Fenil and Bollywood

Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

LOOKING AHEAD: Neil Nitin Mukesh

BOMBAY TIMES (January 20, 2010)

There’s constant buzz that actor Neil Nitin Mukesh is set to tie the knot soon. This, after Neil recently admitted that he was no longer single. So is there a wedding date fixed? BT met up with the young, dashing actor to find out more…

How’s 2010 begun for you?
The new year has begun really well for me. I’ve started shooting for my film with Pradeep Sarkar. It’s been a tight schedule… I have been shooting for the past ten nights. My clock has gone slightly haywire, but I’m enjoying it!

So you are planning to tie the knot this year?
There’s been speculation. I don’t deny that I am dating Priyanka. I would definitely want to make it official at some point, but that we are tying the knot this year is slightly premature to say. Since I hadn’t spoken about her much, these questions have been coming up in people’s minds, I guess. Hence, there’s been a lot of speculation about marriage.


Why have you kept your relationship low-key?

It’s not something that I have done strategically. It’s just that I didn’t get a chance to speak about her. Now, it’s all out there and people want to know, so I talk as much as I can.

She is a fashion designer… is she connected with the film industry in any way?
Not at all.

On the work front, you were expecting a lot from Jail…
Definitely. As far as the film is concerned, I’m very happy with the way it shaped up. I am extremely proud to be a part of Jail. Box office is not in our hands and that’s something I can’t comment on. Sometimes very good films don’t do well at the box office, while some not-sogood films click. There’s no fixed funda of cracking the box office. Jail of course did reasonably well. I wish it had done even better. It deserved to.

Which are the other films lined up this year?
Apart from Pradeep Sarkar’s film, there is Abbas-Mustan’s Hindi remake of The Italian Job with Katrina Kaif and Abhishek Bachchan.

What do you personally prefer — solo hero films or ones with two heroes?
For me it doesn’t really matter. The script is important. My films are character-oriented. The character I’m playing matters more to me.

How’s your photography going?
Great! Shooting gives us a chance to be at different locations. Whatever interests my eye is captured by my lens. Later at night I spend time correcting my pictures on my laptop. That’s the best way to unwind.

Abhijat Joshi tells Lekha Menon why he would never lampoon institutions and how walking is the best inspiration to write good scripts

By Lekha Menon (MUMBAI MIRROR; January 17, 2010)

On a two-month break from teaching at the Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, Abhijat Joshi, is basking in 3 Idiots’ success story. “We just wanted to make a good film; we never intended it to be a Titanic,” he chuckles, even as he moves on to his next script with Raju Hirani.

Abhijat talks passionately about ideas that fuel him – be it in the realm of cinema or education. And it isn’t difficult to see why. Hailing from a family of professors, he himself taught at an arts college in Ahmedabad before moving to the US for an MFA from the University of Texas, Austin. And as a teacher, he is thrilled to “take Premchand, Manto and Gandhi to students there.”

In many ways, he is an example of the ‘follow your heart, success will follow’ maxim. Abhijat was training to be an engineer but then switched to arts. No wonder the ace screenwriter is quick to defend the criticism that 3 Idiots negates the process of formal education.

Pic: Rana chakraborty

• Your partnership with Raju Hirani has delivered some of the most successful films in recent times. What explains your chemistry with him?

During Lage Raho Munnabhai, Raju especially wanted my assistance for the Gandhigiri scenes. Having been educated in the Gujarati medium I had access to Gandhi’s philosophies in the language. Later, we realised we had a lot in common – our vision of cinema, ideas and values.

As in cricket, a successful creative partnership also depends on the small nuances – knowing when to talk and when to keep silent, for instance. We just clicked.

We do a lot of our writing while walking. A few days back we took a walk in the Borivali National Park and didn’t stop until we completed a scene.

Walking gives us an adrenaline rush, it pumps our writing! In the US, we walk around all the parks of Westerville. We must have covered hundreds of miles by now!

• Does your growing-up years reflect in your scripts?

A lot. Memories of childhood pranks, youth and college years will always be reflected as they shape you. For instance, the ‘All is Well’ refrain is an inspiration from a chowkidaar who used to scream that every night.

Similarly, there used to be a joke in my science class – ‘Frogs legs fetch two marks’! There were so many body parts to remember, students would just mug up those that were necessary to get marks. I was inspired by these moments.

• What is your take on the argument that 3 Idiots dismisses the formal process of education? For all the flak that our system faces, they have thrown up some brilliant minds.

I agree. Institutions must be respected. Nowhere are we questioning formal education. But we need to see what is wrong with them and what can be done – it’s purely constructive criticism. Not a single scene says students mustn’t study or work hard.

But why should joy vanish from studies? I wouldn’t recommend students becoming slack towards education; only, they need to love what they learn.

• So is there a solution?

Maybe we need to question the way of studying. There should be a desire to learn. Unfortunately in our education system, there is no curiosity and education devoid of curiosity is dead.

• How different is the students’ response and approach in the US?

