How do you look back on your years as an actor , wife and mother?
I am always grateful for what I’ve got. God has been kind to me. My fans have been with me all these years. At this juncture in my life I don’t want to let them down.I’ve to be doubly sure that I don’t do any wrong film. The past year has been very special. I got to do English Vinglish and Mom which turned out to be much bigger than I expected.The impact is such that even my daughter’s friends called up their mothers after seeing the film to say they are sorry for being insensitive children. It has changed lives.
What does the success of English Vinglish mean to you?
I am sure my children will show it to their children and proudly tell them that this is what their mother did. English Vinglish has given me so much respect.I am really thankful to the director Gauri Shinde and her husband R Balki. They blindly believed in me.Now I wonder what I’ll do next.
You can’t do anything run-of-the-mill?
No no. There is no need for me to do anything I don’t think is right. It took me 15 years to do English Vinglish.
Please don’t take another 15 years to do your next film?
No no no(laughs). But I have to be careful. Not 15 years for sure. I’ve been hearing a lot of scripts. But nothing seems just right the way I felt when I was offered English Vinglish.
Which are your other favourite films from the ones you’ve done?
Sadma, Chandni, Chalbaaz, Judaai….Mr India was a turning point.Before that Hindi moviegoers saw me just as a glamour girl. After Mr India they felt I could act. Then there was Lamhe.I miss Mr Yash Chopra.
Did you feel you could have worked with more directors like Yash Chopra and Shekhar Kapoor?I feel you stood in some very bad films?
That’s a very big compliment. No I was very happy with the work and the directors I got to work with. But yes, the search for challenging roles never ends.I’d love to work with Shekhar Kapoor again. He brought best in me in Mr India.I’d also like to work with Ashutosh Gawariker, Farhan Akhtar, Rakesh Mehra, Raj Kumar Santoshi and Gauri Shinde again and again.
What prompted you to finally do another film after 14 years?
The script and the director Gauri Shinde.When I heard the script I fell in love with it.I hope it turns out well.We start shooting at the end of July.
Do you need to prepare?
We’ve already sat on the clothes,look, etc.We’ve selected the sarees and worked on all other details.
Significantly Gauri Shinde will be your first woman director?
That’s true. I’ve never worked with a woman director before.But when I met her there was so much positive energy between us .She’s a very sweet person.
You’ve given great performances in the maximum number of awful films?
(laughs). I did what I had to do.I don’t know….I feel I’m always a director’s actor.I never think of good or bad. I do my work honestly.I’ve always given my best. I’ve enjoyed my work. Then I enjoyed bringing up my children.Now when I’m getting to work I’ll definitely enjoy it again.
You gave up a beautiful career for marriage,and children?Any pangs about returning to work while your daughters would be on their own?
That’s the beauty of working again! See, I’m going to shoot when they’ve their holidays. They’re going to be with me when I shoot.So there’s nothing to worry about.The role of the mother will always come first.
Did you miss the film industry?
No not at all.Being a producer’s wife when have I ever been away from the industry?Something or the other connected with films,is always happening in our lives. I never felt I was out of it.
Why are you looking so thin these days?
Is that a bad thing?I want to be slim and healthy.Am I looking too thin? Achcha.I didn’t realize it.Let me check.
Maybe in looking after your husband and children you are not eating properly?
No no.My daughters are very health-conscious. I’ve to be after them to eat. Specially my elder daughter, she’s into healthy food.My daughters never touch junk-food.Slowly,I’m succeeding making Boney eat healthily.
Boney recently had a health scare. How did you cope with it?
It really worried me a lot.I didn’t take it lightly.To see him in hospital is not a small thing for me. I had never seen him hospitalized. I was very upset. I wanted him back home as soon as possible. I now insist on making him eat and sleep properly.
Generations of actresses after you look on you as an icon?
I’m so grateful for the kind of love I get.And when I hear something like this, I feel honoured.Because I worked so hard for all these years I feel my efforts have been rewarded. I really feel on top of the world when I hear people say they still love and appreciate me and remember me.
I’ve watched your last film Judaai dozens of times only for your performance?
Which one? Ah Judaai.Yes, that’s when I quit. My God, it’s been a while since I faced the camera.I’m nervous and excited. But more than me it’s my children and my husband who are excited about my comeback
Do your daughters watch your films?
Of course they do! But it’s not as if I’ve told them to watch them. They’ve seen my films on television and on dvds. When one of my films is on my younger daughter keeps looking at the screen and at me repeatedly.She can’t believe that’s her mother on screen.
You’ve been acting since the age of 4.Did you at any point get tired of the whole process of facing the camera?
You know, I always believed whatever you do you must do sincerely and you must enjoy. When I was working I thoroughly enjoyed myself.When I gave up working to become a mother of my two children I gave myself completely to looking after my children.I can’t describe to you the happiness and satisfaction I felt in being a mother. I recommend motherhood to every girl.As I look ahead to my daughters’ future I feel such a sense of excitement.Every moment with them is enriching.I take them for shopping,we girls have loads of fun.
The elder one is quite a young woman now?
Jahanvi is my best-friend.She is very clued into aesthetics. She understands colours and fabrics. I think she has a very good dress-sense.She lets me know what suits me and what doesn’t.She doesn’t hesitate in saying, ‘Mama, don’t wear this. It doesn’t suit you.’ Every Saturday we go shopping together.
Do you see your daughters becoming actresses ?
Look, I don’t want to impose my career suggestions on them. It’s too early to decide on a career for them.Touchwood,they’re good at their studies.They can choose whatever career they want .I don’t want to force them into anything.
You had to struggle really hard as an actress. Would you want to protect your daughters from such a hard life?
Why only acting? In every profession they’d have to struggle equally hard.No matter which profession you are in, you’ve to slog.Nothing comes easy.
Will you be doing more films now?
Let’s see how it goes.I want to be totally comfortable while doing my first film. That’s why I’m doing it when my daughters can be with me.That’s how we planned this film.But after this my daughters may not be there with me when I do other films. I’ve never really planned anything.Everything just happened .