They are some of the busiest stars in Bollywood, so we knew that getting their dates was going to be a challenge. But one thing that we didn’t have to worry about during the shoot was the chemistry between the actors. Even as Ranbir Kapoor came up with a few suggestions for Deepika Padukone, vis-à-vis the shoot, they looked like they had a lot to catch up on going by their constant animated conversations. “Deepika, smile more,” instructed Ranbir, laughing.
On the other hand, the first thing Radhika Apte asked Nawazuddin Siddiqui about was his hospitalisation (he was admitted a few weeks ago). Later, they discussed her upcoming jury duty at the Cairo International Film Festival. “I hope everything goes well, Nawaz,” she said.
This Diwali, HT Café brings together four actors, who represent two diverse worlds that exist within the Hindi film industry, under one roof at Café Terra, Executive Enclave, in Bandra (W). During their free-flowing conversations, they chatted about Diwali, their childhood memories, and more.
Diwali to me is…
Deepika: It means celebration, brightness, festive fervour, family, friends, positivity, happiness… and to be grateful for all that we have.
Ranbir: Family, happiness, celebrations, to give gifts and offer prayers for a special year ahead. Saawariya (2007; Ranbir’s debut film) and Om Shanti Om (2007; Deepika’s first movie) also released on Diwali (smiles).
Radhika: Spending time with my family and loved ones. I remember, when I was a kid and lived with my parents, we would go and meet our extended family on Diwali.
Nawazuddin: I remember lighting diyas with my friends, eating and distributing mithais. So, this festival is all about my childhood, which was filled with sweet memories.
Effects of stardom
Ranbir: I don’t think stardom has changed the way we celebrate this festival in any way. We still celebrate it with our family, and we continue to do good work. It’s pretty much the same except that, maybe, we have to record Diwali wishes for many news channels now (laughs).
Radhika: It hasn’t changed for me. I don’t think anyone will even recognise me if I ever step out on Diwali (smiles). I still step out like how I used to, and I have never faced any problem.
Nawazuddin: Yes, it has changed a bit, but only in a way that there’s a lot of decency in the way we celebrate it now. Earlier we would celebrate it with a lot of passion, and there was a lot of thrill associated with Diwali. Preparations and visiting each other’s houses would start way in advance. We would even start eating mithais days before Diwali (smiles).
Deepika: Earlier, we used to celebrate Diwali in our building compound with other friends from the locality. The day was dedicated to the family, doing puja (prayers), helping mum in the kitchen, decorating the house, making a rangoli, putting up flowers and setting up the diyas for the evening. In the evening, we used to wait for our friends and family to finish, and come down to burst crackers. There always used to be an older person who would light the dangerous crackers like the bombs and ladis; we used to stick to sparklers.
Ranbir: When I was very young, once I took a rocket, and placed it upside down in a box. So, when I lit it, the box took off and missed my face by just a few inches. That day, I learnt that you have to be really careful. As children, we used to get overexcited while bursting crackers, etc. But I feel that one person should always be there to guide you. I feel, over the years, the noise pollution [caused due to crackers] has reduced. Earlier, I remember, we could only hear crackers around Diwali.
Nawazuddin: I remember, as a kid, we would steal diyas from outside other people’s houses in order to make sure that the entire rooftop of our house was filled with diyas (laughs). My brothers, cousins and I would decorate the house. That’s what I remember very vividly.
Radhika: During every Lakshmi Puja, we used to go to my grandparents’ house. They used to make a delicious south Indian breakfast spread for us. I remember the Diwali that came after they passed away. Something stopped for me. It was like a tradition for me, ever since I was a kid.
Nawazuddin: You have to be a extra responsible now. When Diwali ends, you often hear about cases of fire at some or the other place. In fact, I have been scared of crackers since I rolled the crackers’ powder into a ball and lit it up; the whole thing had hit my face.
Ranbir: You have to be [responsible], because now your voice is heard by a large number of people. You have to have a positive influence on society. You can’t lead them in the wrong direction. I have been working with Anushka (Sharma; actor) on a film [with director Karan Johar], and she was telling me about her dog, and how she is promoting a soundless Diwali for him. She has a very interesting take on it. Animals are also living beings, and you can’t scare them. Having said that, there are so many dos and don’ts, but it all depends on how responsible a citizen you are.
Radhika: I always have a mellow Diwali celebration. For me, it is more about meeting people, wearing nice clothes, eating good food, and lighting diyas. I believe in feeling the warmth of the festival rather than adding to the air pollution.
Home away from home
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: This time around, I will be in Dubai on Diwali. I will be back on November 13. I would have loved to push back the dates, but I have to be there for some urgent work. Hopefully, I will be celebrating the festival with my local friends in Dubai, only in the evening. Back home, my daughter, Shora, is very excited. She has already started preparing for the festival, along with my wife (Anjali Siddiqui) and my brother (Shamas Siddiqui).
The Diwali bond
Deepika Padukone: Diwali, in a way, will always be special for us (Ranbir and her). We started off our careers on Diwali (Om Shanti Om and Saawariya released on Diwali in 2007). So, in a sense, we are connected by the festival (laughs). It’s very rare that you start your career with another actor. You might start in the same year, but very rarely does it happen that you start off on the same day. So, it has been an exciting and fun journey for us. Plus, it has been a great learning experience too.
First Diwali in Mumbai
Radhika Apte: As a kid, I remember the enormous amounts of chocolates that I used to get for Diwali. I love mithais too, but the chocolates I would get were amazing. But this Diwali is special, because it is my first one in Mumba. I am from Pune, so I’ve never celebrated it in this city. It has been only two-and-a-half years since I have moved here. And every Diwali, I have gone back to Pune. So, this year, I am going to explore what Yari Road’s (Andheri) Diwali is going to be like (smiles).
Diwali for the Kapoor family
Ranbir Kapoor: Every year, the customary thing is to go to my dadi’s (Krishna Kapoor) house, give her a gift and get something from her too. Then, there is the Lakshmi Puja at RK Films and Studio (Chembur), and then we would light the 10,000 ki ladi with the entire staff, give them presents, and come back and to do the Lakshmi Puja at home. In the past, my parents used to go for their card parties, and we would go to a friend’s place to burst crackers. That was how we celebrated Diwali every year. Now, sometimes, as actors we also miss Diwali due to work and outdoor schedules. This year, we are going to be in the middle of the promotions for our film. Then we will all head to Amitji’s (Amitabh Bachchan) for his Diwali bash, which will become a hub of sorts for the entire film industry.
Crackers or not?
Ranbir: In a way, you do miss bursting crackers because it somewhere reminds you of Diwali.
Radhika: While I was growing up, I was taught not to further contribute to the pollution levels. In fact, I lost my dog a few years ago due to crackers. My dachshund, who was very old — around 14 years — was losing vision due to age. There were so many crackers outside my house that he just flipped out, and went out to never come back. So, I have an example at home, of why you shouldn’t burst crackers. Also, people burst them till late in the night, which leads to so much pollution. I remember just sitting at home at times with all the doorsand windows shut.
Deepika: I can see that we have toned down certain traditions to protect our environment, which is a good thing. If there’s a way of finding a balance, that would be amazing. If there’s a way to make eco-friendly crackers, that will be nice.
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