Monday, December 31, 2012

Neil Nitin Mukesh

‘I won’t blow my own trumpet’ 

 From his choices in films to the ‘much speculated’ love life and plans of co-producing films, actor Neil Nitin Mukesh talks about all that matters with Ankita Kanabar 

(This interview was published some time in the first week of September 2012)

Being the grandson of legendary singer Mukesh, and son of celebrated singer Nitin Mukesh, one could have expected that his debut and rise in the Hindi Film Industry would have been an easy affair, if not a cake walk. But that wasn’t to be. The legendary background and the famous association only made the rough much bumpier for this blue-eyed boy. Recalls Neil Nitin Mukesh, “Since I belong to such a known family in the industry, it brought a lot of goodwill, and made it easier for me to approach filmmakers. But that doesn’t get you work. ‘Log chai pilaenge, koi kaam nahi dega’. People didn’t take me seriously, because they were like, ‘Singer ki family se hai, yeh actor kaise banega?’ It was a lot of struggle before ‘Johnny Gaddaar’ happened. I was offered two scripts – ‘Johnny Gaddaar’ and ‘Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na’ and my heart picked ‘Johnny…’”

In fact, adds the actor, “It actually took me six months to convince director Sriram Raghavan that I was Johnny.” Currently busy with the dubbing of his upcoming film, ‘Shorcut Romeo’, he will be heading for the filming of Bejoy Nambiar’s ‘David’ in Ireland. An excruciatingly packed schedule for the actor, but Neil isn’t complaining. In fact the mere suggestion of work gets the actor excited and animated at the same time. Talking about shooting films back to back, he says, “Oh, it’s been a little tiring, but nevertheless, extremely good. All the three films belong to different genres. While ‘Shortcut Romeo’ is a romantic thriller, and an out-an-out masala entertainer; ‘3G’ is a psychological thriller. ‘David’ of course is a period drama. The feel and look is different, even the characters are unique.”

The method actor, however, makes no bones about the hard work and preparation each of the character has demanded. “Each role has been challenging, and has demanded a lot of background work.”   

For now though, ‘Shortcut Romeo’ seems to be the priority since the film is gearing up for release. The film stars Ameesha Patel and Puja Gupta in lead roles alongside Neil, and is directed by Susi Ganeshan. The actor is pretty excited about the film. He says, “‘Shortcut Romeo’ has been one of my best shooting experiences. And it obviously is one film I’m really looking forward to at the moment. It’s wonderful working with people like Susi Ganeshan, Ameesha and Puja. Himesh Reshammiya has composed for the film. There are lots of mind-blowing action sequences, and so far the film looks good, I hope the audience will like it.” 

A complete homebird, for Neil, beating stress is all about disconnecting and being at home. Sharing his life off the limelight he says, “When I’m at home, I completely disconnect from work. I never bring work home. I just want to spend time with my family, watch movies, play my piano and relax.” On the anvil of this self-confessed romantic, is also a love story. Once the shooting for 'David' is over, I shall begin work on ‘Pal’, which will be my first hard-core romantic film. Generally I don’t like romcoms, because they are neither romantic nor comic. That’s why I’d love to do an out-an-out love story, or a full on comedy.” 

But that’s not the only plan in the actor’s to-do list. Acting besides, Neil is involved in producing and composing music as well. Talking about his new roles, he says, “I have composed music that a film titled ‘Paidar’, that I’ve also written. And I might co-produce the film.” 

Despite a number of niche films in his body of work, does he feel he’s still under-rated as an actor? “Yes, I do think I have been under-rated as an actor. You know, most people here blow their own trumpet. That’s probably how it works. But I will never do that. I cannot blow my own trumpet. But that’s okay. I take each film like a boxing match. On Friday, either you’ll knock the audience with your performance, or they’ll knock you down,” laughs Neil. 

Lately, the actor has been in news for more reasons than just his work - link-up rumours with actress Sonal Chauhan. “It is crazy you know, you say something and it’s completely misinterpreted. Then people ask that other person, and she says something, which is again misinterpreted, and then I’m again asked to react. It’s a vicious cycle. I feel if you love someone, then just for their dignity, you need to express and accept how you feel. Saying ‘we are just friends’ would be fake. And when I’m expressing how I feel for someone, I don’t expect the person to feel the same. Love is unconditional. It’s not necessary that the person has to reciprocate in the same way. Love doesn’t die easily, so I will feel the same for her irrespective of how she feels for me,” he says after much thought. And just an afterthought, he adds, “And yes, there’s no bad blood between the two of us. She continues to remain a co-star and a good friend,” he smiles. 

Smart, sauvĂ©, charming and good player of words – that’s Neil Nitin Mukesh for you!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Salman Khan

“I don’t want to be a larger-than-life superstar”

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This interview was published in the December 22 issue of Super Cinema) 

Salman, is well, Salman. What do you say about an actor who can possibly be called the ‘King of the masses’? He’s given back-to-back hits and the experience of watching a Salman Khan film at a single screen theatre, with all the ‘seetis’ and ‘taalis’, is just something else. While we may all love the change in Hindi cinema, with films going all contemporary, let’s not deny that all of us do enjoy these out-an-out ‘masala’, quintessential Salman Khan films as well. He has his distinctive style when it comes to his films, or dance or whatsoever. His kind of fan-following, leaves you amused. Having started off, with boy-next-door roles like Prem to now having this larger-than-life heroic, on-screen image, Salman’s journey has truly been commendable. He puts in so much of his personal touch to every character he portrays, that people end up calling him by his character, be it Chulbul or Tiger. But he says, he’s not really like any one character. Salman could also be credited for starting this whole, ‘great body’ phenomena, and even the fittest actors may not be able to carry off a ‘shirtless’ look like him. After all, it’s all about the attitude right? While his on-screen image leaves you intimidated, he believes, it’s not the same off-screen. Undoubtedly, the masses welcome him with open arms when his film releases. And now, he’s back, with one of his most iconic characters – Chulbul Pandey. The opening of the film on Friday has been humungous. When we met Salman few days before the film’s release, he seemed confident, and hoped the audience would like ‘Dabangg 2’ just as ‘Dabangg’. He looked pretty exhausted with all the promotions, yet, was in high spirits as he continued to put his humour to display. All calm, composed, and happy, he settled down for a chat, as he spoke about ‘Dabangg 2’, films making 100 crores, his journey, his characters and so much more! Read on…

