‘Abhay taught me how to smoke’

She once attended Mumbai parties hoping to get a Bollywood break. Now,Mahie Gill is the toast of tinsel town

Written by Harneet Singh | Published: March 8, 2009 5:01 pm

She once attended Mumbai parties hoping to get a Bollywood break. Now,Mahie Gill is the toast of tinsel town

So,how has life changed after Dev.D?
My phone hasn’t stopped ringing. I’m still getting congratulatory messages and calls. It’s yet to sink in that my work is out there before the world. Suddenly,everybody wants to meet me; there are press calls and meetings with producers. I’m constantly on the move and I’m loving it.

How has the industry reacted to your Paro act?
Everyone has been very positive and encouraging. I will never forget that Vishal Bharadwaj called me after seeing Dev.D and said he loved my work. Rahul Bose too called and congratulated me. Anurag (Kashyap) tells me that Naseeruddin Shah really appreciated my performance and told him to convey it to me. It feels nice when your hard work and patience pays off.

How long did you struggle in Mumbai?
I came to Mumbai in 2005 and since then,it’s been hardcore struggle. I went through a million auditions,got my photos clicked,dropped them off at offices and then waited. I attended a lot of parties because I was told that,in Mumbai,parties are the best places where filmmakers can spot you.

But how did you get invited to all these parties?
I knew a couple of people in Mumbai’s party circuit and I’d just go with them. It was at a party only that Anurag spotted me. Just that it was a birthday party of a child,Dibyendu Bhattacharya’s (he was Chunni in Dev. D) son Shaurya. Anurag saw me dancing at the party and offered me the role on the spot.

Critics have compared you to Tabu and Suchitra Sen. Comment.
I don’t know how to react to such exalted praise. Tabu is a wonderful actor and Suchitraji is beautiful. A lot of people have told me I look Bengali. In fact,when Anurag met me,he remarked on my resemblance to Suchitra Sen. But when we started working together,he said I reminded him of Tabu. I’m fortunate to have met Tabu and though we don’t think we resemble each other,she was very supportive of me. Just being mentioned in the same bracket as Tabu and Suchitra Sen is an achievement.

What were you thinking during the ‘mattress in the fields’ scene?
I loved the idea of a girl taking a mattress to the field with the intention of making out with her boyfriend. It’s a first for the Indian screen. It’s for the first time that a woman’s sexuality has unfolded like this. Normally,when we show heroines enticing the hero,it’s almost always in a song. This was not seduction,this scene showed the sexual liberation of a girl. The response to the scene has been phenomenal. I was apprehensive about how my hometown,Chandigarh,would react. I was prepared for gaalis but we got a standing ovation. Even in towns like Ludhiana,women clapped and whistled at the scene.

Is it true Anurag let you do the Emosional Atyachar dance all by yourself?
Yes,he wanted me to do the same dance that I did at the birthday party where he saw me. Though I’ve trained in kathak,I’m not a good Bollywood dancer. But in this case,it was like ek baar chaabi de kar chhod do. I had lots of fun dancing to that song.

And now in Gulaal,Anurag has made you do mujras?
(Laughs) Yes,that’s my job in Gulaal. It’s an important special appearance. My character is a girl who comes to Mumbai to be a film actor and when she’s unable to break in,she opens a beauty parlour and becomes a mistress to a royal heir played by Kay Kay Menon.

Since your co-star Kalki Koechlin and Anurag are romantically involved,were you apprehensive that she would get more footage than you?
Not at all. Anurag and Kalki’s relationship began after the shooting got over. On the sets,they were very professional. I knew my role beforehand and Anurag has been absolutely fair to me. And even if their relationship had started during the shoot,Anurag is not the kind to play with his script.

What are the other films you’ve signed after Dev.D?
I’m acting in two UTV productions-Aage Se Right with Shreyas Talpade and Pan Singh Tomar opposite Irrfan Khan,which is being directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia. Pan Singh Tomar is a biopic about a soldier who also won an Asian Games gold medal in a track-and-field event and who faced social injustice from his village and eventually took to guns.

Is it true your Dev. D costar,Abhay Deol,didn’t interact much with you during the shoot?
Not at all. It’s a misconception that Abhay keeps to himself. He talks a lot. He even helps his co-stars a lot. In fact,a lot of my performance depended on our comfort. Abhay really helped me and even taught me how to smoke for a scene. I’ve got good feedback about our chemistry and Abhay has told me that we should do another film together.

Which woman actor’s career would you like to replicate?
Three of them: Rekha,Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit. All of them struck the perfect balance of films with artistic expression as well as masala values. They stood their own with heroes. I want to be able to do that. u

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