After the twisted crime saga Andhadhun (2018), your next release is a comedy De De Pyaar De, directed by Akiv Ali.
I have been working on the movie for a while. We were supposed to work on De De Pyaar De along with Golmaal Again (2017). But it got delayed and I worked on Andhadhun. If I enjoy playing a certain role, then I enjoy doing that movie irrespective of its genre. You enjoy different things about different movies. In Haider (2014), I enjoyed playing Ghazala as it was immersive and intense. Of course, it is great to be on a set full of laughter and fun. Sometimes, you enjoy the atmosphere. Sometimes, you enjoy portraying the character. The sources of enjoyment as an actor are going to be different with every movie.
Going by your standard of appearing in a movie every few years, there seems to be an increase in your big-screen appearances. Is it a coincidence?
It’s a coincidence. It’s got to do with the timing of the movies being made. There have been lots of complaints from people that I do only a few films and I don’t think they would say that about me anymore.
The response you have got for playing the character Simi in Andhadhun must have been overwhelming. Does it enthuse you to take up more movies?
Haider was like that, too. Of course, an actor is always enthused to do good work, irrespective of the length of a role. It is extremely gratifying that the film has now gone on to become a major success in China. That is a major bonus for us.
You have portrayed several grey characters — Maqbool’s Nimmi, Ghazala in Haidar, and, now Simi. Do these characters find you?
They find me. In some cases, I fit into these characters. At times, the directors envision my characters in a certain way. It’s not always easy to figure out why a certain character is offered to you.
What do you look for in a mainstream commercial film?
There is a different reason for doing every movie and they occupy different places in my life. I always loved the Golmaal franchise. I used to joke with (director) Rohit Shetty that I would do a one-shot cameo in it. But he offered me an important role. There was no reason to say no — it’s a big franchise and you know that you will be presented beautifully and be taken care of; be part of a big star cast. You enjoy that. In De De Pyaar De, the character of Manju is strong and interesting. That apart, it is a big project with bankable people. There is also Ajay Devgn in it, with whom I have worked in several movies.
Looking back, would you change any of the choices you made?
No. I have started feeling grateful for all the choices I have made. I feel the same about all the projects I have said no to. They have all been part of the journey that I have gone through to reach here. I’m very happy being where I am.
How much has contemporary cinema evolved when it comes to characterisation?
Writing is the most important part of any movie, especially when we talk about content. Of course, it also depends on how an actor presents it on screen. I give a lot of importance to how a movie is written, what the character is saying and what they are trying to convey through their lines. Everything starts with the written word.
What role do directors play in bringing characters alive?
My relationship with my director forms the nucleus of my work experience. Sometimes, you have a great working relationship with your directors. Sometimes, there is a distance between the actor and the director. Every director has a unique way of communicating or relating to the actors. However, if my director asks me to give one more take, even if I believe what I did was fine, I will go ahead with what the director wants. A director’s word is most important to me.
You are not on social media barring Instagram. There, you have been posting clips of your upcoming film. How involved are you with promotions?
When you are part of a film, you are expected to promote it on available platforms. However, I am not sure how much promotions work. So there is a limit to how far I will go to promote my film. I believe the first communication that a movie makes with the audience is through the trailer. That’s what helps people form an opinion about whether they want to watch a movie.
After nearly three decades in the industry, do you still get Friday jitters?
Not jitters. There is some kind of flux as you wish to know where you stand after Friday. You want to fast forward to Tuesday, by which time the result is there for people to see. There is no denying that everyone wishes to be part of a successful movie. One hopes that Friday will bring good news for them. You wish to know if your efforts paid off, and, most importantly, if your work is appreciated. However, the sense of self-worth doesn’t come from the success or failure of a release. It’s great if a film does great business. You feel validated that you have added a few crores to its earning. But I am not a producer, and, finally, as an actor, I have to come back to the drawing board and work on my next movie. A new movie is a new journey.
Does someone as accomplished as you suffer from self-doubt?
Rarely. One does question certain things that one wants to do and consider every situation before taking a decision. Yet, at the core of it, I’ve some kind of faith in myself.
In July, you will start shooting for a Telugu movie with Allu Arjun.
I have acted in several Telugu movies in the past. For a while, I have been wanting to do a nice, fun Telugu movie. I am very excited about going back to Hyderabad, shooting there for a month and visiting home. I have a fantastic role in it. I will be working with a good director (Trivikram Srinivas) and it’s a production house I’m familiar with. Most importantly, every day, after pack-up, I will get to spend time with my friends. There can’t be a better way of combining work with joy.
This article appeared in print with the headline ‘A new movie is a new journey’: Tabu