There’s this whole rage about the ‘100-crore’ club. Do you think now it’s become extremely normal for a film to do that kind of business? It’s been slated that ‘Dabangg 2’ might cross 300 crores?
Let’s first comfortably reach 200 crores at least. Even 100 crore is not possible for some people, so 300 is quite far. But see the theatres are increasing, theatre prices are increasing, fan following is increasing, and people are going to watch a film second and third time, so that has to happen right? I think 100 crore is quite an achievable target now. Atleast for some of us. Only if it’s a really bad film for a big star, it may not cross that. But today, 100 crore is not a big deal as it used to be 2-3 years ago. 300 crore is far, but one thing is for sure, in our lifetime only films may start crossing 300, 400 and 500 crores.

Arbaaz makes his directorial debut. How was it being directed by him?
Arbaaz is a film industry boy. He’s also been an assistant director and he’s been on the sets. He knows the ropes of direction. So, it wasn’t like it’s a new guy directing. Also, the comfort zone between me and Arbaaz is very good, we’re very close and so we used to help each other. Moreover, I think he’s a sensible guy and he’s a fantastic story teller. It’s difficult to manage acting, producing, and directing together, but he’s managed to balance it well. I think he’s a better director, than an actor or producer.

This seems like a ‘family’ film. Does that make the film easier?
Yes, it does get easy. There is a very nice atmosphere. And we got a good script, plus the confidence of the previous film helped. Since it is a home-production, it gets easy. If it was someone else’s production house, it would have been a big task. But since it’s a family thing, it was okay. Like if we didn’t like a scene, we could do it again. Though, that never really happened. But it was a pretty easy way to go about it.

Do hit films bring along responsibility? As in, more expectations from your upcoming films…
The only responsibility is that things should go smoothly from the time I sign a film, to when it releases. Finishing shooting for the film, and then making people aware as to when is it releasing, what’s the genre of the film, and who are the actors in the film, that’s my only responsibility. But after the film releases, there’s no responsibility because nobody knows what shall happen. Sometimes the audience likes a film, sometimes it doesn’t. And nobody makes a film for a loss. Everyone works equally hard, everyone puts in money. Nobody puts in the efforts for a flop. It all depends on the audience.

Sonakshi was a debutante in ‘Dabangg’, and now she’s quite a few films old. Do you see any difference in her?
No difference as such. She’s always been a very talented girl. All she had to do was lose weight before she joined films. So no difference that I see in her. Lately, the media has been bashing her for her weight. But she’d put on some extra weight for ‘Dabangg 2’ since she’s pregnant in the film. The kind of attachment she has towards ‘Dabangg’, she didn’t mind doing that because she had to look like she’s 4-5 months pregnant. She can’t look like a model right? And that’s why she looked like that in her other films too and people then have been criticising her. But now that ‘Dabangg’ is over, she’s lost some weight again.

‘Dabangg 2’ tackles the post marriage romance that we hardly see in films lately...
Not just in films, but even in real life, there’s hardly any romance left between couples. Once you get married, the romance is over. That’s what we’re trying to get in the film. Very few married couples have that kind of romance left.

So, the script of ‘Dabangg 3’ is already ready?
Yes, we have a script, but let’s see if ‘Dabangg 2’ does well. ‘Dabangg 2’ is a continuation to ‘Dabangg’, and we’ve started from where we left. We’ve moved into a bigger city. Chulbul has gone from Lalganj to Kanpur. It’s a continuation because we felt, Chulbul Pandey is nothing without Rajjo, Prajapati Pandey, Makkhanchand Pandey, Tiwari ji, Chaubey ji. So, it’s a bigger city, bigger villain. But, ‘Dabangg 3’ won’t move to the bigger city. We’ll go back and show how Chulbul Pandey became Chulbul Pandey. So the third ‘Dabangg’ is actually the first one. We won’t be moving to a bigger place or something. Sonakshi will also be a part of the third installment, but Chulbul and Rajjo don’t meet in that one.

You add your personal touch to each character, so much so, that people assume that Chulbul Pandey or Tiger is synonymous to Salman Khan. But, it’s not, right?
Yes, very true. I’m not like Chulbul or Tiger. There are lots of shades to everybody’s character. Like say, Chulbul. We hear stories, we meet different people. So sometimes, when we feel that we can add personal elements to a character, we do that. So, you see that little personal touch sometimes. There would be a huge amount of Salman’s contribution in Chulbul. Because Salman cannot do such things in real life, so he makes Chulbul do it. And even if Salman dares to do what Chulbul does, he’ll get into trouble. (Laughs). But I’m not Chulbul or Tiger. It depends. Like at home, I could be a little like Prem, but if there’s something I don’t feel is right, then I could become like Chulbul or Tiger. For the classes, I could be Tiger and for the masses, Chulbul.

