You celebrated 20 years of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) recently. How much has your life changed between that and Dilwale?
A lot of things have changed after that. I got married after DDLJ and have two kids. However, I hope and believe that my passion for work is the same. In fact, my passion for good work has increased today. At the same time, I have this lovely balance between my personal and professional life; something I did not have before. Around the time I shot DDLJ, I was working continuously. Today, I know I can do a film, take a break and come back some time later. I can have a fuller life.
What are the factors that have helped you in finding this balance?
I am wonderfully supported by everybody around me — my husband, mother-in-law, father-in-law, mother, sister and friends. They have stood up and said: ‘Okay baby, go ahead. Do what you wish to do. We will take care of things’. I have the determination and will to strike a balance but I have had the support that enabled me to do it.
You come across as very secure about yourself. Does it come from being a starkid?
My mother enabled me to separate my professional life from home. Once home, she would just be my mother, not Tanuja the actress. In her jeans and shirt, she would take me to the fish market every two months. We would do very normal things together and she was very insistent that we do that as a family. Somewhere down the line, it has given me a very different perspective of the film industry.
How often do you take your kids out to public places?
Like my mother, I don’t let my stardom stop me from doing what I need to do. I do take my kids to Santacruz market and don’t make a big deal out of it. But I will never take them to overcrowded places. Mumbaikars are fantastic. They have seen so many actors all over the place that they let you be. People have even come forward to protect me.
You are known to be a spontaneous actor. What have been your inner struggles?
My fight as an actor has been against myself. I looks at pieces and parts of my films and I believe I could have done them differently. There is no perfect shot in my head. I have tried hard but not managed that perfect shot. I hope my honesty and sincerity come across. My struggle as an actor has been to make sure that my character as a whole comes across.
What makes you pick up that one project at the risk of staying away from your kids?
To take time off from family, husband and kids, you need something that you are passionate about. That’s really important. I loved doing Dilwale; I enjoyed every moment of its shoot in India and abroad. It could also be because I was shooting after a gap. That’s what happens when you work with breaks. The only thing I miss when I work is my kids. I need to come back home and hug them, kiss them and squash them. It is very important for my mental balance. I guess every parent feels like that.
Many younger actors look up to you. On Koffee with Karan, Varun Dhawan expressed his admiration for you.
Well, Varun has worked with me in Dilwale. We had a blast together on the sets. Both of us are competitive. If we ever play a game together and we are in the same team, we definitely win. Or, we will scream so much that we will make others lose.
Which young actor would you want to be cast opposite you?
It would depend on who suits the character and the script. I have never felt that I can’t work with someone though the level of work might vary.
It is a very interesting time for Bollywood. Would you like to step out of your comfort zone and take up a very different kind of project?
Dilwale is a very different kind of film and I have never worked with Rohit Shetty before. This is one of the most unpredictable movies I have made. I definitely want to do different kinds of films. It has also got to do with what kind of scripts I am being offered. Yes, comfort level is very important to me – I should be able to talk to the director. I am not going to do just about anything.