Studies there is aptitude oriented. But the enthusiasm of students is similar. I feel that if the teacher is good, students give a good response.

The bubby Genelia D’Souza spells out her dating rules, fashion fundas and why she prefers being sexy, as in ‘naughty’ rather than ‘sultry’

By Sonal Chawla (MUMBAI MIRROR; January 14, 2010)


• Would you prefer to be sexy rather than the girl-next-door?

Yes, of course. But right now I am very comfortable in my space. I love the work I get and I’m not in a hurry to grow up. Aditi in Jaane Tu… was aggressive; my character in Chance pe Dance (CPD) is milder, calmer and has a sweet, feminine side. Yet both characters are girls-next-door.

But wouldn’t you like to play a sex bomb?

I don’t know whether I can, it depends on the script. It is something I haven’t thought about. I’d rather be spunky than sexy. I like being schoolgirl sexy, like the ‘naughty’ sexy.

• Given a chance to hit on your co-star, who would it be – Shahid, Harman or John?

You can’t expect me to choose. And now that CPD  is releasing, it has to be Shahid. (laughs)

• Have you ever made the first move in a relationship?

No, never. I would never do that. I would probably smile, but I would never make the first move on a guy for sure.

• Has a girl ever made a pass at you?

No, never! (laughs)

• When did you start working? Your first salary?

I was 15, and I got it for my first ad. I earned around Rs 10, 000.

• And your first screen test?

It was an advertisement with Mr Bachchan. I tested for it at five in the evening and got selected at 10 the same night. And the next thing I knew, I was doing it. Yippie.

• Tell us some dance moves you like.

I like the signature move of the song Papapa (CPD), because I think it is something that everyone can do. I love what Shahid has done in Pump it up. I think he has really, really rocked. For me dancing is going mad, letting down your hair and having a blast.

• How about salsa and jive?

Oh, I would love to do salsa. I am Christian, so I have done a lot of jiving and I love the co-ordinated lifts, but you need a terrific partner to do it.

• Your last chance to admit whether you’re single or not

Ya, ya, ya! I am single

• And ready to mingle?

I find that extremely cheesy, but I am single.

• If you could date a Hollywood actor, who would it be?

My all-time favourite star is Tom Cruise, but I would choose Brad Pitt for a date.

• Do you update yourself about fashion and read about the latest trends?

I do. But for me it is more like a jeans and tee or shorts and tee. I love white shrits and denims. I love very simple normal stuff, but if I have to make an effort, definitely I would consult people and talk to them.

• Have you ever had a wardrobe malfunction?

No. I am quite particular. I like everything fixed up and proper.

Pic: Satish malavade

FROM BOOKS TO MOVIES: Salman Rushdie and (inset) Amitabh Bachchan

Salman Rushdie in an exclusive chat with BT on his visit to Mumbai, Bollywood, the Big B, etc…

SUBHASH K JHA Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; January 13, 2010)

Salman Rushdie, who visited Mumbai recently to meet Amitabh Bachchan, Irrfan Khan, Shahana Goswami and Shabana-Javed Akhtar for the film adaptation of his book Midnight’s Children, talked to BT about his trip here. The eminent novelist lives in New York, travels the world, but claims to have multiple roots also in London and still in Bombay. “I feel at home in all three cities,” he said.
Filmmaker Deepa Mehta, who accompanied Rushdie through his Bollywood yatra, said he enjoyed every minute of his stay in Mumbai. “As far as I could see, there’s no fear to his life. He travels in a relaxed atmosphere. I couldn’t see any security arrangements,” reported Deepa, who has collaborated with him on the screenplay of Midnight’s Children. Excerpts from the interview:
BT: Was your Bollywood yatra a fulfilling experience?
SR: Yes, Deepa and I have embarked on a long and exciting journey and meeting actors and fitting them to roles has been an exciting step on that journey.
BT: How do you cope with unwanted attention? Is security still a looming issue in your life?
SR: I’m pretty good at protecting my privacy and my family’s.
BT: You seem to be affiliated to Mumbai’s show world in many ways. Parts of one of your novels is even said to be inspired by Amitabh Bachchan’s life… SR: Well, I grew up in the city, so I have the movies in my blood, I suppose. The illness of my character Gibreel in The Satanic Verses was a sort of echo of an illness of Mr. Bachchan’s.
BT: Do you keep abreast of Indian cinema? Which are the recent Indian films, filmmakers and actors you’ve liked?
SR: I’m a fan of many actors and filmmakers. When we’ve finished casting the movie you’ll know who my favourites are!
BT: Among the novels in your oeuvre which do you consider your most accomplished work, and why?
SR: I don’t choose between my literary children.
BT: What do you seek in your association with India?
SR: I’m not seeking anything in particular, just continuing a lifetime connection that I value personally as well as creatively.
BT: Mumbai, during this visit, brought you in contact with various Bollywood actors including Mr. Bachchan. How was the experience of meeting him?
SR: I’ve met Mr. Bachchan before, in New York, and at both meetings, he was a charming, gracious presence.
BT: What prompted you to let Deepa film your most celebrated novel?
SR: Her passion for my work and my admiration of hers.
BT: Do you feel Midnight’s Children has a ‘filmable’ quality? As an art form do you regard cinema as inferior to literature?
SR: Now that we have a screenplay we like, I would say that, yes, Midnight’s Children is eminently filmable. I have been a film buff all my life and believe that the finest cinema is fully the equal of the best novels.
BT: Interestingly you are a midnight child yourself. Is your character in the book Saleem Sinai partly a self-portrait?
SR: I’m eight weeks older than Saleem! And I’m not as like him as you might imagine. For example, I remember my Bombay childhood as happy and uneventful, whereas his is pretty unhappy and eventful. But I was trying to make a portrait of my generation, the generation of Independence, and in that sense he’s very close to me.
BT: You spent many many years in exilic isolation. What was the biggest lesson that you learnt from the experience?
SR: Being unable to visit India in those years was very sad.
BT: What is your take on Islamic fundamentalism and the rise of global terrorism?
SR: I’m against it.

