What took you so long to make your Marathi film debut?
The right kind of film came my way only now. Bucket List is a content-driven film. My character, Madhura Sane, is a housewife who decides that she needs to take control of her life and in the process rediscovers herself. This is the life of every married woman, and not just in India. Women lose themselves somewhere when they get married. Family, kids, husband, in-laws and parents take priority over everything else. We forget to think about ourselves. Madhura is one such woman.
Have you felt that way too?
Of course. I am a wife and mother, and when my kids were younger and I was looking after them, I forgot about myself. I was not the centre of the universe anymore.
Do you feel you lost out (as an actor) in that time?
I have been clear in my head all my life that I’ll do something if I feel like without fearing the consequences. People ask me why I married when I was at the top? I tell them I did so because I found the right man and the rest didn’t matter, not even my career. I allowed my heart to take me places. Today, there is no dearth of exciting projects but I pick and choose, also based on the time I have at hand. I am currently part of Kalank, a Dharma production that also features Alia Bhatt. Sometimes, when I feel my kids and family need me, I take longer to pick up a new project.
Did you encounter any difficulties once you returned to acting?
I don’t think it made me rusty. In fact, life experiences teach you a lot and I feel I react to scenes differently today compared to when I was younger. I have more depth and perspective now. Now, when I am part of certain situations in a script, I feel them more because I may have experienced something similar.
What’s your own bucket list like?
I wanted to do at least one Marathi movie, turn producer and sing. I have now done all three. My debut as a producer is a small Marathi film that will be out soon, as will my music album. The idea is to keep challenging yourself. Talking of things outside of my career, I always wanted to go surfing ever since I saw the Old Spice ad as a kid, with the surfing dude in it. Recently, I attempted surfing with my children. Both my sons make it seem so easy, but I really struggled to remain on the board for more than a few seconds.
You were at the peak of your career when the film industry was at its worst. How do you view the change today?
I will credit the new generation for this welcome change I am enjoying today. They have changed the industry with fresh ideas and discipline. Today, you get a bound script; you know everything from dialogues to your look well before you begin shooting; the characters are etched out very well; and an actor works on only one film at a time. All these little things help an actor. I worked in a different time… when an actor did three films at the same time. It was a feat that we did not mix up the dialogues and scenes of the many films we worked on simultaneously. But then, given what we had, we managed to make some good films too and I am proud that something good came out of the chaos of that time.
In the months since #MeToo, the current generation of actors are speaking up against the casting couch practice albeit not openly. How tough was it back then for a female actor to speak up?
I wouldn’t know about the casting couch practice because I never heard of or experienced it. But I suppose today it makes a difference that people are willing to listen to a woman speaking; they back her up instead of targetting her. Women were probably more scared then.