HT City Vibe of 25: Urmila on Kaun: A bunch of crazy people, I was the craziest - Hindustan Times
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HT City Vibe of 25: Urmila Matondkar on 25 years of Kaun: You can’t expect it to become a Kuch Kuch Hota Hai or Judaai

ByMimansa Shekhar
Feb 26, 2024 08:11 PM IST

While Urmila Matondkar’s performance created a benchmark in the horror-thriller space in Bollywood, she says it was a “black hole” for her.

Actor Urmila Matondkar wants Kaun (1999) to re-release so that people don’t watch it on phone and she can see “the audience frenzy”. The psychological thriller completes 25 years in 2024.

Urmila Matondkar starrer Kaun is a psychologican thriller.
Urmila Matondkar starrer Kaun is a psychologican thriller.

“It was a bunch of crazy people coming together, and I must’ve been the craziest of all,” the actor quips in a chat with us.

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Kaun was experimental. The 50-year-old agrees. “We hardly had films in one closed space, actors in the same attire, restricted frames...” she recalls how Kaun introduced the audience with a unique style of filmmaking.

Urmila Matondkar starrer Kaun (1999) completes 25 years in 2024.
Urmila Matondkar starrer Kaun (1999) completes 25 years in 2024.

Kaun, directed by Ram Gopal Varma and also starring Manoj Bajpayee and Sushant Singh, came to Matondkar when she had already established herself as the “Rangeela girl”. For Matondkar, “to have an actor who’s known for all glitz and glamour, and a set image, was a major risk both for me and the maker.”

Kaun had a mediocre run, but the actor gave reasons too. “I was constantly screaming in my interviews that you can’t expect it to become a Kuch Kuch Hota Hai or a Judaai because it is not made with that kind of mindset, budget or intent.” Matondkar said, adding “A producer came to me and said how could you even do a role like that?”

While she called it a risk at that juncture of her life, she stated that since Bajpayee and Singh were “comparatively newcomers”, “they didn’t really have as much to lose like I did.”

Matondkar played a “nameless” woman in the movie. Her flip towards the end, continues to remain one of the most shocking and unexpected moments of Kaun, and even the movies that were made in the 90s.

For her, the most difficult part was to captivate the audience sans any dialogue in the prelude before Bajpayee enters the film. She called “creating her character out of vacuum” as something that was “extremely scary and challenging.” “I myself had never seen anything close to that,” she said.

Urmila Matondkar and Manoj Bajpayee in a still from Kaun.
Urmila Matondkar and Manoj Bajpayee in a still from Kaun.

While Matondkar’s performance created a benchmark in the horror-thriller space, it was a “black hole” for her. “Things were literally being made as we were enacting it in front of the camera. And because there was no bound script, it was written on set and seen how they get unravelled as we performed them,” the Pinjar actor shared.

From creating the back story to her reactions onscreen, Matondkar added a lot to her character. “I thought what if I don’t use the knife and just let my eyes do the needful before the dagger actually comes into the frame - that’s the last minute change I made. When the camera rolled, my spot boy dropped everything he was holding. That’s when I realised I had nailed it,” the actor signed off.

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