Second time mum Sushmita Sen says her daughters Renee and Alisah will be her bridesmaids when she finally finds Mr Right

By Vickey Lalwani (MUMBAI MIRROR; January 08, 2010)


// // //

How does it feel to be a mother all over again?

Alisah is another miracle in my life. She was very calm and quiet, but suddenly she’s become very feisty and found her voice. She doesn’t like to be static for long. She wants to be carried and pampered – she is a princess.

How has Renee reacted to Alisah?

Renee has been an absolute dream with Alisah. She wanted a sibling for a long time. They have an age difference of 10 years and Renee’s age will only add to her sense of responsibility. She is like a mother to Alisah. She’s trying to change her diapers, even give her a bath. However, I must tell you that she doesn’t do a very good job of changing diapers, but she certainly thinks she does (laughs).

Does Renee feel left out when you attend to Alisah?

No. Agar unme do-teen saal ka fark hota, to shayad aisa hota. God plans life beautifully.

How different is Alisah from Renee?

Every child is different. So, the feeling is different too. Alisah smiles differently. She yells differently. Unlike Renee who used to wake up in the middle of the night and wake me up, she sleeps rather peacefully. But I may be speaking too soon. Give me another month and Alisah too might start waking me up. When Renee came into my life, I was a novice. I was learning everything about motherhood from scratch. With Alisah, I am better trained as a mother.

It’s great that children of single mothers don’t need a father’s name to get admission in schools… your comment?

Oh yes, I love that. But, you know, my daughters have all the freedom to change their first name, which I have given them, if they don’t like it at any point in their life.

You have two kids now. Does marriage fit into your scheme of things?

Of course. Just because it hasn’t happened till now doesn’t mean that I don’t consider marriage important.

So we might see you getting married with your daughters standing beside you?

Of course. And they’ll both hold my wedding gown up. I got my bridesmaids before I got married (laughs). And you know what…

What?

Finally, I have decided to do only big commercial films which will have a proper distribution network and release. I have done many films which were not marketed correctly.

But what’s happening in your personal life?

Presently, I am single. Even if I want to be in a relationship, I don’t have time for it, at least now.

Though you look svelte now, you had really put on weight.

They didn’t pile up overnight. Vashu Bhagnani and David Dhawan asked me to gain 7 kg for Do Knot Disturb.

How did you feel when you looked at yourself in the mirror those days?

(Laughs) If Do Knot Disturb had worked, it would’ve been fantastic. But it didn’t, and weight gain became the topic of discussion instead.

So how did you manage to lose the flab?

I take the credit for the discipline, but it was thanks to my dietician and my physical trainer. I am in better shape than I ever was. Okay, I am healthier now (laughs again). Can we talk about Dulha Mil Gaya?

Sure…

I have waited for Dulha Mil Gaya for nearly two years. I am happy that none of us associated with the film sulked about its delay. I play Shimmer, a very over-the-top character and one of the best I have portrayed on screen. I am opposite Shah Rukh Khan and particularly loved the jugalbandi scene where we fight by taking names of each other’s films. And I always wanted to work with Fardeen Khan, who is a buddy.

By Subhash K. Jha, January 4, 2010 – 14:18 IST

Chetan Bhagat Those multitudes who have read Chetan Bhagat’s book novel Five Point Someone would agree there are uncanny resemblances between the novel and Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots. The film apparently set out to adapt Bhagat’s novel and then decided to go its own way, for whatever reason. Chetan Bhagat shouts foul as he finds his name missing from the opening credits of 3 Idiots, instead they are in the rolling credits in the end. On the other hand, the producers of the film claim that it was mentioned in the contract that Chetan had signed. Hurt and amused Chetan reacts.

You must be very upset by the latest proceedings?
You’re a writer. You should know how it feels to have credit taken away from you. And it’s not something only I’m saying. It’s out there. The book is there. The film is there. They’ve tried to take away from my contribution. My name is at the very end of the credit titles after the junior artistes and still photographers. From the time they started making the film, they’ve been stressing that their product is different. It’s like a systematic effort (to underplay my contribution). If you read the book and saw the film, you’ll see the similarities.

