Chitrangada Singh hops over from Delhi to Mumbai.. this time it’s forever.. quizzed by Roshmila Bhattacharya.
It’s been five years since Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and three since Kal.. Yesterday and Tomorrow..
(Interrupts with a smile) Wow, you’ve done your research.
Yeah well, Sorry Bhai, is up for release in two weeks. You okay?
It’s a new beginning..People still remember Hazaaron..expectations are high. I’m even more nervous. Once, I made a film without understanding the enormity of having a release. I do now.
Sudhir Mishra is miffed, he’d wanted Aur Devdas to be your comeback movie?
It was all about timing. Sanjay (Suri) and Onir wanted to start Sorry Bhai immediately. Aur Devdas took time. Either way, we do start shooting in January.
You’ve signed another film with Sudhir Mishra, Nawab and Johhny Company, in which you’re playing a courtesan?
That’s in July. I’ve been reading books on Urdu poetry and listening to teach yourself tapes to get my pronunciation right. I’d like to meet Muzaffar Ali before we start shooting. His Umrao Jaan is my favourite courtesan film. He has seen that life from up close in Lucknow.
What’s been the reaction to Sorry Bhai at preview shows?
Positive. Raju Hirani sent me a message saying he’d loved it.
Wouldn’t you have preferred something more glam?
I’d love to do glam roles but Aliya was a girl-next-door. It had to be an everyday, jeans-and-shirt look.
Every actress is hitting the gym with a vengeance now.
Yeah, it’s killing to see them killing themselves. It was a virus that struck the west in the 1980s and now it has invaded India. I prefer sports and swimming to running on the boring treadmill.
Recently, I went sky diving. Twice, I jumped from 4,000 feet and then went higher to 10,000 feet. It was a near-death experience.. so liberating and humbling. When you take off the plane your soul is stuck inside and you wonder if the parachute will open. We were in the company of army jawans who had no idea who we were.
They are simple people who run 10 km every day without thinking about weight or winning a medal. Their expectations are low.. their happiness quotient is high.
The director, Onir, describes Sorry Bhai as another take on ‘forbidden love’. Ever been through taboo land in real life?
(Laughs) No, I’d have been in a really tight spot then. But I like the fact that if Aliya believed in something she went after it without worrying about people.
I empathised with that because I’ve grown up in small town, Meerut, and studied in a convent school where debating was encouraged..but not dancing, stage shows or even cycling. That brought out the rebel in me. Why couldn’t they let me do what I was happy doing?
Any upheavals in your married life?
No marriage is smooth sailing. There are times when Jyoti (Randhava) and I have nothing to say to each other. (Laughs) And then there are days when we can’t stop talking.
My husband is a professional golfer and has to prove himself every single day. The demands of the job can get to you and as his wife I’ve been through his mood swings. Now, I can take them in my stride.
Is your husband okay about the movies now?
Yes, I went back three years ago but that wasn’t because my family was creating problems. I just wasn’t ready for the film industry then. But I’m here now.. and this time I’m here to stay. This is where I want to be.. what I want to do.. what I’m best doing.
And what about Jyoti?
For eight years, I’ve travelled with him around the world. It was tough living out of a suitcase. I’ve done my bit. He understands that now I choose to do what I want and is supportive of my decision.
Neither of us are in 9 am to 5 pm jobs. If we can juggle our schedules well, we can still manage plenty of time with each other.
Will he be at the Sorry Bhai premiere?
I’m not so sure. He’s out of the country for five weeks and the World Cup in China is scheduled for the same time.
Buzz is that you are shifting to Mumbai.
I still have family in Delhi but I need a place in Mumbai. If I have to shoot for a month I want to be home, not live in a hotel.
Does your son recognise you from your promos?
The other day he saw an old picture of Parveen Babi and he thought it was mummy. (Smiles) He’s still so young.
One would have thought he’d mistake you for Smita Patil.
I’ve been hearing, “You’re so much like Smita,” for years. I take that as a compliment. It raises the bar. Right now everyone’s building me up but I know they can pull me down just as fast. And I have to be prepared for that.
How did Shabana Azmi react to you? She and Smita Patel were contemporaries.
(Smiles) She told me on day one that she didn’t want to know me too well because our relationship in the film is rather tense. Still, we got along fine even though the shoot in Mauritius was really hectic.
You have an intimate moment with Sharman Joshi in the film. No problems with that scene?
It was important to the film since it marks a point of no return for both of us. It was necessary and it’s not overt.
Onir is working on an adapatation of Hamlet. Will we see you as Ophelia?
We’ve been talking about it.
Will you be doing his Kill Chabria too?
No, but there are other offers.. lots of them. I’m just waiting for Sorry Bhai to release.
Now that you’re a movie actress will you find time for painting?
Oh, that’s just a hobby and strictly amateurish. I sketch horses.. and my dogs. I’ll make time for it.
You’re into interiors too?
Isn’t every woman?