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An actor prepares – Day 2092

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So how did you evolve into such a good dancer eventually? “I really don’t know, probably I am still not good because I feel awkward and my directors say that they like me because I’m awkward. I know Priyadarshan signed me for Saza-E-Kalapani because I look older and can pass off as a Mayali. He would wake us up at 3 a.m every morning and pan the first shot at 5.30. Every day, I had to learn long lines in Malayalam. One day, for a difficult scene I did not get it right after 15 takes and everyone was impatient so I burst into tears.”

That’s a difficult situation to handle, isn’t it? Tabu says all talented directors drive their actors crazy and actors feel frustrated when they are unable to deliver their potential”. Are you as you as vulnerable in a personal crisis? Tabu thinks for a while, “No…” she replies “Because there is a lot more at stake in personal life than in your career and therefore, one is always weighing the pros and the cons of an outburst. I am always worried about how my reaction will affect my loved ones and if hurt, I would rather withdraw. It is strange but in moments like these I wish that the conflict resolves on its own but most of the time it doesn’t”.

To be continued

Tabu: The sole survivor – Day 2091

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Tabu is the only heroine of the 90s who is as relevant in 2020 as she was in the early days of her career. While most of her contemporaries (Kajol, Karisma Kapoor, Monisha Koirala, Urmila Matondkar and Shilpa Shetty) have disappeared over a period of time, Tabu continues to make an impact! Every time you watch her on screen, you wonder what makes her so special? Her talent, of course, but also her persona.

There was a time when she was winning all the awards of the season and one expected her to be giddy with attention but Tabu was strangely unaffected, she said, “I don’t take the applause seriously; I treat it like it’s happening to someone else because I have learnt that everything about show business is temporary. My first film Prem took five years to take off and by then the industry had written me off. I was low in confidence and burst into tears when I had to shoot my first dance sequence.No matter how hard I tried, I could not get the steps right and choreographer Saroj Khan yelled at me in front of the entire unit. It was a nightmare”.  

To be continued

Mughal-E-Azam and Raunaq Jassi – Day 2090

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1999: Salesman Ramlal: Ramlal is an ordinary man with extraordinary dreams and Satish Kaushik is the right actor for the right role. He reports for rehearsals 9.30 in the morning and leaves for shooting at 1.30 where he is directing Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hain. Such dedication and focus can only come from a true theatre lover. During rehearsals, Satish is forever scribbles notes. Not surprising his performance is extraordinary.

I will not talk about Mughal-E-Azam and Raunaq & Jassi because operas like these cannot be described they have to be witnessed inside an auditorium.

Concluded

Saalgirah and All the Best – Day 2089

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1994: Saalgirah: Saalgirah evokes immediate identification and a contrived fantasy that the couple will get together. Casting Kiran and Anupam Kher together is a practical decision. They share hotel room and there is no tension in adjusting rehearsal dates. What is attractive about Anupam Kher is that he is keen to return to theatre at a time when he is at the peak of his film career. Many critics view Saalgirah as a sequel to Tumhari Amrita. I disagree, there are similarities but they are not an extension of each other. Amrita evokes nostalgia and the writing is almost poetic while Saalgirah evokes identification.

1997-1998: All the Best / Chaar Din Pyaar Ke / Mahatma v/s Gandhi: I launch two productions directed by outsiders All the Best (Hindi) my most successful play and Chaar Din Pyaar Ke. It’s around this time I see Marathi play Gandhi and I sign Naseeruddin Shah, Kay Kay and Mrinal Kulkarni for the key roles. The rehearsals are in progress but two weeks prior to the show we realize that the play isn’t working. There is no novelty about the script considering all the three (Hindi/Marathi/Gujarati) versions of the play are running to packed houses. We need to do something drastic to save the play, so we take a break and I rewrite the play. It works this time. Our journey all over South Africa is an unforgettable experience of my life.

To be continued

Eva Mumbai and Tumhari Amrita – Day 2088

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1991: Eva Mumbaima: is inspired from the West Side Story which in turn is borrowed from Romeo and Juliet.  Once again, the opening night is a disaster. The audience is unprepared for the high-level energy exuded on the stage, unprepared for so many characters and sets.  I’m thinking of closing down my company when a friend suggests I give it one last shot before I down the shutters. A miracle happens, the auditorium is packed with youngsters and the chemistry is perfect. The show is a success finally and we are traveling all over India.