My name is at the very end of the credit titles after the junior artistes and still photographers

So would you say 3 Idiots is an adaptation of your novel?
3 Idiots is a total adaptation of my book. Some things are direct lifts, others indirect adaptations.

Aamir thinks you are trying to take away credit from the film’s writer Abhijat Joshi?
I heard his comments. But then he says he hasn’t read the book. There’s no denying Abhijat has done the screenplay. What Abhijat has done with my book can only be known if you’ve read it. If Aamir is so concerned about Abhijat not getting the publicity, he should let Abhijat talk. I very much respect Aamir. He’s the reason I thought the project would have a lot of integrity. I know for a fact he was told not to read my book because they told him it’d affect his understanding of his story. I was told it was a different script.

Even dialogues about matar-paneer and Maruti 800 cars are from my novel. The novel was set in the 1990s. Aaj Maruti 800 kaun bolega?

How would Aamir’s perception have been affected if he read the book?
I don’t know. I’m on a firm footing with the facts. See the film, read the book. And judge for yourself. The whole plot-structure narrative, even dialogues about matar-paneer and Maruti 800 cars are from my novel. The novel was set in the 1990s. Aaj Maruti 800 kaun bolega? I mention 42 exams and 16 broken bones in my body. They have kept the same numbers in the film. Kareena’s brother committing suicide on the railway tracks…so many other things in the film; it’s all there in my novel.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Aamir have accused you of trying to make mileage out of their movie?
If I didn’t take up the issue properly, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself. If someone else goes and collects the award for best story at the awards functions how will I feel? Only once I met Aamir. When I landed at Bangalore where they were shooting 3 Idiots they said, ‘Don’t come we’ve too many visitors.’ They prevented me from going on the set. The book has been selling for six years. There’re lakhs of fans of the book. It’s not about Chetan being naraaz and Aamir being naraaz. My issue is not with Aamir. When the other film Hello based on my novel One Night At The Call Centre came, did I say one word against the characterizations or treatment? I was credited properly for that. I haven’t been credited for 3 Idiots.

When I landed at Bangalore where they were shooting 3 Idiots they said, ‘Don’t come we’ve too many visitors.’ They prevented me from going on the set.

Have you become embittered towards Bollywood?
You could make up any kind of contract. But is there any contract that stops people from being petty? My last novel Three Mistakes Of My Life is being directed by Abhishek Kapoor. I am co-scripting it. There’s a lot of interest in adapting my latest novel 2 States: The Story Of My Life. I don’t think there would be any problem with future project. With 3 Idiots, I know I’m in the right. I’m just telling people to see the film and read my book. I know Aamir is a very powerful person. But finally the truth has to prevail, no? I’m no great artiste. But there has to be fair play. I’m being accused of trying to get mileage.10 lakh copies of the book have been sold. The book has been read by 1 crore readers. Wouldn’t they know the truth?

Chetan Bhagat What do you intend to do?
The makers of 3 Idiots are busy with their victory tours all over the country. They’re naturally being asked about the similarities between my book and the film. Sorry I spoilt their celebrations. The truth had to be told. I’ve been told by them, ‘You’re just a writer. You don’t realize how big we are.’ Maybe I don’t realize how big they are. Main kya karoon? But the truth is above everything. Aisa nahin ke pura Bollywood kharaab hai.

Do you think you’ll be ostracized by Bollywood after this incident?
I’m not dependent on Bollywood for my livelihood. I’m a big Krishna bhakt. I’ll follow the right path. If I’m wrong I’ll leave writing and join ISKCON. What does a writer want? That his words should make a change in society. Maybe by taking up this issue I hope to bring about a change in the way writers are treated. Vidhu Vinod Chopra assured me that he would treat me like a king. Kahan ka raja?

Vidhu Vinod Chopra assured me that he would treat me like a king. Kahan ka raja?

What do you hope to achieve?
When they go to pick up the story award I want people to know whose story it is. When they make eye contact with their children they should know they’re lying. We’ve to show that truth comes before everything else. I don’t write for money or glamour. I just need paper and pen. Lord Krishna takes care of the rest.

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

By Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, December 24, 2009 – 18:27 IST

Chetan Bhagat Very few authors have managed to reach out to such a wide audience as Chetan Bhagat. The writer of international bestsellers like ‘5 Point Someone’, ‘One Night @ Call Centre’, ‘3 Mistakes of My Life’ and ‘2 States’ have been widely read and now he is all set to see yet another of his book being made into a film. On the eve of 3 Idiots release, Chetan Bhagat speaks to Bollywood Hungama and talks about why 3 Idiots is a special film, his next big project and lots more.

After ‘One Night @ the Call Centre’, yet another book of yours ‘5 Point Someone’ is all set to be seen in its celluloid version (3 Idiots). How does it feel?
It feels great. This time it’s a far bigger film, the buzz about 3 Idiots is enormous. We have done the right thing by putting the film ahead of us. It’s an incredible feeling to be able to reach out to so many people through the medium of cinema.

