together. Ek hi show hota thaa – Filmfare Awards Night. Hum sab usme ek saath jaate they. Dignity thi, bonding thi. But now, it’s become all about camps.
As a fraternity, if we all were together, these things would not happen, I feel. Try and put a Rajinikanth in a case like a terror act – we’ll see what will happen in Tamil Nadu. Nobody can. That is the power of a star. The fraternity in the South is so tightly tied with each other – woh hamari industry mein nahin hai.
Is no longer there, you mean?
Yeah, used to be, is no longer.
Madhur Bhandarkar on coming a long way from being a video delivery boy, on testing new genres and believing that Kareena will eventually come around to act in Heroine
• Comedy is not your forte. Why are making one, Dil To Bachcha Hai Ji ?
It was not an easy decision to make. While some have been saying that I shouldn’t get into other genres of cinema, others say that it’s time for a change. I have always considered myself as an experimental filmmaker and this is another one of my experiments. Actors who have worked with me will vouch for my sense of humour. More often than not, I have them in splits on my sets. In fact, Tabu (who starred in Chandni Bar) used to always ask me why I hadn’t directed a comedy yet.
• After dropping out from school you even worked as a delivery boy for a video library. Did you ever think that you’ll get this far?
Honestly, no. God has given me more than I asked for. I guess it has been a mixture of hard work and luck. I think I am God’s blessed child. And I am not going to get carried away.
• Your male-oriented films, Traffic Signal and Jail, don’t do particularly well. Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji too is male-oriented. Are you nervous?
I am nervous. But that happens with me before the release of any of my films. Think of it, isn’t it early days to say that Madhur Bhandarkar makes only good female-oriented films? I don’t jump into making films just for the heck of it. Recently I had offers to remake some top South films but I didn’t see any creativity in that.
Tell me one good reason why shouldn’t I attempt to make a comedy, or say, even a romcom or a thriller, as long as the characters in my film are well fleshed out? Sooner or later, I’ll touch upon all genres.
• Will you cast Neil Nitin Mukesh (Jail) and Kunal Khemu (Traffic Signal), who seem to have lost the plot?
If I have a script for them, why not? I don’t cast actors as per their market status. Didn’t I cast Samir Soni, Arjan Bajwa and Arbaaz Khan in Fashion despite people’s apprehensions? Again if you see, I have three newcomers in Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji : Shruti Haasan, Shazahn Padamsee and Shraddha Das, whose debut films have flopped.
• Perhaps budgetary constraints might have resulted in this benevolence in casting.
Yes, I do make films within a stipulated budget. I never spend too much, I don’t overshoot. My homework is very strong. Even Jail broke even.
• Your next female-oriented film Heroine is stuck. Kareena Kapoor is latkofying you…
Kareena and I have not been in touch. She has been very busy with RA.One and Agent Vinod. But we are going to meet soon.
• She’s ditched you with Page 3 and Fashion as well…
I think Kareena is a remarkable actress with a great screen presence. From the minute I saw her in Refugee, I knew she will go a long way. I think I will be third time lucky. She deserves a lot more from this industry. I believe that Heroine will give that to her, it’s a dream role for any actress.
• What happened to that biopic on Lalit Modi called Commissioner ?
Things didn’t work out. Besides, the Lalit Modi controversy would have been too hot to handle.
• You have always been a ladies’ man. We’re disappointed to not have heard of any link-ups. Have you really changed or are you a smoother operator now?
(Laughs) Today, I am very happy the way I am living my life. Do I really need to answer this question?
• All the more…
Un dino, meri shaadi nahin hui thi. And people just perceived me that way. (laughs again).