Vishal Bhardwaj has gone on record to say that if you hadn’t agreed to act in Haider, he wouldn’t have made the film. Comment.
I’m overwhelmed to hear this. I feel that a director sees a film kuch alag hi tareeke se.. he’s so involved in all the little bits that make the film whereas actors only think of their own role. I can never see what Vishal was seeing in me but I’m glad that he offered me this film because I was completely ready for a role like this; it’s a role to die for. Even before I did the film, Vishal’s wife, Rekha Bhardwaj, told me that out of all the roles that Vishal has written, this was his best and favourite.
Vishal’s strength is the uniqueness of his characters and their atypical relationships. As an actor, how do you approach the characters that he writes?
Vishal makes the process very enjoyable. He talks about the character and then gives me the liberty to interpret it, as I want. I like to believe that we are in sync. Our connection is strong and I’m able to appreciate the conflict of his characters. For an actor in order to portray Vishal’s character is a ride on its own.
Maqbool’s Nimmi was quite memorable, how is Haider’s Ghazala different from her?
Ghazala is more about the circumstances whereas Nimmi had a personality issue. Ghazala is torn between her idealistic husband, opportunistic brother-in-law and her innocent and passionate son. Somewhere she feels she has the responsibility to keep everything in control but obviously she can’t. Her love for her son is crazy. She is always trying to protect him from being misled and misguided.
Vishal said that the reason he wanted to make Hamlet was because “it had a thread of sexual conflict” between mother and son. Is it true that he wanted you and Shahid to look like lovers and not as mother- son?
Yes, that’s true. He cast me as Shahid’s mother because he wanted the oddity of the relationship to come out which wouldn’t have come across with a regular aged mother and son combination. Haider shares a love/hate relationship with Ghazala but it’s a very passionate emotion. You almost feel odd that these two are mom and son. Haider’s predicament is that he doesn’t know what to do with his mother—whether to love her, hate her, believe her or kill her.
Tell us about the film that you’ve just wrapped up with Manoj Bajpayee.
It’s a three character psychological thriller. We are still searching for a title. I have a fear we might release it as “The Psychological thriller” which is what we have been calling it since day one. It was a ball working with Manoj Bajpayee and Annu Kapoor in Mauritius. This year, three very important relationships in my life came full circle—with Salman Khan (in Jai Ho), Manoj and Vishal. All three have special place in my life. I wanted to reconnect with them and I did so in one year.
Right now women driven films are making a lot of noise. You’ve walked this path from the beginning of your career. How do you see this trend?
It’s nice to see so many shades to actors. I feel for women, it’s always great when we get a chance to portray different emotions or shades and not just look good.
It’s not that women centric films pehle bani nahin, it’s just that now these films are more visible because the talk around them is more. Now women characters have more shades because in our society women have more shades. I’m not comfortable with labeling a film as “woman centric.” All these terms for me are alien because we use them loosely but these terms catch on and everyone uses it. We are more caught up with labeling than experiencing it. That’s my problem with words vis a vis experience because words can be made up. We get very impressed with our ability to label things like “intense”, “tough”, “breaking the ceiling”, “off the cuff”. Like for me, the media loves to use the word “reclusive.” Half the time we don’t know what it even means but we use it. All these words are immaterial. It’s just a film and any film that is good, enjoyable and engaging should be made.
Is there any dream role that you really want to do?
It would be nice to do a full-on action film.