Initially I did sit down with Raju and Abhijat while they were deciding to make a film based on ‘5 Point Someone‘. I even went to IIT with Abhijat a couple of times.

The screenplay has been written by Raju Hirani and Abhijat Joshi…Would you have liked to be a part of the screenplay writing process?
Initially I did sit down with Raju and Abhijat while they were deciding to make a film based on ‘5 Point Someone’. I even went to IIT with Abhijat a couple of times. But it was just not possible for me to be involved at every stage of the screenplay writing process since I was in Hong Kong at that time, working full time and busy writing other books. Moreover, Abhijat is based in USA, Raju was in the US for quite a while working on the screenplay but it was not practical for me to do that.

3 Idiots is different from the book but at the same time it does borrow many things from the book. The core theme and message of the film is coming from the book itself.

The question on everyone’s mind is how similar the film is to the book? Raju Hirani says that the film is just 10% of the book….your comments.
I don’t think Raju must have said something like that. In fact I just met him a few days ago and we spoke at length about the film etc. See…’5 Point Someone’ has over the years achieved cult status and has its own loyal fans. I am sure they would like to see each and every moment of the book on the big screen but that is not how the process works. Adapting a book and making it into a film is a relatively new thing in India. The film retains the soul of the book. 3 Idiots is different from the book but at the same time it does borrow many things from the book. The core theme and message of the film is coming from the book itself. And that’s why the makers have officially credited the film as ‘Based on a novel by Chetan Bhagat’

You are but obviously not directly involved with the film and its promotional strategies…does it upset you?
Not at all…at the end of the day I want the film to be a good film and I am happy that a film whose base is generated from my book has generated so much response and is the talk of the town.

Aamir recently was on an innovative promotional spree travelling the length and breadth of the country…what do you think about this marketing strategy?
Chetan Bhagat When you have Aamir Khan, I don’t think anybody else needs to be involved in marketing of the film. Aamir is known for his innovative style of marketing. He will never directly say, ‘Please come and watch my film’ but he will do something that will grab your attention and make you go and watch the film. I am really inspired by his marketing. In fact there is a lesson for a lot of Indian marketing companies on the way Aamir does the marketing of his films.

Moving on from 3 Idiots, how is work coming along on the film based on your book ‘3 Mistakes of My Life’ being made by Excel Entertainment?

I am really inspired by Aamir’s marketing. In fact there is a lesson for a lot of Indian marketing companies on the way Aamir does the marketing of his films.

Abhishek Kapoor (the director) is very conscious of the comparisons that will come between the book and the film and hence we (Abhijit, Pubali Chaudhari and I) are taking great care in writing the screenplay of the film. In fact even today as we speak, I am working on the screenplay of the film based on ‘3 Mistakes Of My life’. We are aware that after Rock On and 3 Idiots, there will be a lot of expectations from people and hence we are working very hard on getting the screenplay right. I think we should be able to finalise it soon and begin casting in a month or so.

Your most recent novel ‘2 States’ was launched a couple of months ago…how has been the response so far?
‘2 States’ has had a fantastic response… easily the best of all the 4 books, that’s because it’s a very universal love story with a good dose of humour. It’s a very good book for a lot of people to relate and enjoy. It also carries a nice message. Especially in the South, the book has done extraordinarily well. I think I have been able to meet my fans expectations which is the ultimate dream for any writer.

2 States‘ has had a fantastic response… easily the best of all the 4 books, that’s because it’s a very universal love story with a good dose of humour.

That book would make for an interesting Bollywood potboiler…any plans to adapt that book into a film too?
There have been many offers but I know that my fans would like me to be involved with only A-grade Bollywood. I don’t want to sell the rights to any filmmaker just for the heck of it. It should go into the right hands so that it emerges as one of the best films of the year

What else are you busy with these days apart from tweeting….the buzz is that you are scripting a film?
Twitter is a great way to stay connected with my fans. Yes…I do want to script a romantic comedy. Abhishek Kapoor has taught me a lot about screenplay writing. The best part about working with Abhishek is that he has shown me how the screenplay language works and also how to use restraint. Rock On was such a film that expressed so much more in spite of being subtle. My books tend to be quite filmy sometimes (laughs). It’s ironical that a filmmaker is telling me to be less filmy but I am forever indebted to Abhishek for teaching me these things about screenplay writing. Now I am hoping that I can do a better job.