1992: Tumhari Amrita: A friend gives me the script of the English play Love Letters. I give a copy of it to writer Javed Siddiqui and another to Shabana Azmi. The Hindi adaptation is ready in a month but the last letter evades us. Two nights before the show, actors Farooque Sheikh and Shabana Azmi want to know where is the final letter. “It will come,” I reassure them. It does and the finale is outstanding!  The pauses between every letter reflects the passage of time. It’s my most difficult and emotional play.

 To be continued

Showtime with Feroz Abbas Khan – Day 2087

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Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai is the Mecca of performing arts. The theatre opened up after two long years and Prithvi Café I once again buzzing with regular faces. I spend a quiet evening amidst the lush trees, sipping Irish coffee and listening to director Feroze Abbas Khan reminisce his theatre journey from Royal Hunt to Mughal-E-Azam.

1990: The Royal Hunt of The Sun: My first play. I’m visiting East Africa and somebody presents me a script. It’s my habit to start reading anything presented to me immediately but this time, I don’t understand the content and yet something about it fascinates me, it is about mixing religion with politics. I discuss it with my friend Shafi Inamdar and he warns me it is not a right subject for a debutant. I don’t listen and the opening night is a disaster. I swear that I will never do another play again but I do.

To be continued

Miss Yash Chopra – Day 2086

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And you did Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Yash Chopra’s last film.

Early in my career I was told that I am not Yash Chopra brand of heroine, so I was surprised when I was offered JTHJ. It was instant connection with Yashji; we shared a very talkative relationship. He spoke to me in English, Hindi and sometimes Punjabi and everyone asked me how I understood what he said because he mumbled a lot but I understood everything. I just loved Yashji and miss him sorely.

My two favorite films of yours are Ek Tha Tiger and Fitoor.

All credit for Ek Tha Tiger goes to director Kabir Khan who combined action drama into a refreshing love story. I did some tough action in this film. Fitoor is not mentioned often because we only remember successes but every frame of the film is beautiful.

Do you think of marriage?

Yes, I will settle down when I find my soul mate, right man at the right time will knock my door and my heart will recognize him.

Concluded

Director’s actor- Kaif – Day 2085

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Zoya Akhtar describes you as a director’s actor.

Every actor aspires to interpret their character as per the director’s vision, but it is not always possible to hit on the right note.  Zoya trusts her actors – she let me be and was always there to hold my hand when I needed her. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobbara was easy because I identified with the film though I had to work hard for the underwater scenes.

Kabir Khan’s NewYork established you as an actor.

Yes, it was the first-time critics praised me as a performer. I played a married woman in a complex situation. This was the first time I met Yash Chopra, one of the nicest persons in filmdom.

To be continued

Katrina Kaif- Lucky or hard-working – Day 2084

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Your filmmakers call you professional and your co-stars say you are extremely hard working, are you?

I think I am and I’m happy they notice and appreciate my sincerity. My producers say I’m lucky because my average of box-office hits is high. There are no short cuts to success and the only way to do it is to give your best.

Critics say you do the same type of roles?

I have never fathomed why they say that, is it because I only do mainstream cinema but there is a difference between Partner and Rajneeti and Ajab Prem Ki Gatha and Phantom I have worked in different genres and with directors of different sensibility. David Dhawan’s Partner was more like a picnic because Salman, Govinda, and David were cracking up all the time and I was the odd one there. I was the odd one in Rajneeti as well and I was surprised that Prakash Jha wanted me in the film.

To be continued

Cinema halls ready for Sooryavanshi – Day 2083

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Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi starring four big stars Akshay Kumar, Ajay Degan, Ranveer Singh and Katrina Kaif scheduled for Diwali release is the most awaited release in a long, long time. The songs have already gone viral and exhibitors are super excited about the audiences returning to the theatres. There is one more reason for excitement, grapevine has it that post the release Katrina Kaif will be getting married to Vicky Kaushal. I am not surprised, in my opinion Katrina has been ready to settle down for a while now. She has been a top runner for a long time now and in my last interactions with her, I found Kaif strong and silent, ready for a new phase in her life. Excerpts:

Promotions of a new film are exhausting; do you look at a new release with relief or anxiety?

All actors go through the exercise and every time the process gets more aggressive. It is because the mediums of communications have multiplied. Technology has its share of disadvantages and I’m not complaining. What’s got to be done has got to be done!

To be continued