From the simple, loving Prem to the larger-than-life characters that you’re playing now. That’s quite a shift!
Every person is greedy. Even you as an actor, and even the audience, your fans, and everyone expects more from you. Work is tiring, especially the kind of work I’m doing right now demands a lot. So, after being appreciated in ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’, there’s a lot expected from you. Now at 47-48, I’m expected to do, ten times better work than I’d done when I was 21-22. The older you grow, the younger and better you’re expected to look, the higher you’re expected to kick, the harder you have to work and now, you’re not forgiven. And, unless and until, you don’t do all these things, you can’t romance. But you know, the reason why I also started doing action was to remain fit. I thought I was slipping. I wanted to be fit, and not be all lazy. Otherwise, then, people would start calling me ‘Salman uncle’. But, the kids these days, I totally love them. Because, they don’t call me uncle or ‘bhai’. They straight away call me Salman (smiles). And, I’ll be getting into the ‘Prem’ avatar very soon for Sooraj Barjatya’s film.

Is doing a sequel tougher or easier?
It’s tough. Even in ‘Dabangg’, the second one has been very tough because in the second one, you tend to get carried away. For instance, I had this laugh in ‘Dabangg’ at one or two instances which became Chulbul’s signature laughter. But while shooting for the sequel, I realised that I was laughing like that in every third scene. That’s not right. See, Chulbul Pandey is a very serious guy. People found his antics funny, but he wasn’t a funny man. What he did, looked natural and not a deliberate attempt to make people laugh. But, in the sequel, while doing some scenes, I felt we were making a deliberate attempt. So, second one you tend to get carried away. It needs to look human, and you shouldn’t be making the character larger-than-life or a caricature. I think the only person who makes his sequels in an outstanding manner is Sylvester Stallone. Be it ‘Rocky’ or ‘Rambo’. They’ve kept it at a human level only. Not larger-than-life or a superhero or any caricature.

People say that ‘Salman Khan has got the pulse of the audience’. You think it’s true?
No, it’s not. I don’t think I have got the pulse of the audience. I think I’ve just got my own pulse. If I go by my own pulse, and if I believe that my own pulse is the audience’s pulse, then I’ve got it. Though, sometimes I also get confused. But, if a script makes me laugh, or it intrigues me, if I feel that this is something I want to do, and would enjoy doing, despite being in the industry for so long, then, I’m happy doing it, and I feel the audience will like it too. If I’ve enjoyed doing something, I believe the audience shall enjoy it too, unless as Salman Khan I’ve lost the plot. If Salman Khan feels that Chulbul Pandey can pull this off, that’s all right. But, if Salman thinks that Salman can pull this off, then he has lost the plot. Thankfully, that’s in control so far. I also have my family to keep that in control, since they would laugh at me, if I think or say something like that.

Post ‘Veer’, you’re being extra careful about your films. That’s a conscious decision?
I had cut down that film to 1hour, 55minutes and that was the perfect length for that film. But, they released the film at 2hours, 38minutes. The 1hour, 55minutes film that I saw was a rocking film. But the makers made it long, and thought they could get away with that but they didn’t. I was extremely upset, because I’d written the film, and I knew that the film looked very stretched with a duration of 2hours, 38minutes. I knew that if it is that long, I would need extra 18 days to shoot the film, so it looks intriguing and action packed, because I needed those high points. Thank God, it didn’t happen but that film was going to be four hours long, I cut it down. But they just stretched it, and that’s a headache. I told that to our director Anil Sharma, but he said long films only worked. So, post ‘Veer’, I’ve made sure that the final cut will go with my approval, because see, at the end of the day, people will come to the theatre to watch a film seeing me in the poster. And if it turns out bad, I am the one who’ll bear the most of it. Earlier I used to get emotional and let go off things. Now I’ve learnt. Aamir does that very correctly you know. He’s particular about what he wants, right from the beginning and that’s very correct. Though, when I put my foot down, sometimes I feel that I hope I’m not taking advantage of my stardom, because that’s a big guilt. But sometimes, you have to be firm. People might say that, ‘he thinks too much of himself’ and all, but I can’t let a film get affected just for being polite to people. So, now I’ve started making it clear right at the beginning that the final cut will go after my approval. And then later there’s always a discussion as to what should go in the film and what not.

But you do seem to love playing such ‘larger-than-life’ characters…
I like to do that. I won’t leave my house, spend my money and go and watch a film if a character is not larger-than-life. Only then, there’s fun. Like Chulbul Pandey as a character has no limitation, he can do anything. Tiger as a character can be taken to a nice romantic level, and then to an action level. That’s more than enough for a character. But that’s only limited to characters, I don’t want to be a larger-than-life superstar.

Interestingly, even though you’ve done action films, your characters have always got that comedy element. What’s the thought process behind that?
Action alone would be boring, unless it’s Jackie Chan type of action. But I don’t want to take my action to the Jackie Chan level because that’s very difficult. So we keep it serious, but we also have gags and punches in between. The actor is not really aware of those gags, or doesn’t make it look like a deliberate effort but the audience laughs at it. It appeals to the audience. So, that’s the thought process. You can see the way Jet Li fights. He has that heroism, but there are gags too. Also, you know, just random action, can’t work. Action comes in with a baggage of emotion. When the emotion is correct, the action looks right. Any fight must have a screenplay. And when an action is backed by an emotion, only then, you can hear the audience saying, ‘Maar Saleko’.

Would we see you write soon?
May be. After I complete this current lot of films and then if I don’t get the kind of films I want, I could write.

And is direction on the cards, anytime?
At the moment, I’m letting it go the way it’s going, with the kind of acting offers I have. And little bit here and there, I do try my hand at direction. Direction in a full-fledged manner will happen, but later, not now.

Have you been planning to shift to a new house?
I want to, but I’ve not been able to move out of that house. It’s difficult because I’ve been there since childhood, and I’m so used to that house. But now, it’s getting very uncomfortable. There’s no place for my clothes, shoes and all that. So, I will have to move. I stayed for as much as I could stay in this house. I’ve also bought a property, and I’m getting the house done, but it’ll be at least a year before I move out.

