The actress speaks about her 'Talaash' experience, her awe-factor for Aamir, her disappointment over 'Aiyyaa' debacle and her best memories of late Yash Chopra. Read on...
Rani, you've been pretty selective off late with your choice of films, what was it about 'Talaash' that made you say Yes?
The criteria for me while choosing a film has always been the story, the script and then whether my role in that script is challenging enough. It was the same in Talaash's case as well. Besides I've never been a part of a suspense film and it's a first for me so that was really exciting.
You play Aamir's wife in the film…tell us more about your character?
I am not allowed to divulge any details about my character or my role. Everybody has warned me against talking too much because it's a suspense drama. So it's best that you watch the film and discover for yourself.
You worked with Aamir in one of your initial films Ghulam, then did Mangal Pandey- The Rising and now you are working with him yet again in Talaash. Over the years how do you think he has evolved as an actor?
When I did Ghulam I was a newcomer. I always looked up to Aamir. I had seen him in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (QSQT) when I was in school and I had a huge crush on him. When I was working with him in Ghulam, I couldn't believe I am working with THE Aamir Khan. So I always had that respect and that awe factor for him. Over the years we've developed this great friendship which is for life. So when I worked with him now in Talaash, I couldn't believe that I am actually working with a friend. Even today irrespective of what my achievements are, I always have that respect for him.
In Talaash, you and Kareena don't really share screen space. But did you get a chance to interact with her anytime while making the film?
We shot for the music video together so we just got that one chance to interact. It would have been really good if Kareena and I had some scenes together (smiles).
Do you think a lot has been made about Reema Kagti being a woman director and bringing in a whole new perspective to filmmaking?
Directors don't have a gender, they are either good or bad and Reema is a very good director. I think the difference comes only when you talk about male writers and female writers but as far as direction is concerned, the director has to always follow his / her instinct and go by the script that has been written.
You've worked with all the top banners in your illustrious career but this is the first time you are working with Excel Entertainment. How's been the experience?
It's been a great experience but like I said for me it's always been the script that is more important. Of course the banner and a good production house does make a difference but I need to be in love with the script and my character. Excel has made some really good films over the years and has even offered me films prior to this but somehow things didn't click. Finally that jinx has broken with Talaash and hopefully there'll be more films with Excel in the future. I've known Farhan and Ritesh since school days as Farhan was my brother's class-mate, so with a lot of love I call him Senior and he calls me Junior. Zoya was also my senior in school so I know all of them since a long time. It's a very different feeling when I worked with them since I know them so well.
The general buzz is that promotions have been very low key for Talaash, what do you have to say about that?
When you have Aamir Khan and Excel co-producing a film, they definitely know what needs to be done in terms of promotion and marketing. So it must be a strategy from their side to be promoting the film the way they are promoting it.
What do you think is the USP of Talaash?
I think it's the story which is very intriguing and of course the fact that its Aamir's next film after the hugely successful 3 Idiots. Whenever there is an Aamir Khan film up for release, audience is always excited to go and watch it.
Coming to your last release Aiyyaa, you had a lot of hopes pinned on that one and even promoted the film to the optimum, yet it failed badly at the B.O. What do you think went wrong?
I can't analyze why a film didn't do well. When an audience watches a film and doesn't like it there is something that has gone wrong in the film- could be the plot, the script, etc- there could be a lot of factors which didn't go down well with the audience. I can't take responsibility for all the factors in a film as film-making is a team-effort. For me, Aiyyaa will always be a film that I was really excited about. I loved the plot of a girl falling in love with the scent of a man. But it's not necessary that what I love, the audience will also love. In this case I obviously failed. I thought it would be entertaining but sadly it wasn't for the audience. At the end of the day audience is the king and what he/she thinks is the ultimate verdict. The saving grace for me however was that they liked my performance and the song and dance sequences for which I put in a lot of hard-work and thankfully it didn't go unnoticed.
Recently Yash Chopra passed away, as someone who knew him closely, what are some of the best memories of him that you will always cherish?
For me Yashji goes beyond being a legendary filmmaker. He is somebody that we all in the industry looked up to as a father figure and he was always there to look after us. He had this lovely smile which he always flashed. He was a great human being and had love and respect for everybody be it a watchman or a driver or a spot boy or a technician or an actor. He touched many people's lives in a very different way. That is a very special quality to have. You seldom come across people like him. I got an opportunity to interact with Yash uncle both on a personal level as well as a professional level. So I got to see 2 sides of him. He is so down to earth in spite of achieving so much. He never wore his success on his sleeve. He was still like the young boy who came from Jalandhar and loved his paranthas with makkhan. He had a great passion for food and cinema. Yash uncle was a man of his words. If he had made a commitment, he would always honour it. He was always there for people both in their moments of happiness or in their moments of sorrow. He believed in goodness and that can only come when you are a good human being.
What did you think of his swansong Jab Tak Hai Jaan?
I loved it. It's too emotional to talk about the film but you can't really review a Yash Chopra film.
You are one of the few actresses who share a close rapport with the 3 Khans. What is the one quality that you admire about Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman Khan?
When it comes to Aamir his one tracked focus is unbelievable and awe-inspiring. Shah Rukh is a born charmer, he was born to charm women with his infectious energy and affection. Salman is a cool dude and totally bindaas. I just love him for that.
Finally, what are your forthcoming films after Talaash? Have you signed anything?
I haven't signed anything because I haven't got anything exciting enough as yet. Achchi Script Ki Talaash Jaari Hai (smiles).
By Nikhil Ramsubramaniam