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

HOT! Neha Dhupia in a still from Raat Gayi Baat Gayi

One-night stands are harmless as long as you are not hurting anyone, says Neha Dhupia in a candid chat with BT

ROSHNI K OLIVERA Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; December 30, 2009)

Neha Dhupia made headlines with her line ‘In India only SRK and Sex sell’. Now the focus is on her again with Pritish Nandy Communications’ Raat Gayi Baat Gayi releasing tomorrow. The movie, produced by Rangita Pritish Nandy and directed by Saurabh Shukla, won the best film award at the HBO Asian International Film Festival in New York last month. Neha plays the mysterious gorgeous woman hunted down by Rajat Kapoor, Vinay Pathak and Dalip Tahil, after a night of lots of drinking, sex and zero memory! Ask her if it’s a bold role and she replies candidly, “If you are asking in terms of skin show, then no. But if being bold is a state of mind, then yes.” That’s Neha for you. Not one to mince words, the actress speaks to BT about relationships, sex and movies…

What’s your take on one-night stands?
The problem with one-night stands is that you end up hurting so many people. As long as you are not hurting any one, it’s fine.

In Raat Gayi Baat Gayi you have a onenight stand with a married man…
There are seven characters in the film! Why do you assume it’s my character who’s had the one-night stand? Are you assuming that because I am attractive… Not fair!

Do you think the Indian audience is opening up to sex in movies?
Dev D was a big hit. Indian audiences are open to fantastic scripts. Raat Gayi… is a funny kind of a thrilling experience that takes you through a drunken night. You don’t really know what happened last night. The film is packed with a lot of emotions and it is very relatable. You can relate to one or the other character.

You’ve done movies of various genres… what’s your favourite?
It’s very hard for me to say that. Right from my roles in Singh Is Kinng, De Dana Dan, Mithya, Ek Chaalis Ki Last Local to Raat Gayi Baat Gayi, everything is challenging and at the same time everything is easy. I don’t over-intellectualise the whole acting medium. I’m not working because I have to work. I’m working because I really enjoy doing so.

Are you happy with the way your career has shaped up so far?
I am. I had made a few mistakes, but I don’t regret anything. They have been learning experiences. I have come a long way, but I also have a long way to go…

Everyone knows Kangna Ranaut, the accomplished actress of today. Here, she talks of her past and how it has made her the person she is

By Indu Mirani (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 29, 2009)


• What sort of a child were you?

I was very quiet. I used to suck my thumb. Other kids would never play with me and I would be sitting in one corner. There was something very strange about me. I didn’t live in the present. I was always in a dream world. I would be dreaming about the shows that I watched like Aladdin or Snow White and I would want to go to their world. My father would hate that I sucked my thumb, he would slap me and put my finger down and then I would cry.

• Were your parents strict with you?

I was never a naughty child, never troubled my mother. If you ask my parents they will say that I was very quiet, very peaceful and very scared of them. If they asked me to sit somewhere after five hours I would still be there. (laughs)

• Did you lead a very restricted life?

Yeah, I did. I wasn’t allowed to leave home after 6 o’clock so I would always make sure that I would go out late in the night. Then when my parents would say something like, ‘Andhera ho gaya hai, tum late aayi,’ I would just say ‘yes’. Slowly I became a person who wouldn’t listen to anyone. My father would be very upset with the clothes that I would wear. I don’t know what I wanted to prove. Now when I go home, I usually wear a salwaar kameez and wonder, why was I torturing them? (laughs)

A lot of the restriction came from living in a joint family. I remember having the biggest fights with my grandfather and every one’s jaw would just drop. Nobody had the guts to answer back to him and I was only 12 when I started doing so. He is an IAS officer and had lived all his life in Mumbai and for some strange reason he would always say that first all the males of the family would eat and then the females. I didn’t approve of rules like that and would insist on joining the men at the table. He would leave the table. My parents were quite embarrassed because of me.

• When was the first time you fell in love?

I was quite young. He was my English teacher, a very good looking guy and I was just a 13-year-old. That was the time I became aware of my sexuality. We were very comfortable with each other because he had been my teacher since I was eight or nine. But when I was thirteen and he would say, ‘Beta come here..’ or something like that, I would think what’s wrong with him, he doesn’t have to talk this way (laughs aloud). That was a beautiful romance because in my mind I used to romance him and he would be teaching me.

• How does living in a small town (Manali) compare to living in Mumbai?

These are two completely different worlds. This one is completely fake and that one is the real world. In Manali people live with animals. They feed them fodder and clean them too. So much of nature is involved there that you stay balanced. Here you deal with cars, roads, buildings and if you see a beggar, you treat him like a building and you treat a building like a human being. There is no reality here. I see so much of balance there, I see no balance here.

• What were you studying in Delhi?

Basically I went there for my vacations and then I decided to take admission in some college. Then I met a few people there and got into theatre. If you ask me honestly, I cannot recollect that time. I was like an animal, just wandering around. If someone was going to a modelling agency, I too would go with that person. I wasn’t aware of my actions at all which is a very pathetic and shameful way to live but I was living a life like that.

• So coming to Mumbai was also a part of that life?

Yes, my agency Elite sent me to Mumbai. I didn’t ask why I am going to Mumbai or what I will do in Mumbai. I came to Mumbai because I thought everybody came to Mumbai after Delhi. Then one fine day I stopped taking calls from the agency. I stopped going to the auditions. I used to go to town taking trains to give auditions and then within seven days of it all I was fed up. Then I said, ‘Forget it! I am not going to any audition as I don’t get any work.’