Tell us about your line-up of films for the next year.
Right now, I’m working on Sohail’s film. Then there’ll be ‘Kick’. There’s a sequel to ‘No Entry’. And then of course, we have Sooraj’s film. When Sooraj’s film will come, that’ll just shake everyone. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Ranveer Singh

“I’m not here for money. I’m here for job satisfaction”

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This interview was published in the Diwali issue - November 10 issue of Super Cinema) 

(Second image, courtesy : R Burman) 

It doesn’t happen very often, that your character becomes a household name with your debut film itself. But, it happened for Ranveer Singh. People started identifying him as Bittoo Sharma, a typical Delhi boy with the colloquial language. Well, that was a great thing but, it could have also worked against Ranveer, since there was a possibility of him getting typecast. But what’s commendable on his part is that just with his second film, ‘Ladies vs Ricky Bahl’, he was able to break the mould. Two films old Ranveer Singh, has made it here on his own, and is even rising high on the popularity charts, especially when it comes to all the young women. It won’t be wrong to call him one of the most promising newcomers we’ve had in recent times. And…he certainly has a very interesting line-up of films, and is working with the best in the business. Seemingly, all his upcoming projects are different from each other, and we certainly would look forward to what he has in store for us. For now, he’s shooting for ‘Ram Leela’. As I spoke to Ranveer, he was on his way to rehearse for a song for this Sanjay Leela Bhansali film, which he was to shoot the very next day. As he talks about the film, and this particular dance number, his voice is brimming with excitement. He’s had a back injury a while ago, but he admits that he’s come out of it, even stronger, and is in his best form. In fact, he reveals, he’ll be seen shirtless in the song he’s shooting for ‘Ram Leela’. Now, that certainly would arouse the curiousity levels of the audience. So, ladies, are we ready to see Ranveer in his super hot shirtless avatar? For now, we have Ranveer Singh in a candid mode, talking about his upcoming films, recovering from the back injury and things that make him happy!

You’re currently rehearsing for a dance number. But you seem like a pro at dancing…
People keep telling me that I seem like a trained dancer, but honestly, I haven’t had any formal training in dancing. I lack technical skills. I need to rehearse so that I can give in my best, and it looks effortless on screen. Plus, I’m so committed to movies, that I don’t wish to leave any stone unturned. Moreover, dancing is something that I love. I enjoy dancing thoroughly, not just in films, but in general even when I’m just partying with my friends.

From aspiring to be an actor to now…how has the little journey been?
It’s been really nice, and I’m very glad for being here, at this stage. At the moment, I’m very happy with the way my career graph is shaping up, and I hope it remains that way. The kind of films, that I’ve signed at the moment, are all so different from each other, and that has kept me so happy. The happiness I get from my professional life is the happiness that transfers to my personal life too. I’m so caught up with work right now, that it’s keeping me very happy. And I hope it remains that way.

You have a very interesting line-up of films. Tell us about it…
I’m extremely happy with the films I’ve lined up. I’ve just finished shooting for ‘Lootera’, which is like a period love story and it’s the kind of character that is completely different from what you can ever imagine me doing. In fact, in the initial days of the shoot, I used to even ask my director Vikramaditya Motwane, that ‘How did you even think of me for this role?’ ‘Lootera’ is quite an intense love story. Then I have ‘Ram Leela’, which is a full on massy film with hardcore entertainment. And then ‘Gunday’ is a film that has a little inspiration from all the Salim-Javed films that we’ve seen in the 70s and 80s. You can say that ‘Gunday’ is Ali Abbas Zafar’s modern take on films of those times. And I’m working with such talented actors like Arjun Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra in the film. Feels great!

Post ‘Band Baaja Baarat’, did you ever feel that you could get typecast, or get slotted in a particular genre or category?
Yes, I thought it might happen, since I’m a newcomer, that too, with no industry background. So, ‘Band Baaja Baarat’ was my first impression, which could have just stayed with the audience forever. For me, it was extremely important to break that image, as soon as I could. And I think to an extent, I did that with ‘Ladies vs Ricky Bahl’, and then with ‘Lootera’, they will see a completely new side of mine, because even I couldn’t initially believe, I could fit into such a role. So, doing diverse films and roles, has always been my constant endeavour. I need to be kept on my toes, I need new challenges. See, I’m not here for money, I’m here for job satisfaction. And I will only get that job satisfaction if I’m challenging myself with each film. That is something I had decided right since the beginning.

How has the ‘Lootera’ experience been?
It was extremely difficult. We shot few portions of it in Mumbai, and then was a long portion of the film to be shot in Dalhousie. But I think the whole Dalhousie schedule was jinxed. The set that was made fell down, and there was bad weather and what not! And then, I also had a back injury. But, we’ve finally finished the shooting. The film feels so right, and it makes me feel so good. I’ve seen few rushes of the film, and it has gone beyond my expectations. When you’re shooting for a particular film, you obviously have some expectations from it. But, when you see it exceeding your expectations, it’s a great feeling. I can’t wait to see it on-screen. But it’ll still be some time before it releases. I know for a fact, that I won’t be having a release any soon, and not in many months. But then, it’s okay, as long as I know that I’m doing some quality work.

Your back injury was really bad. How is it now? The recovery must have been really difficult?
It was very bad, and it was one of the reasons why ‘Lootera’ got delayed. I couldn’t stand on my feet for like a month and a half. And that, is certainly not something good to know. But I was assured by the doctors that if I took my whole rehabilitation process seriously, I could recover well, and in fact get even fitter than I was. So, for three months, every day for 6 hours, I would work on the whole rehabilitation process, and do every kind of physical activity, that made me fitter and stronger. And trust me, I’ve come out of the injury, much more stronger. But the whole incident has taught me a lesson, and I’m now taking things even more seriously than ever before. Though, this has been a very traumatic experience for someone like me, because my physicality matters a lot to me. It’s not just important for my career, but for me as a person, because I’ve always been someone who loves to remain fit, and who loves dancing. But my aim was that I want to be fitter than ever. Also, this was like a much-needed break for me, to spend time with my family and friends, which I usually don’t get the time for. I also could spend time reading and watching lots of films. I saw so many top notch Hollywood films and performances. And you know, when you see other actors perform so well, you’re also infused with that energy and fire to perform better. So, I wouldn’t even say that I wasted my time. That phase has been a big learning experience.

