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No decorative doll, Simran speaks to Subhash K Jha about looking stunning after two children

Subhash K . Jha

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After  working successfully in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam  films Simran Bagga  is back playing Rajinikanth’s love interest  in his new blockbuster Petta where at 42, she shows us what the Thalaiva’s love interest  should do.

First  of  all, welcome  back. You and I   have known one another  for  a good 15 years, do you remember?

 Of course I  remember. It’s so good to re-connect again. How  are  you?

Firstly I want to know  how you have managed  to  not age by even a day in those  15 years?

(Laughs) Arrey nahin. I am just trying  to eat, sleep and live well.It’s more about feeling good than  looking good. It’s  not easy  after two children. After my second  child I had to lose a  lot of weight.It wasn’t easy. But once you  decide  you need to look after  yourself not too look  good but to  be healthy, it becomes easier.

What was  it like  working with Rajinikant  for the  first time?

He is a such simple humble down-to-earth person. He is my super-hero. To me he came  before the concept  of  the super-heroes  like Ironman and Spiderman was  incepted. I am so glad I could  work with him.

Would  you say Petta  is  your comeback film ?

It is definitely a comeback of sorts. It is my first film with the Thalaiva and  therefore a  big deal for me.And when  people are saying I’ve  a better written  role in Petta than Rajini Sir’s heroines usually have  , I am even happier. Audiences are happy that Simran(she  slips into the thirdperson)is seen with the Thalaiva for the  first time and they look so  good together. I may not have much  footage in the story. But it is rare for an actress my age to  be given such glamorous role.

Yes,  it is very rare  for a heroine in a  Rajinikant film to have anything to do except idolize  him.  It’s even rarer for  a heroine to be  shown a mother to grownup child and still have  life of her  own. Would  you agree with that?

Are  you asking me  if I  agree  it is  difficult  for  an actress  to play the heroine  after  she is a  mother?

No,  I am asking if characters are written  for  heroines  where they have the liberty to have a life of their  own  even after  having children?

Yes, that is rare.And my character  of  a 40-plus and  single  mother  is  not something an Indian actress gets  to play  every day. I wanted my first film with Rajini Sir to be special. In Petta I will give film marks  to the  director(Karthik Subbaraj) for  presenting me  well,in  spite  of  the  limited  footage.The romantic angle  between Rajini Sir  and me has been so well-handled. I’d say the relationship comes across as ageless because  of Rajini Sir’s aura. It doesn’t matter  whether he  is  in his 60s and I am in my 40s. It  is only the  beauty  of  their compatibility that  shines  through.Looking at  the  film as a member  of the  audience I liked seeing this pair.

Audiences wanted to  see more of you in Petta?

Even I wanted  more  of me  in the film. But in a 2 hour 50 minute long film there is  so much to say. I am  glad I got my  space.

Would you say Indian cinema is not a comfortable  place  for actresses above 40 specially those who are married and have children?

 Being a wife or a mother  or   40 should not  be the criteria  for  a heroine to get a role.I am  very proud  to be  a wife and mother—it is an essential part of being a  woman,  as far as I’m concerned—but these  roles  must not define my professional decisions. Of course I’ve major responsibilities  beyond my  profession now. But it becomes easier to balance one’s personal   responsibilities with one’s  profession when you have a supportive family. I feel I’ve the freedom  to do what I want to do, play the roles  I want to play.There’s no burning compulsion to  be in front of  the camera after so  many years  in the profession. If I like  a role I’ll do it. Yes, I may make the wrong career decisions here and there. But I am not afraid to fail. Nor am I  apprehensive about  being a  mother.

You have  been in films of  four languages?

Yes,  I broke into Hindi cinema with Tere Mere Sapne. The song Aankh mare ladka aankh mare become   a big hit.And  look at  destiny.That song is again a  rage  in the film Simmba. I  feel very  happy about this. I began  with Hindi cinema, then I  moved to Malayalam cinema  where I did a role opposite  none other than Mammoothy Sir. Then I did films in Tamil and Telugu. For me , just waiting for Hindi cinema  to happen was not a major craving.  Tamil and Telugu cinema was equally exciting. I  mean I was in school dancing to  Prabhu Deva’s  Muqabla. And then  before I knew it I  was doing a  film with him.I went on to work with stalwarts  like Mani Ratnam and Kamal Haasan  Sir. And  now so many years later I’ve finally worked with Rajini Sir.  So it’s been  a fulfilling journey.

Where do you see yourself today?

You mean in Indian cinema? Everywhere.  The language barriers  have  broken completely. Who sees Baahubali as a Telugu   film? I never waited for Hindi films to happen to my career. If there was  more  of Tamil and Telugu films happening in my  career. I was  happy with  with that. I took breaks   during my  pregnancy and came back. I also did anchoring on television.At this  point in  my  career I’m looking at roles that make an impact and which do not make my audience wonder why I am  there. I  want to do good work with competent  directors with dependable producers. I  never did the two-song-two-dance roles  earlier.Why would I do  it now.

Selective  work then?

Yes, but not necessarily  limited work. I can do  more than one film. My home  is perfectly looked after. I have given my  children a  lot  of time. There is no guilt  about getting back to work.I now live with my husband and children  in Mumbai .

So  you will travel  a lot if you do more  films in the South?

Even earlier I  was Mumbai-based and  travelled  regularly to  Chennai which is my second  home. I used to be in Chennai shooting for 15  days of each  month with my children when  they were small.Now I can travel  without them. They don’t need me around all the time.

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