Has it been a big turf change from the Oscar feted Life of Pi to Jai Ho?
Some films you do for recreation. In fact, when I was deliberating whether to do the film Sohail (Khan, director) told me, “Acting doosri filmon mein kar lena… iss film mein enjoy karo.” That’s exactly what and why I did Jai Ho — to enjoy myself.
What is your current mindspace?
Currently I’m in a good space. There’s been a huge shift in my equation with my career. I’ve developed an easy relationship with my work, which has empowered me more to take decisions. Things which had a lot of significance earlier, trivial things, have gone away. There have been so many realisations.
Realisations like what?
For instance, I’ve realised that the perception that people have of me is very different to what I actually am. For instance, I’ve noticed that people who meet me think I’ll wax eloquent about international cinema and make digs at commercial cinema. These people go back quite surprised because I don’t do that.
So you like to keep people guessing?
(Laughs) No, I don’t know but I assessed this bit about me a few days ago. People are so sure that I’m like who they think I’m because of the films I’ve done. They identify me so strongly with the roles I’ve played that they think I’m the role. In the eyes of the audience, an actor becomes the film but that’s not the case since a film is more the director’s voice. The actor can only own his/her process. Like Vishal (Bhardwaj) keeps joking with me, “tumhari yeh jo image ban gayi hai na..” I think my image is so strong that people don’t expect me to say what I do sometimes.
It can be a tightrope when image becomes identity. But would you say you are comfortable being an actor?
Yes I’ll say so. I admit that initially I had some conflict with thinking about my identity — being it, wearing it or even denying it, but in the past few years I’ve tried to get a grip on it. I’ve learnt how to even stop fighting who I am. The thing is that we are so obsessed with labels and tags — a politician should behave like this, a doctor should behave in a particular way — that they add additional baggage. I used to think that maybe since I’m an actress, there is a particular way I should behave but there is no rule book. I think it’s also the film industry — the obsession with actors is so huge in our country that it has a life of its own. But I’ve realised that I don’t need to mix it, so I do what I do and I let people perceive me as they want to. I guess continued…