You came out of the injury, much stronger. Do you handle failures in a similar manner?
Oh absolutely! We always go through good times and bad times. But it’s important to learn from your adversities and move on. Moreover, there are a lot of other factors attached to success and failure which are not in your control. So, you can’t just sit and cry. You need to learn from it, and move on. Like in the span of my two and a half year old career, my learning curve has been tremendous. I’ve had such good and bad experiences.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is said to be a task-master. How are you finding working with him?
You can say that he’s a task-master. He is a perfectionist, and sometimes that does make him temperamental. But if you’re an actor who wants to learn and improve, you wouldn’t consider that aspect of his as a negative thing, because at the end of the day, it will only prove to be good for the film. He’s an actor’s dream, and he treats his actors like babies and completely supports them. The kind of support I’ve got from him, not just him, but from my other directors as well, is amazing. He’s very encouraging. I think we have this great sink as an actor-director. In fact, he’s the only director so far, with whom I’ve had this sink, instantly. With my other directors, developing that sink took time.

Tell us something about ‘Ram Leela’ and your character…
Like I said, it’s a very massy film. It has all the masala to make it a thorough entertainer and it has lots of dancing. In fact, this one song that I’m going to be shooting for, is something I’ve been wanting to do for so long. You’ve no idea how excited I am for this film. And my character, well, I’d just say that right from the beginning, Mr Bhansali had told me that he wants me to be in my best form, and best shape. Romeo has to be someone who women fall for, because obviously, Romeo is this quintessential lover boy. He has to look that great. In fact, he had told me that I will be seen shirtless in the film, so, I’ve been working really hard. In fact, the song that I’ll be shooting for, will have me shirtless (smiles).

So, now women could just be drooling over you even more…
(Laughs) Well, I won’t complain at all. I just love it when women come and tell me that they like me. I thoroughly love and enjoy all the attention.

Any other projects that you’ve signed?
There are some very interesting offers, but nothing finalised so far. Things might get confirmed in a month or so. At the moment, I’m shooting for ‘Ram Leela’, and soon ‘Gunday’ will begin so I shall shoot simultaneously for both the films. But at the moment, I’m not sure about what I would be working on, after ‘Gunday’.

What makes Ranveer happy?
Films make me really happy. Apart from that, I just like to have a good time with people and create fond memories. Because the memories and experiences you gather as you move ahead in life, are priceless! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jackky Bhagnani

“I want to smile, be nice to people, win them over”

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This interview was published in the November 10, Diwali issue of Super Cinema)

Women definitely must be finding Jackky Bhagnani charming. With a body like that, a sweet yet mischievous smile, sense of humour and good dancing skills, he certainly could have girls falling for him. But, Jackky wants to be known as a good actor. When you meet him, you see that he is hungry for good work, and is ready to work very hard to get there. He admits that it shall be a slow process, but he seems determined. When I entered his lavish office for this interview, there he was standing right in front of me, dressed as casually as he could. He looked different. Far different from the usual clean-shaven Jackky we see on-screen. I pretty much liked his new bearded look, while I sensed it could be for a film. And just when we got talking, I realised, he didn’t talk like a star, or a well-known producer’s son. He was just like any other 26-year old young man. He spoke what he felt, without giving it much thought. But you do notice his passion towards his craft. He’s not taking it all for granted…and confesses that he does have a long way to go. Jackky Bhagnani gets talking about his recently released film, ‘Ajab Gazabb Love’, upcoming film ‘Rangrezz’ among other things, in a brief chat.

What’s with the new look?
I’m just trying out different looks, since 10 days ‘Rangrezz’s’ shooting is still left. So far, everyone’s liked this new bearded look. So might just keep it for the film.

Are you happy with the kind of response ‘Ajab Gazabb Love’ generated?
We’ve got good reviews for the film, from everywhere, but in terms of the box office, the response wasn’t as good as we expected. There are times when you just do not have any answers as to what went wrong. More so, because it is a good film, people who’ve seen it have loved it, it’s entertaining, and it made people laugh. So, it’s also like a funny situation, when we sit to analyse what went wrong, and you just have no answer because the film is actually good. Though, as an actor, I’ve got a lot of appreciation, and messages just can’t pouring in, I’m a little disappointed with the box office response since my father is the producer of the film. Yes, I’m slightly disappointed, but that hasn’t really affected my confidence because as an actor, I’ve grown a lot in this film, and eventually, my performance in the film will help me in the long run. Because, as an actor who’s still quite new in the industry, the appreciation for my performance matters more to me than the box office collection at the moment.

The promo of ‘Rangrezz’ has been getting some great reviews…
Honestly, I’m taken a back, by the kind of response I’m getting for ‘Rangrezz’. While I obviously try and do something different with every film, people seem to have formed this image of me, and see me as Jackky Bhagnani only in my films, be in ‘F.A.L.T.U’, or ‘Ajab Gazabb Love’. With ‘Rangrezz’, I think I’ve shaken them as an actor, and they might just take me more seriously as a performer. The action in the film is very real.

