'I want to try my hand at comedy,' Mahima Chaudhary
The location: A bungalow in Versova! The Time: Late night. The shot: A song sequence. The Artiste: Mahima Chaudhary. "Just two minutes," Mahima says as she spots you. She has just finished her shot. There is actress Mink who has come to see her. She has signed Mahima to...
...play the lead in a film that marks her debut as a producer. But before she gets on with her producers, we corner Mahima for quick Q and A:
Let us start with Film Star that is going to your next release….
Well, I play a film actress in the film. Hira Pandit, my character, is very spoilt. Very selfish! She can't take rejection. She is fine with the idea of people stepping over each other's toes to achieve their ambitions and get what they want. She is so fake! Never has been into any relationship. Even her best friend Digs misunderstands her. She starts with a very selfish trip but ends of being more than a film star. Here we take a film star as an example, but it could be anybody in any profession. Today if I'm not the CEO of this company then who am I? Their identification lies in the job that they do. And that's scary. They don't realize that their careers are not the be all and end all of life. They forget that they have a family. That they have father, mother, sister, brother, wife, children and friends that lend them an identity! But sadly they don't realize that and start taking their professions too seriously.
But does Hira Pandit realize that? Does she go through a transformation?
Yes, she does! As I said she does end up being more then a film star…
Did you take a leaf from any fading actresses of yesteryear or is it your own interpretation of the character?
Hira Pandit has not been inspired by any one person! I would say that she is completely Tanuja Chandra's imagination and interpretation. While shooting I asked Tanuja if she really wanted Hira Pandit to be so high handed and narcissistic. So lonely and craving! Tanuja was sure about the character Hira from day one, so much so that she did not leave any corners for improvisations. Tanuja was very clear-cut about what she wanted.
Have you encountered similar frustrations as an actress?
Everybody in whatever profession they may experiences hardships. Here I would like to state that I'm not like Hira Pandit at all. I do not think that my life starts and ends with films. I do not use my profession as my identification. For instance, I could be anywhere in the world doing anything and still be comfortable with it! I have the maturity. I know that there is life beyond films. I know the difference between reel and real. I have read books of different kinds. I have traveled abroad and within India. I interact with people around me. I'm not naïve in the sense that all these things have kept me grounded. I have understood the fact that is not forever. I have other important things in my life that I value..
There comes a phase in actresses' life when she begins to miss the limelight...
Why wouldn't you? A cricketer who has played cricket all his life; why wouldn't he miss it. A cricketer's life is far short lived than an actor's. An athlete has to retire at 30. Today at least an actress does not retire at 30. She continues to get good roles keeping her image and age in mind. So today, an actress does not think of retiring anymore till of course out of choice. Maybe wants children which is lot more fulfilling for a woman than doing a film. I completely understand the fulfillment Juhi might have got by having a baby than just doing another film because it is her priority. I would miss it in my own way maybe but then there are other options in the film industry. I would get into production etc. Yes, I would miss it but I would not be dying the way Hira Pandit does! What could be addictive about the limelight is the recognition that you gain. Can you imagine the feeling you experience when the whole country looks up to you? When you become a source of inspiration for millions?
How was it working with Tanuja Chandra?
It is difficult to make Tanuja see things from your point of view because as I said she was very sure about what she wanted that she does not leave any room for suggestions and improvisation. She is pretty much there. She does homework a lot more than most directors do. She is particular about the time if she is packing up at 9-the shooting schedule gets wrapped at 9 sharp. It was very disciplined experienced working with her.
Okay tell us about Sarhad Paar...
The film is about a Punjabi family. Sanjay Dutt plays a POW. What happens to the family when he was away! I play Sanju's sister in the film.
Do you think the improving Indo-Pakistan relationship will prove to be a deterrent in the subject of the film?
Sarhad Paar is based on a Punjabi fable the only one of its kind where the girl chooses her brother over her lover. If a showdown between her brother and lover occurs she'd rather have her lover die than her brother. The phrase veeravali comes from this fable. It denotes the strong bond the brother-share. The culture of Raakhi began from here. It's unique. One doesn't here of such solid bonding in other cultures of the world. So mainly it is about this family and I don't think the film would be affected because of the growing Indo-Pak relations.
There's Zameer too, right?
This is one film I'm looking forward too because the role has me as a dancer who is hit by paralysis. But she does not give up hope. It is basically in the mind. The day you weaken mentally that is when you deteriorate physically.
What other films do you have on hand?
Well there's Dobara, Gumnaam, Chess, The Film and Neend. Dobara is about complex relationships. It is just about three days involving three-four characters. I play the role of Jackie Shroff's wife in the film. As a wife you always fear what if my husband's ex-girlfriend steps in his life once again. The film shows what happens when her biggest fear comes true. It is situation they have been in before. The same situation is transpiring again. That's why the title Dobara. Also I have an episode with Pakitani actor Muamaar Rana. Gumnaam is a thriller with Dino Morea as my costar. Chess is with Anupam Kher. The film has an interesting story. The calculative speculations that we do that sometimes work and sometimes don't. For instance I know that Dino will come at 4 for a 2 pm schedule so I adjust my time accordingly and come at 3. The Film involves all new comers and is not our regular hero-heroine kind of film. I play a film writer in the film. Neend is thriller psychological thriller that has Sunny Deol solve the mystery.
There has been a considerable change in the kind of films made today. Some work some don't! What do you feel about this unpredictability?
The film industry has always been unpredictable! It is like the stock market really. How much are you ready to give, how much do you believe in yourself and how keen are you to pursue your career as an actor because you always have the option to quit the game whenever you want. Luck plays an important role too. Look at Mr.Bahchcan he returned after a gap of five years and is the most sought after actor today. But my career's unpredictability doesn't frazzle me at all, seriously. What disturbs me is the unpredictability of life. Just the other day I read about Soundarya and the news shook me up. I have met her. I have never interacted with her. Still I was shocked! It is situations like these that make me ponder about life seriously and not take it for granted.
What kind of roles would you like to do?
The only role that I would NOT like to do is that of a prostitute. Why is there is this mentality that an actress has to play a prostitute's role just to show that she is talented? Any character whether it is a mother-in-law or a daughter-in-law or mother or daughter or lover or sister can make an impact if written well.
It is heard that it you seriously contemplating to take up direction?
Not now! I don't know the craft really well. Also directors have a mammoth task that I don't think I'm prepared for. It is a nice thought but I want to seriously focus on acting more so because there are different kind of films being made so one can really pick and choose. If there are thrillers and actions then there are also love stories and comedies. What's great is that all of them are being made at the same time. But when I think the kind of film I would like to do as an actress; I would seriously love to do a comic role. I want to try my hand at comedy.