• Isn’t it all difficult for a young girl to manage?

It is and that’s what gets you into trouble. How do people get into problems? Actually they are the biggest problems for themselves. I got carried away with the life here, the nightlife, discos and the whole city life.

• You didn’t have any aspirations?

From childhood I would tell my parents and I would become somebody very famous. They used to be very rude to me when I would say this but for me it was always a matter of fact. I knew I was going to be what I wanted to be even if I had no idea what that was.

• And when you were rejected at the auditions, did it  dent in your confidence?

It did. I went through a lot of insecurities. I was leading a very random life for a year before I got Gangster. Before that too, I was supposed to do a few films. I didn’t have any concept of A grade or B grade cinema. I had hardly seen 10 films in my life. So if someone said, come to this audition, we want to sign a film with you, I would sign it. Fortunately for me, those films never took off. My parents would tell me that I would never be anyone and they would say all sort of negative things and I would think maybe they were right. I would think of myself as a loser in every sense, not only professionally but also in my personal life. That would scare me but also it wouldn’t last.

• Is there anything that you hated about yourself and wanted to change?

I hated everything about myself, my life, everything. When I came here, I was very uncomfortable about the clothes that I wore. I used to wear those really cheap clothes, buy them from streets and wear them and I would look so funny. I used to feel funny, not that I looked funny. Those dresses were not appropriate and no one should go out on the streets in them. They were fine for parties but I had no concept of what to wear and when. And I looked like a 16-year-old coming from some village trying to be modern. Not that I was dumb, I was intelligent but it was just so weird that people kept looking at me not very respectfully and I hated being so uncomfortable. If I had been wearing just jeans and a T-shirt, nobody would have noticed me. That was worse because if you are looking for assignments and modelling work and if nobody notices you then it’s terrible. So I was uncomfortable in every way. I never became friendly with anyone. Life was strange without parents, proper food, proper house, nothing at all in place. I hated everything around me and the way I was. I would go on for weeks and weeks without thinking where I was heading. That was a phase I remember and someday I will definitely make a movie on that.

• Was there peer pressure to do things?

I would do whatever others did. It didn’t matter if I liked it or not. It wasn’t peer pressure definitely but because I wanted to be one of them or maybe I wanted to prove that I belonged to this world, I went on like that for years and years. I didn’t hate it at that point of time. If I would have hated it, I would have changed it. But I had no clue what was wrong with my life. It took me two years to realise who I really am. Not that I hated it but I wasn’t happy either.

Were you lonely?

Loneliness was never a problem because whenever I was lonely I would do something that would make me happy. My problem was that I had too many people around me and they never let me be alone. Before I became an actress, I would go for auditions with people, have coffee and come back, normal life, not very different from Delhi. Then after I became an actress, there were designers, ADs, people who roam around the whole day on the sets. They kind of open those doors for you. You get shocked with what is happening around you but you don’t show it. This is how your new life starts and it just takes over.

• You also got into some wrong relationships

Well, when you get into a relationship it’s not wrong at that point of time and I won’t consider anything wrong with them. For me, I have been in two relationships till now, and both have been beautiful in their own way. It was I who was a random soul, and I still am. I still have so many things to learn in life. I am not a perfect person, nobody is perfect. So whatever experience one goes through is because of oneself.

Did you at anytime realise that you were in relationship that you shouldn’t be in?

See, relationships are not that important in my life. I don’t feel any pressure to say that love means everything and blah blah! For me, I don’t think love is something which will make me complete. It’s who I am. I have something to prove and I have a strong urge to do certain things in life. And if I don’t do that, I will be a very unhappy person. I never gave that kind of priority to any relationship. If I would have done that I would have been in a happy relationship and an unhappy career. I am clear about my priorities now. People at times judge me. They say that she says her priority is her career and her ambitions… but that’s ok. I am not ashamed of the fact that it actually is.

Today I am done with dating. Now if I get into a relationship, it will be with a proper plan. Now I would want to be with a man with whom I can see a future and give it more time and energy. If I see a man turning into my husband in the near future then only will I go ahead with a relationship. This is what life or age does to you. You can preserve your innocence but at the same time you cannot deny the fact that you cannot sometimes take another chance with life.

• So that means you are not going to fall wildly in love now because you are first going to look into the husband aspect of it.

Yeah. That’s true actually; otherwise I have always fallen in love first and then seen the right and wrong of it.

• You are too young to reach this decision. At this age people are still having flings.

Yes, if you start little late. But I started too early. (laughs) I started at 16. (laughs loudly)

• Are you still edgy?

That’s a very difficult question because to explain who I was is very difficult even for me. I mean nobody knows who they really are. Right now, I am definitely not the person who I want to be. There is still a lot to achieve but I am also definitely not the person I hated to be. I am okay now, peaceful,  but I want to be a better person in future. I am sure the better part of me is still to come.

Who do you want to be?