Throw some light on the plot of ‘Rangrezz’ and your character…
My character in the film is of this very young and rooted guy. The film is about this never-ending battle of love or lust. And when two people get married, or they get separated, they assume that only their life is getting affect, but what they fail to realise, is that there are many people around them who get affected. Somehow, today, people have become less tolerant, and have no patience, hence marriages break. Earlier, people had more successful marriages than they have today, because women are now more educated, and at par with the men. Earlier, marriages used to work only because women would adjust, compromise and couldn’t think of a world without their husbands. They used to even depend on their husbands for financial security. Now, that’s not the case. So, why should they compromise or suffer? Having said that, I’ve always felt that women are far more superior than men.

You had to really prepare a lot before venturing into films…though, people assume that being a producer’s son makes it easy for you. What’s your say?
I had to prepare a lot, not just physically, in terms of my looks, but also, mentally and emotionally. It got more difficult for you when nobody believes in you. The way I looked back then, even my family didn’t believe that I could make it in films. And physically, to get in shape and all that is still easy once you make up your mind; preparing mentally was the difficult part, because at least I had to believe in myself, and be confident since nobody else believed in me. I also have to be extra careful about how I behave because people might just directly assume things about me because I’m a producer’s son. But even if people criticise, or just assume things about me, I have no qualms. I’m a very positive person, so I don’t really crib. I want to just keep smiling and have a good time. I want to enjoy what I’m doing. I work hard and party harder. I want to be nice to people, even if they aren’t nice to me, and win them over. More importantly, I want to keep working hard. It’ll be a slow process, but I have to keep at it. 

Are you a trained dancer? You seem like a pro at dancing.
Oh! I take that as a compliment. No, I’m not really a trained dancer, but I went to Shiamak Davar’s dance academy for some time. It’s just that I love dancing. Dancing is therapeutic for me, and I forget everything when I’m at it.

We’ve seen a lot of new actors stepping into the industry this year. There might be some tough competition…
It’s nice to have a healthy competition. But all one needs to do is, keep working hard, and concentrate at what you’re doing. Whoever’s good, will stay, for sure. But yes, healthy competition is always nice!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


“Akshay doesn’t come with any baggage or ego problems”

By Ankita R Kanabar 

(This interview was published in the December 1 issue of Super Cinema) 

She’s enjoyed stardom down the south, but now, Asin can boast of an equally successful Hindi film career. She’s not very old in the industry, yet she’s worked with the best people. Having worked with the likes of Aamir Khan, Ajay Devgn, Salman Khan, and Akshay Kumar, she’s certainly giving a tough fight to other actresses. In fact, we wouldn’t really be surprised if her contemporaries would envy her. Not to deny that most of her films have proven to be blockbusters at the box office. Comedy seems to be her forte, and she has made an impact in Hindi films, with her little stint. It’s hard to not notice her on-screen, with that kind of a dynamic presence, even though she’s next to the heartthrobs of Indian cinema. She’d proven her acting prowess just with her debut Hindi film, but, Asin believes that she has a long way to go. She has no qualms about doing multi-starrers, as long as she gets a well-written, fleshed-out role. The actress, is extremely calm, composed, sorted, and seems content. She’s smart when it comes to answering questions. And we can say, she’s a favourite of her co-stars. For now, Asin is all over, promoting her upcoming film ‘Khiladi 786’, that sees her with her ‘Housefull 2’ co-star Akshay Kumar, yet again. She talks about ‘Khiladi 786’, working with Akshay Kumar and her choice of films.

While ‘Khiladi 786’ is essentially about the Khiladi – Akshay Kumar. Tell us about your role in the film.
For that you’ll have to watch the film. Essentially, I’m the Miss Khiladi in the movie which was fun doing, as in I’m the latest Khiladi heroine, after my predecessors. Also, in this film, I play a Maharashtrian girl for the first time, the name of my character is Indu Tendulkar. So, this is the first time that I was learning Marathi, and knowing about their culture and everything. That was fun. She’s not a delicate darling kind of a character. She’s quite rough, quite confident. And unlike mine and Akshay’s last film ‘Housefull 2’, we get to share a lot of screen space in this movie since we’re the only lead pair in the film.

This is your second film with Akshay. You seem to have a great rapport with him…
Yes, I think we have this very comfortable rapport, and for that, all the credit goes to him. He’s such a big star, but he’s never made me feel like he’s a big star. He doesn’t come with any baggage or ego problems. He’s one of my most favourite co-stars. And the fact that we’ve done back-to-back films this year – ‘Housefull 2’ and ‘Khiladi 786’ – is a proof to the wonderful working experience we have. Even while shooting, he’d always crack jokes and make us laugh. And no! No pranks so far. (Laughs)

Since your debut film, you’ve always worked with all these great actors – be it Aamir or Salman, Ajay or Akshay. How has it been?
I feel blessed that I’ve had these kind of films coming my way and the superstars of the industry are working with me. I feel lucky. Having said that, that’s not the only criteria for me choosing a film. First, I actually see the script, director and producer when I sign any film.

Most of your films have made place in the ‘so-called’ 100-crore club. Does that build pressure for you?
I’m just glad that most of my films have been successful, thanks to God, and everyone’s well wishes. But I don’t really believe in this 100-crore club or take any of these tags seriously. My focus is just on the character that I’m playing, and I think we have the producers and the rest of the people thinking about all that. It’s their headache. As an artist, my job is to focus on the role given to me. Also, you know, I obviously don’t come with a guaranty that my films will do well. There’s no formula as such. I just like to enjoy working with a good team and great people, and that’s my factor of choosing a film. Moreover, I usually do films that are fun, emotional stories that could appeal to a large audience, and that’s probably why my films have worked well.

While it’s the era of ‘women-oriented’ roles, you’ve mostly done hero-centric films. Didn’t you fear being typecast? What kind of roles are you looking to do in the future?
You know it would be nice to do a women-centric film and role. It would be really nice if I get such a role. But for me, it doesn’t matter if the film is a multi-starrer or hero-oriented. I would like to do any character that is very well-written and fleshed-out. At the end of the day, I strive for artistic satisfaction, creative satisfaction. People ask me as to why do I keep doing multi-starrers, but I’ve only done two multi-starrers. And honestly, I’m very proud of both these films because they did well, and more importantly, I’ve developed such a wonderful rapport with so many great actors and people, because of these films.

