Director Mudassar Aziz is a very special friend. Right ma’am. She can lose weight as fast as she puts it on. Right, right ma’am. She won’t shake-rattle-and-roll at the mention of Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag in which she became an infinitely taller Jaya Bachchan. That’s fine, ma’am.. why ignite a controversy ki aag? She won’t do this, won’t do that. Even if she does, she’ll give Café and Bistros, lollipop answers. Never mind. It’s still one of the coolest perks in a journo’s life to do a face-to-face with Sushmita Sen. And that’s just what Hiren Kotwani did.
You’re known as an actress.. not as a dancer. So what prompted you to take up a reality dance show like Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena?
I’ve been getting offers from television for some years, but I wasn’t convinced about the concepts. I was attracted by the show’s concept.. in which cricketers come and dance. Then I had only so much time when the show was offered.. and the money was very good, before you ask me about it.
One would have thought you would debut on TV as a talk show hostess.
I haven’t debuted.. debut would be something that has my signature on it. This is judging, it’s been fun. But some day.. I could do a show which has my signature. No plans yet.. unless I have the time and the channel has the budget.. (laughs) I’m very expensive.
So have you started watching cricket more often after shooting the show with cricketers?
I started watching cricket religiously for the IPL. It was especially exciting with my film fraternity friends owning teams.
How come you weren’t seen at any of the IPL matches?
I don’t like to sit in a box and keep wondering who is playing, where the ball is going. I attended only one match, between Bangalore and Mumbai, for my friend Vijay Mallya, at the Wankhede Stadium. That’s the only match I don’t remember. I’ve been asked by Harbajan Singh to watch his match, I’ll go for it.. he has promised to win it too.
What is your take on high drama becoming an important part of reality shows to earn TRPs?
I cant stand it.. that’s why I chose this show. It’s spontaneous, we don’t put any of the contestants down. I don’t want to see people crying, going to hospital. This show is inspiring, it’s for every age group, very clean and dignified, something that I can’t say about some other shows.
Okay, coming to films. What’s ailing Karma Confessions and Holi?
I’ve no clue. Ask the producers. Initially, it was to be premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, chaired by Robert De Niro, since his daughter Drena is one of the producers. I don’t know what happened.
Apparently, Dulha Mil Gaya was being shelved since Shah Rukh Khan’s portion may not be shot.
Shubh shubh bolo. Shah Rukh’s currently shooting for Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and his own production Billoo Barber. Simultaneously, he’ll shoot for Dulha, soon this year.
Shah Rukh and I had just 15 minutes of screen time together in Main Hoon Naa. It worked so well, that the next time it has to be far more overwhelming.
How come you didn’t make a special appearance in Om Shanti Om?
I was travelling when Farah was shooting the song. I asked if we could do it another day, but the set was being pulled down after filming. I can’t say no to Farah but it couldn’t happen.
For your first film as a producer, why take on a daunting project like Rani Lakshmibai?
Rani Lakshmibai isn’t my first production.. two other films will be released before that.. they will be announced at the appropriate time. And please, I want to correct the reports calling my film Jhansi ki Rani. It’s Rani Lakshmibai. It’s not about the queen of Jhansi, but a story about a woman.
Who will be directing Rani Lakshmibai?
As of now, it looks like yours truly. We’ll see if that really happens.
When are you planning to start it anyway?
That’s a big question mark. Everything is yet to fall into place, the cast and the technicians I want. So I’m working backwards, since I’m planning to release it in November 2010.
But four film projects have been announced on Rani Lakshmibai. One has even been launched recently with the Pakistani actress Meera playing the title role.
It’s history, anyone can make a film on a certain subject. If you don’t release your film on the same Friday, that should be okay. Soon after, I announced my intentions, the whole world wants to make a film on Rani Lakshmibai. I wish them all the best.
Ketan Mehta wants to make one with Aishwarya Rai.
That’s even better.. ha ha..
Do you regret doing any films? Like Chingari and Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag.
No. I respect what I do, even if it doesn’t work. If I apologise for a film, then I’m not good at what I do. I’ve come this far doing what I’ve wanted to. Now I want to do more commercial films.
Your daughter Renee was very confident walking the ramp with you on the Simi Garewal show. What if she wants to become an actress on growing up?
What do you mean what if? She already wants to.. she’s very mesmerised about mamma and the world.. she sees television for one hour in two-three days.
As a kid I wanted to become a pilot, an airhostess and ended up becoming an actress. I don’t know what she’ll become, but I hope that the poise, confidence and grace remain..
Your mother and brother launched jewellery stores in Dubai and New Delhi. Any more coming up?
In good time. It’s named after my daughter. We’re not in a hurry. If you look at my career, I haven’t shown any hurry there too.
You also wanted to start your designer line. What happened?
In time.. in time. I don’t like the word ambitious as much as I like aspirational.