I just want to be a person whose very presence makes people smile. I want to have positivity and grace as a woman. When I came here, I was a tomboy. Not even a tomboy, I was something between a guy and a girl. I want to be a nicer human being so that when I look at myself I should feel proud of myself. Right now I don’t feel proud of myself. Earlier I used to feel shit about me. Whatever I said, I did, everything was wrong. I would always say the wrong thing at the right time. Now I don’t do those things which make me hate myself. I don’t beat myself up everyday when I go home. I am peaceful. But I am not even the person who would be so proud of herself.

• Are you ever fake?

Yes, I sometimes say things for the sake of saying things. Like the most common thing that I would say, “How are you?” makes me feel so fake. I prefer to say, “Kaise hain aap?” that makes me realise what I am saying. When I say it, I do really mean, kaise hain aap? So I am watching myself.

• When you were in trouble at any point in your life, have you taken any favours from your friends?

I have never ever taken any favour from anyone in my life. I have never called up any friend to discuss my problems or ask them for solutions. I have really great friends who claim to stand by my side when I am in trouble. I have been in trouble but never had the courage to test them because if my time was already bad, I wouldn’t want one more shock. So I never really tested my friends.

• When you say you never had the courage, you mean you were scared that they would not be by your side?

I don’t know. I never had the courage to discuss my problems with people around. I have always shown the happier side of me and I will continue to do that. It’s not my friend’s duty or concern to help me out with my troubles. I think it’s unfair to do so.

The presence of friends makes me uncomfortable. It distracts me from the situation. It’s the same with my parents. Even in childhood when I was in trouble, I would lock myself up in my room and would not leave my room until I had solved the problem. I have a lot of faith in my strength but parents and friends get so weak and I just think handling them is much more difficult than handling the situation.

• How do you manage to look so different in every film? Is it deliberate?

Honestly, it is. It bores me to death to be the same because for me it’s a character that I have to get into. So I change everything that I can. So I kind of do the fun things so people are shocked but I don’t like myself looking the same all the time.

Sometimes it can be embarrassing. Recently, at the Paa premiere, one of my co-stars was treating me like a fan. It was only when I said, ‘I am Kangna,’ that he realised that it was me. It’s so embarrassing, we work together for 60 days and they don’t recognise me. It has happened with me a lot. When I was in theatre, my guru used to tell me that it is a blessing in disguise. At times he would give me a guy’s role. He said that you have a face which can be moulded into anything. But another thing that really matters is whether my hair is curly or straight. It changes me so much that sometimes I too wonder about the look. It’s very good for a double role though.

The music of My Name is Khan releases today. Karan Johar tells us five things that everyone wants to know about the film

By Kunal M Shah (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 16, 2009)



• How long do you plan to work only with Shah Rukh Khan considering that actors have a limited shelf life, unlike directors?

I have never worked without him and I have no clue what the experience will be like. I do my best work when Shah Rukh is on the sets as there is this tremendous sense of comfort when he is around and I feel that everything will be fine and fun on the sets. I think I will be working with him for the rest of my life as we have this special connection not only personally but also professionally. We understand each other very well, he is a member of my family and vice versa.

• Don’t you think that right now the audience wants to watch entertaining films while yours is a serious film?

Well, I don’t know as I never calculate anything as far as creativity goes. I know that I have made a film with my heart, soul and a lot of passion. My entire team- SRK, Kajol, Ravi Chandran, Shibani, Deepa, Sharmistha and everybody else- has really toiled to make it a soulful venture. I firmly believe that emotions are universal and I know that when they connect with the audience, it works. There is no such thing as an entertaining or a serious film; there are good films and bad films. Good films will always find a vast audience.

• Your last film Kurbaan had a terrorism backdrop and was promoted as a love story, which clearly did not work. Do you plan to have a different strategy for the promotion of My Name is Khan?

There is nothing about terrorism in Khan. It is a soulful emotional journey about a man who is all for love and that’s exactly how we are promoting the film. I certainly have no idea why the rumours about terrorism in Khan are doing the rounds.

• My Name is Khan releases on February 12. Do you think it’s the ideal release date considering its Valentine’s Day week and youngsters would want to see a romantic film?

Absolutely! Khan’s core content is a love story. The entire journey is the love story between Rizwan and Mandira, my protagonists. What better time than the Valentine’s Day week for the release of this love story about two people who go through so much in life for love.

• My Name is Khan will have the biggest release till date, even overseas. Do you think it’s the right strategy?

We have a great partnership with Fox Searchlight and it is their strategy to have a platform release, which is what they call such a release. They believe that My Name is Khan has a market way beyond what’s expected and it is their strategy to break certain boundaries of exhibition for this film. They have full faith in the film and I hope their faith pays off. The real work for any filmmaker stars after he finishes directing a film. I spent two years making the film but most of my efforts for the next two months will go in the promotion, marketing and connecting with the audience.

Premiere league

My Name is Khan will premiere at the Berlin Film Festival on February 12. It is expected to be screened at one of Berlin’s most important locations, Potsdamer Platz. Incidentally, it is the first Indian film to be premiered in Berlin.