When Aamir first called me, he refused to reveal any details about the plot. Even during the first two meetings, he simply asked if I was free. I said, 'Yes, but for which film?' Then I think he finally decided to trust me and told me that Reema (director Reema Kagti) was working on a film called Talaash.
Aamir Khan is back with Reema Kagti's Talaash. With its plot kept tightly under wraps, the crime-thriller is generating a lot of curiosity. Aamir Khan is sharing screenspace with two beauties- Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukerji.
There was already buzz around the film, but for me, it was about working with Aamir. I'm a huge Aamir Khan fan! I love him. Saif also knows this.
Reema, why did you pick Kareena?
Reema: I thought she was the best person for the part. It's a role that needs a lot of gravity and guts. I think she has those qualities.
With two big actresses in a film, is there insecurity about whose role is bigger?
Reema: Rani and Kareena are extremely accomplished and very secure actors. They don't function that way. Apparently, Aamir didn't agree to do the film when you first approached him.
Reema: It's not like he didn't agree. He was doing Ghajini (2005) at that time, and he knew he was going to do Dhobi Ghat (2010) next. He was also going to take a year off after that. He was like, 'I'm not going to hear any script for the next two years'. So we didn't even get a chance to narrated it to him.
Once Aamir came on board, nothing seemed tough. The easiest way to get a movie made is to get Aamir to say yes to it.
Why was there such a long gap between your last film (Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd; 2007) and Talaash?
Reema: It was a forced sabbatical. I'm not a very patient person. So it wasn't easy. But that's what a writer-director's life is like. Sometimes, things take off, sometimes they don't. I really believed that this was a story that needed to be told. So I stuck to it.
Kareena, Rani, what was it like for you two to work together again, after Mujhse Dosti Karoge! (MDK, 2002)?
Kareena: Unfortunately, we don't have any shots together, apart from the promotional song. Professionally and personally, we share a wonderful relationship. It's been 10 years since MDK. I don't call her every day. But every time something important happens in my life, there is always a text from her.
Rani: When I see Kareena today, I'm proud of her. The way she has built her career is amazing. She has grown from strength to strength. I adored her in Jab We Met (2007). She was always beautiful, but now as Mrs Khan, she has become even more beautiful.
Kareena, are you happy with your performance in the film?
Kareena: If an actor is content with his or her performance, 90 per cent of the time, others will like it too. But the media thinks, I shouldn't have done this, or I should have done that better. Maybe that's why I stopped watching my films (laughs).
How do you choose roles?
Kareena: The film might be a potboiler, or it can be a song-and-dance kind; I enjoy both. On a rare occasion, you come across a great script. And then you don't mind just being part of it. I mean, even Brad Pitt did Babel (2006); I don't think he had a very good role.
I also must credit Saif for teaching me how to choose better roles in the last five years. He says the issue with us actors is that we are always looking for the main role. But sometimes you might want to do a particular role, even if it's the smallest of parts.
Do you read every script that you get?
Kareena: I don't read scripts.
Reema: You just keep narrating the script and make loud sounds to wake her up.
Kareena: So many times, in the first 10-15 minutes of the narration, you're thinking, 'Oh my God, I have to sit through this?' Eventually, I just get busy with my phone.
Reema: At some point, every actor tries to stifle a yawn. But they do it politely.
Rani, you've become choosy about your roles of late.
Rani: I don't think it's about being choosy. I want to make myself happy, and if a role doesn't challenge me, I don't do the film. If I get bored myself, I don't expect the audiences to get excited.
What's so challenging about Talaash?
Reema: I think Rani has the most difficult part in the film. Aamir and Kareena's parts are more in the author-backed role format. I think she (Rani) has taken her character to another level. It's beyond what Zoya and I had written.
How did you prepare for this role?
Rani: I just kept seeing what Kareena was doing in terms of preparation. Because she was doing so much (laughs).
Kareena: You mean, watching TV, going on holidays and eating food? That was my preparation.
Why is your personal life such a closely guarded secret?
Rani: My life is not really a suspense story, but the media has made it into one. Meri life ek khuli kitaab hai, but mere dosto aur parivaar ke liye (My life is an open book, but only for my friends and
family). I think it's my responsibility to keep my personal life personal for the sanity of my parents.
Rema: I think she (Rani) has taken her character to another level. It's beyond what Zoya and I had written.
Recently, in an interview, you said that you were egoistic about your roles…
Rani: Yaar, tum log jab interview likhte ho, baat twist karke kuch bhi bana dete ho (You guys twist our words in your interviews). I said, 'I am egoistic as an actor'. The answer is in that interview, but you won't refer to that. You want gossip. I was asked if I'd have liked to do Kareena's role, and I said I would love to. But the point is that as an actor I'm egoistic and would love to do the role that the director comes to me with, because she has already visualised me like that.
Reema: It's an unfair question. People, who are accomplished and secure, don't think like that. They don't think about what's mine and yours.
Rani: It's about framing the question right. But what makes for a great copy is a headline like, 'I am egoistic.'
Have you seen Reema's earlier film, Honeymoon Travels?
Kareena: I haven't seen Honeymoon Travels. Main ab tak honeymoon pe hi nahi gayi hoon, yaar (I haven't even been on a honeymoon yet).
Rani: I have watched it; I thought it was very entertaining.
Reema, how do you decide what kind of films to make?
Reema: I don't decide the genre. It's more about the idea that I need to fall in love with. In both my films, it was the idea that lead to the premise.
Which one of your two films was more challenging?
Reema: I think, Honeymoon Travels, because it was my first film and I got into it without knowing whether I could manage it or not. I realised the challenge when I was with all 13 actors on the sets. I was intimidated, but then I kind of slipped into it. All of them are talented people.
What's your next film likely to be like?
Reema: The next one I'm writing with Zoya (Akhtar) has elements of comedy. But it's essentially a drama.
In the promos, Rani looks healthier than Kareena.
Reema: I encouraged my actors to eat well because I want them to transcend their stardom and become middle-class people. I was encouraging her (Rani) to put on weight. I asked Rani not to diet.
Rani: Yeah, she did ask me.
Reema: In fact, I even asked Kareena and Aamir not to diet. I think people who diet are not real people and don't look genuine.
Have you seen the text message that is supposedly revealing the film's ending?
Rani: I heard about it; it just helps the film a lot.
-Transcribed by Vishal Manve