Are you happy with your little journey from south films to Hindi films?
I couldn’t have asked for more. I’m extremely satisfied with the roles that have come my way. And I’m glad that those films have also proved beneficial for people who’ve worked with me. It’s not a very easy transition from south to Hindi films, because the audience is completely different for both. Plus I think, I’ve just started out. It’s not like I’ve done a lifetime of work in Hindi films. So, hopefully things shall get better, and I will just learn to strike a balance between various roles and genres.

Are you still open to doing films down the south, or it’s just Hindi films for you at the moment?
I shall work for south films too; it’s just that I’m waiting for exciting projects. I’m still very new to Hindi films, so at the moment, obviously, my priority and focus is here. I think that’s a very natural progression. But it’s not like I’m completely ignoring the south. If I get an interesting script, I shall do it.

Any other projects that you’ve signed post ‘Khiladi 786’?
There’s nothing that I can reveal at the moment (smiles).  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dia Mirza

“Producing is a far more difficult job than acting”

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This interview was published in the Diwali issue - November 10 issue of Super Cinema) 

First two pictures, courtesy : Jatin Kampani 

She’s one of the most beautiful women that we have in the industry. Dia Mirza has been around for quite some time now, and has had her share of ups and downs. But here’s one woman who has no regrets. You come across very few people who are content with what they have, Dia is one of them. She believes in being happy and being at peace, for all that God has bestowed on her. Dia turned producer with ‘Love Breakups Zindagi’ and recently she did her first Bengali film – ‘Panch Adhyay’. All this just goes on to say that she keeps re-inventing herself time and again despite being in the industry for several years now. When you speak to some people, you’re amazed at how sweet they can be. And that’s what I thought when I spoke to Dia. Just as we get talking about Diwali among other things, I realise that her name is completely apt for her – Dia. In a brief chat, the gorgeous lady talks about ‘Panch Adhyay’, being a producer, upcoming projects under her banner and her various experiences.

You keep looking prettier by the day, what’s the secret?
(Laughs) Really? I don’t know what it is. I guess it’s just God’s blessing. You know when you have that sense of calm and inner peace…it shows on your face. I was very young when I started out. And at the age of 18, you’re very vulnerable and you have a lot of things to think about. There are so many aspects like your career, and home that you’re constantly worried about. So, it’s tough. But today, I’m at a phase in life where I have a good balance. There is a lot of productive work happening, and there is this distinctive sense of peace. I know where am I heading, I know what I want from life. So, I think, how you feel is how you look.

And your recent Bengali film, ‘Panch Adhyay’ has given you more reasons to be happy…
That film is very special to me. Even when I was doing the film, I knew that this film will be special for me. Working on a film like that has given me a feeling of accomplishment. It’s a very gratifying feeling as an actor. In my case, films give me much more than I give them. My director of ‘Panch Adhyay’, Pratim Gupta is a very dear friend, and I’d always thought he has such a nice mind. So, I really enjoyed working with him.

How different do you think is Hindi cinema from Bengali cinema? In terms of the whole process of making a film.
It’s not different at all. The filming process is exactly the same. The only difference that I feel, is the work culture. But I went on to do ‘Panch Adhyay’ after ‘Love Breakups Zindagi’, for which I was also the producer. So, being a producer, now the work culture doesn’t affect me much, because I understand the amount of pains the producers have to take. I’ve become a lot more patient as an actor with the whole process. So, I could adjust easily to the work culture. And forget Bengali cinema, even in Hindi cinema, the work culture differs according to the various production houses.

This year has been great for our industry. We’ve been seeing many changes, and changes for good. How do you feel about it, being an actor and producer?
I think it’s been a great year indeed! We’ve heard and seen lots of wonderful stories, and the audience has been extremely receptive to these unique stories. But I think, we must give due credit to the production houses and studios who’ve taken a keen interest even in niche films, and invested their money in it. See, even if a niche film releases 150 prints, it’s not going to get that kind of visibility. So it’s commendable that studios have backed films and are releasing it at a higher scale. Even if a moderate-budget film, which is slightly niche, gets a 750 prints release, it’s good enough. So, it’s been a good year, because few directors and actors got the kind of due that they deserve. Like for instance, an actor like Nawaazuddin, he’s been around for so many years but he’s got his due only now. That is unfortunate for such brilliant actors. We’ve got a large pool of scriptwriters and directors. We belong to a generation of film enthusiasts who generally want to move away from the ‘run-of-the-mill’ stuff and do quality work. So, it’s a great time for such writers and directors.

In the span of your career, you might have had quite a few learning experiences, lots of memories. How has it been for you?
I’ve had a great learning curve. I’ve evolved, not just as an actor but even as a human being. It’s wonderful to be able to be in a place that you love. From being this kid from Hyderabad who had no affiliation towards cinema, to actually being here and falling in love with films and now fulfilling my duties towards something that has given me so much, is a wonderful feeling. How many people can actually boast of doing something that they love, and doing something for an industry that has given them so much? So, yes, it’s been really great.

What’s happening on the production front?
We’ve spent the last year developing four scripts, with really amazing people. Two of these scripts, we shall start the pre-production by early next year. So, it’s a very exciting time for us. According to me, the highest point of making a film, is the process of writing. To sit with the writers and think of ideas, develop characters and then see the film and the characters come alive on-screen. It’s a very gratifying process to see a film through its journey from start to finish. This whole year has been a like prep year for us, and hopefully, we shall see things falling into place the next year.

