Crisis or celebration, she's unruffled. After the debacle of a Govinda comedy gone-wrong, titled Sandwich, she's about to return with her third film Kaisey Kahein featuring newcomers Rajveer Dutt and Neha Julka directed by first-timer Mohit Hussain.
I meet Smita Thackeray at a commodious bungalow in Juhu to ask:
Were you so fed up with dealing with stars that you opted to produce a film with newcomers?
See, a couple of years ago, I'd said that I want to work with newcomers at my Cinema People's Academy. During the auditions for Kaisey Kahein, I saw what newcomers have to through even the casting couch. It's really unfortunate that genuine talent doesn't have access to filmmakers. I discovered Rajveer Dutt through a friend.
How many more newcomers do you intend to launch?
Why put a ceiling to anything? I've always believed in doing the right thing. See, I won't earn a single rupee from this film. It has been produced for the benefit of my technicians. I can earn more money from my other businesses.
You mentioned the casting couch syndrome.. could you elaborate? <b1>
No one will admit this but it exists. When you meet a person you can read his eyes.. eyes never lie. Anyway, why single out the film industry? This piece of furniture exists in every field.
Whom would you blame for this?
I would blame those who succumb to the temptations offered by the glamour world. In fact, I would like to warn girls who get blinded by glamour.. they only end up getting exploited.
What about boys and the casting couch?
Amazing, isn't it? What a kalyug! It's shameful to even talk about this.. it's just the influence of the west. I believe one should be really open about the fact if you're gay or bisexual.. you can be in your own group and be happy.
Recently, I heard about a boy who was all over the TV channels. I don't know how far his story is true. But it did leave a bad impression about the film industry particularly to the kids who're glued to television. I think we're losing our sanskriti.
Why aren't you seen much on the high-society circuit nowadays?
Ha! That's a good one.. I've been keeping away from that scene consciously. My elder son Rahul is doing an animation and film direction course in Toronto.
Earlier, my younger son Siddhesh and I would go out and socialise. I don't think it's necessary. There was a time when I would be all over Page 3..but I don't like being there.
Why are you so averse of appearing on Page 3? Was it affecting your image?
Yes! Today every Tom Dick and Harry is on Page 3. So, what's the big deal?
Smita Thackeray, at one point, was considered to be a very powerful woman.
What power are you talking about? The power of my name? That will remain forever. Whether we are ‘in power' or ‘not in power', the position of the Thackerays cannot be questioned.
I've never used or misused my power even when my family was in power. I feel powerful myself. I've been blessed with everyone's love and respect. I'm humble with everyone.. but when required, I can be strong and aggressive.
Why have you decided to shift from Matoshree in Bandra to this Juhu residence?
I'm staying in Matoshree.
So, is this your office?
I come here to meet people so there's no security hassle. I stay in Matoshree only.
Are you involved in politics in anyway?
I belong to a family which is involved in politics.. so directly or indirectly, I'm involved in politics. <b3>
Do you ever intend contesting an election?
I never plan anything.. I never decided to get into Bollywood. What has to happen will happen.
Did you see Sarkar? It was reportedly based on the Thackeray family.
It's not the story of saheb (Balasaheb Thackeray). Ramu (Ram Gopal Varma) had adopted saheb's dressing style and mannerisms.. Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan) did full justification to this. The story's not related to our family at all.
See, Ramu has never been close to our family to know about us.. but he did get plenty of mileage.. and publicity.
Mr Balasaheb Thackeray didn't have any objections?
After the completion of Sarkar, saheb spoke to Amitji who said that the film has nothing to do with him. Because he shares a good rapport with Amitji, we waited till the release.
When saheb saw it, he said, "It's just a film." He didn't object. But if Sarkar 2 (Sarkar Raj) has anything.. I don't know.. we will see the film before it is released.
You mean Ram Gopal Varma will have to show the sequel to Balasaheb Thackeray before releasing it?
Yes, of course.