Soha Ali Khan up close and personal with Roshmila Bhattacharya.
What does the number 99 mean to you?
(With a laugh) Well, I’m on tenterhooks when Sachin Tendukar is batting on 99. That apart, 99, at the moment, is the title of my next release.. a fast-paced, action-packed, incredibly slick fun ride with an interesting ensemble cast.
The film is releasing on May 1, bang in the middle of an economic slowdown, a multiplex strike and the second season of IPL. You are either supremely confident of your film or daringly foolish.
It’d like to believe it’s the former. 99 is an originalwork and coming during the IPL could help because we won’t have to worry about big competition. Sure, cricket is the national passion but cinema is also the staple diet in India. If it’s a paisa vasool film, it will definitely find takers.
Wasn’t Jannat a big hit last year? And like Jannat we have a cricket connection too. The cast will be going to South Africa to cheer for the Mumbai Indians. Sachin will be wearing a jersey with the number 99.
After a string of commercially unsuccessful films, Dhoondte Reh Jaoge being the last debacle, you must have your hopes pinned on 99?
Those who saw Dhoondte.. enjoyed it. It could have been marketed better. The climate is bad. Apart from Raaz 2 no other film has worked this year. It’s disheartening when your hard work is not seen. But at the end of the day, I’m just an actress and my job is to perform.
After the superhit Rang De Basanti, one expected Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra to repeat you in Dilli 6.
I was never offered Dilli 6, Rakyesh was very clear about whom he wanted.
What did you think of Sonam Kapoor?
I’m yet to see the film. I haven’t even seen my mother’s 8 X 10 Tasveer. I’ve been working round-the-clock these last two months. Tum Mile which is based on the July 26 deluge, wrapped up just last Friday. Now I have a life again.
I’m told you’ve been shooting in waist deep water for Tum Mile?
Yeah, stinky, unhygienic, freezing cold water for 35 days. We took all kinds of injections. I even took scuba diving lessons, so I could swim underwater. A couple of times I was scared for my life.
There was one Titanic-like sequence. Emraan (Hashmi) and I are walking down the corridor. A wall breaks and 30 gallons of water comes rushing down on us. It almost swept me away. I was pretty badly hurt.
Apparently, you were really stranded on the streets on July 26, 2005.
Yeah, SV Road was pitch dark. We walked holding on to a rope with water almost reaching our shoulders.
Neil Nitin Mukesh and Karan Nath, your Tera Kya Hoga Johnny co-stars, didn’t see eye to eye on the sets?
I didn’t see any signs of friction. I didn’t even see them together on the sets because they don’t have scenes together.
Your mother, Sharmila Tagore, and you were supposed to be working together in Cheers, Jewellery Box and Jahnu Barua’s next.
All three projects have fallen through.I was never offered Cheers. I was offered Jahnuda’s film but the role was too small. I’m still doing Aparna Sen’s Jewellery Box but my mother has been replaced by Moushumi Chatterjee.
There’s an English film with my mother, Life Goes On, which we will start shooting in London from May.
Shakti Samanta passed away recently. Do you have any memories of him?
I wasn’t even born when Aradhana and Amar Prem were made. My mother will miss him.
Would you want any of these films to be remade with you?
I don’t endorse remakes. Once an actress does a film, it is owned by her. Aradhana, Amar Prem, Mausam, Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansar, Devi and Nayak are all beautiful films.. and they are my mother’s.
Your mother says Saif makes for a cute Sardar in his first home production, Love Aaj Kal.
He’s good.. we’ve never seen him as a Sardar before. I also like him as the young, brash, 21st century guy. My brother is very versatile actor. There’s an innocence about him because of which even a manipulative Langda Tyagi (Omkara) ends up getting the audience’s sympathy vote.
Which character has been closest to the real Saif?
None really.. but you see his sense of humour in Dil Chata Hai. And in Parineeta he reminded me of dad (Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi).. his clothes, hair, intensity and maturity.
It was a revelation because normally you know him as the young, carefree, slightly spoilt chhote nawab.
After Kareena Kapoor entered his life, he’s supposedly become more mature.
He’s more responsible now.. marriage, fatherhood, winning the National Award, getting into production have all brought about the change.
Kareena’s made him calmer.. more focussed on his work. They look great together and are very much in love. It’s not easy for two busy actors to build a relationship but they’re working on it.. giving each other space and strength.
My brother has always been an incredibly generous, wonderfully sensitive guy who was a lot of fun.
During my birthday parties, he was in charge of the games. He’d come up with amazing clues for the treasure hunt. I also remember my first piano recital as student of the Delhi School of Music. I was so nervous.. and then I saw him sitting there..
Does the close bond extend to Kareena as well?
It does. She makes a huge effort to bring the family together. I love going to Saif’s house now because it feels like a home. My mother is in town today and we’ll be having dinner together.
You’re looking for love too?
I’ll definitely have a love marriage. I won’t settle for anything less. My standards are high but not impractical.
I’m aware of my own shortcomings. Materialistically, I’m low maintenance but emotionally, I need a lot of attention. Being the baby in the family, I’ve always been indulged.
My man should have a sense of humour, be educated and athletic, sensitive and caring. He should be able to cook, clean and drive well, so he’s always in control of any situation.
If the buzzvine is to believed, you’ve found Mr Right in Kunal Kemmu?
The buzzvine is not to be believed. Going by it, we actresses were born to fall in love with every co-star.
Will you be watching the IPL?
Sure. Even my dad who played the classic form of Test cricket, finds T20 entertaining.
Did you discuss the Maxim cover with your dad?
Absolutely not! He must have seen it but he pretended it never happened. Reminded me of when I’d return home at 4 am. He’d know I’d been out all night but at breakfast, he’d behave as if I was still six years old and had gone to bed like a good girl at 10 pm.
And your mother?
My mother would have given me hell if the picture had been in bad taste. But she was frankly surprised by all the hullabaloo. She was a trendsetter in her time. She’d posed for a magazine cover back in the 1960s in a swimsuit. For her the Maxim cover was pretty tame.
Will you now do something bolder now that Kareena has publicly bid adieu to her bikini days?
Not for a while. The roles I have aren’t glamorous, so why go out on the limb. I’m young and I can have fun now. May be five years later, I won’t be willing.
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