Acting or producing, what is more creatively satisfying?
See, what I feel as an actor is very personal. I’m just connected to the script, my character and my director. But being a producer, you’re connected to each and every person involved with the film. All the time, you’re just trying to bring everything and everyone together. You’re just trying to put everything to place. Producing is a far more difficult job than acting. Any day! Production is a lot of hard work. As a producer, you have so many roles to play, and you really have to balance those roles.

Does it affect you when your films don’t do well?
You know, I’m a big believer of sincerity and genuineness. I think if a film is made with utmost sincerity, it will earn respect eventually. Even if people don’t visit the theatres and see it and it turns out to be a box office flop, if it’s a good film, people will appreciate it and respect you when they see it on a DVD or TV. Everything eventually triggers down to that. Plus see, you’re making a film and you’re only putting it there, for people to judge you. So, people will judge you. If you think someone is giving you some constructive criticism, you take that, learn from it, and move on. But if someone’s being very insensitive, you can’t take it all to heart. You need to just accept things and move on. At the end of the day, what matters is what you take from a film.

Have you signed any other acting assignments?
There are talks at the moment. I might only be able to announce something next year.

What would be your Diwali message?
Since it’s Diwali and my name is Dia, I would share a story as to how the dia came into existence. When the earth was shrouded with darkness, the dia came forward and said, that I may be able to offer a very small glow, but that also would help to bring some light. So, I think people should acknowledge even the little glow they have in their life, and I wish everyone a wonderful Diwali. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sarah Jane Dias

“Game will always remain a film that I’ll be the most proud of” 

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This interview was published in the Diwali issue - November 10 issue of Super Cinema)

Former beauty queen, model, and now an actress. While Sarah Jane Dias’ debut film ‘Game’, opposite Abhishek Bachchan wasn’t as successful as it could have been, the debutante was still noticed. Though, Sarah admits that she couldn’t have asked for a better debut. She’s young, and quite new to Hindi films, so she’s just giving in completely to the good offers coming her way. And hopefully, you can expect this lady to make it big here. After all, she has everything going for her – great looks, great body, and zest to perform well. When I spoke to Sarah, she told me that she’s currently shooting for Atul Agnihotri’s film. And that’s about it. She is tight-lipped, and doesn’t divulge anything else about this project. Now, that has got us curious. But she did speak to us about a lot of other things including her last outing, ‘Kyaa Super Kool Hai Hum’, that proved successful at the box office.

Your role in ‘Game’ was a full-fledged heroine-role. Didn’t you have any apprehensions before doing the film.
I’ve always said this, and I shall maintain that ‘Game’ will always remain a film, that I’m be most proud of. To be making my debut with a production house like Excel Enterainment is a big thing for me since I’ve always been a fan of the movies made under their banner, right from ‘Dil Chahta Hai’. So, even when I went for auditions, I was just praying from inside to get the role. And when we were all sitting together for our first reading session, I was like where am I and how did I land here? Because sitting besides people like Abhishek Bachchan, Boman Irani, Shahana Goswami, and everyone. I mean ‘Game’ was my dream debut, since I got to work with such a team.

‘Game’ was essentially a good film. Wonder why it didn’t work at the box office. Do you think it could have been backed by a strong promotional strategy?
Yes, you know people who’ve not gone to the theatre to see the film, and who’ve seen it later at home on DVD or on TV, have all told me that they loved the film and wonder why it didn’t work. So, I never really understood why it didn’t work. And I agree that promotions and marketing form a very important part of any film, but I’m still very new to the industry and don’t have much knowledge still about this whole marketing process, and how important it is to a film. Though, when I compare the promotional activities of ‘Game’ and ‘Kyaa Super Kool Hai Hum’, there was a huge difference.

The response to ‘Kyaa Super Kool Hai Hum’, must have made you really happy...
You know, comedy is not an easy genre to attempt, specially, if I may use the word, ‘shameless’ comedy that ‘Kyaa Super Kool Hai Hum’ had, was not easy at all. So, I was thrilled when the film did well, and when people came and told me that I did a fantastic job in the film. It’s a very re-assuring feeling. And earlier I thought, the film would be very challenging for me, but our director Sachin Yardi told me to not think much, or take myself too seriously. He asked us to just do a particular scene spontaneously. Though, in real life, I’m quite fun-loving, and sometimes get talk shamelessly with my friends, so I could get into my character well.

What are you working on, at the moment?
At the moment, I’m shooting for Atul Agnihotri’s film, and I’m so excited about it. Atul Agnihotri is a wonderful producer, and I was offered the film just a week or two after ‘Kyaa Super Kool Hai Hum’, but that’s all I can say about the film. Atul has strictly told me, ‘I know you are all excited about the film and want to tell everybody about it, but please don’t say anything at the moment.’

Any dream role that you have?
I would have wanted to do Priyanka Chopra’s role in ‘Fashion’. That’s a role, I would die for. I’m not saying I could do the role as good as Priyanka or better than her, but just the whole character and film is something I really love, and wish I could do.

Which are the filmmakers you really wish to do a film with?
Karan Johar, Farhan Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap....oh the list is really long! Most of the directors that we have today.

Any other projects that you’ve signed at the moment?
I can’t say anything right now. Just in talks with few people, for few very interesting films. Hopefully, by next month, things shall get finalised. But all I would say is that I feel I’m really blessed and fortunate enough for the kind of offers coming my way.

We’ve heard you sing as well, in your free time...
I sing and even write songs in my free time. I also love cooking and travelling, when I’m not working.

The secret to your perfect ten body?
Eat well, and work out more.

Do you celebrate Diwali?
I’m a catholic, however, I love celebrating festivals like ‘Diwali’ and ‘Eid’ because they give a great sense of happiness. I usually go to a friend’s house and we light diyas, play cards and eat lots of sweets. Though, for me, Diwali is like a prelude to Christmas.