Tigmanshu Dhulia says he cast you for of your royal lineage. What was his brief to you?
Tigmanshu told me that he believes in casting actors who fit the role. He says that correct casting means that he won’t have to teach me basics, like how to walk or talk like the character. We can then just concentrate on the performance. My character is a young girl from an aristocratic family who has been educated abroad. So, I guess it just worked out. I was really excited to have a chance to work in this film because I loved the first part and also because I was really keen on working with Tigmanshu. I love thrillers as a genre and this gave me an opportunity to explore it further.
You are one of the new cast members in the franchise. How easy was it for you to blend in?
It wasn’t difficult. I am a very easy-going person and I adjust really quickly. This was a great cast and crew to work with. I have worked with both Irrfan (Khan) and Mahie (Gill) before. Jimmy (Shergill) is a really simple and easy guy to know. Also, we shot in Wadia, Gujarat, which is two hours away from the nearest civilisation. So, there was nothing else to do but get to know the rest of the cast (laughs).
There is so much made out about your so-called intimate scenes. How do you react?
I am resigned to such talk. The first film was pretty explosive. One of the first things I asked Tigmanshu was how explosive would this one be? I wanted to know if I’d be comfortable doing them. The ‘intimate-scenes’ in this film are very impactful. They are sexy without being in your face. It’s not extra bold for the sake of being bold.
Mahie told t2 that she brushes or pops a gum before shooting her intimate scenes...
(Laughs) Well, these are uncomfortable scenes to shoot, so it is nice to be minty fresh when you shoot them. Obviously I am not going to go in all sweaty from the gym or eat a lot of onion or garlic and not brush! It’s just not fair to the other actor.
There was talk of big brother Saif Ali Khan being upset about some scenes in the film.
I knew it wasn’t true. He is my elder brother. And no brother would like to see his sister do these scenes but Saif doesn’t interfere. He is a professional who is in the same business as me. He understands the demands of this job. Also, we are grown-up adults who don’t need to take permission from each other. Saif hasn’t seen the rushes of the film.
Do you consult Saif or mum Sharmila Tagore before signing a film?
Not really. I am headstrong and very independent. I have always made my own choices and mistakes. I would be stupid not to ask them for feedback because there is a wealth of knowledge between them. But ultimately, I do what I want to. This is how my parents brought me up and this is why they educated me. I can think for myself.
2013 is an interesting year in terms of films for you. What’s next?
I am happy with the mix. I started the year with Midnight’s Children. I know working with Tigmanshu would be one of the highlights of my career. I have just finished shooting a ridiculous comedy called Joe B Carvalho in Bangalore. I get to play a cop and I had a blast!
You have a lot of action sequences in Joe B Carvalho. Did you enjoy shooting them?
It was so much fun. I took some lessons in martial arts before the schedule even though I didn’t need to for this role. Girls should know how to defend themselves. I know people look at me and see a petite girly girl but I am a tomboy. Everyone on the sets treated me like one of the guys. Now I don’t know if that’s a compliment (laughs). They used to compliment my abs, biceps and triceps to the point that I started feeling conscious. Arshad (Warsi) would back-slap me and I had to remind him that I am a frail girl who only weighs 48kg!
What is like having a new member, Kareena Kapoor, in your family?
She is lovely. I have known Kareena for five years now. I don’t think marriage has made a difference to her and my relationship. Or probably to even Saif and hers. They have been very focused on each other and their careers and that hasn’t changed. We spend quite of a bit of time together having meals, going to Pataudi for breaks or just hanging out. I have a lot of respect for her as an actor and also as a person. She balances her fame and work with her personal life with aplomb.
Has their marriage increased the pressure on Kunal Khemu and you to take the plunge soon?
No. No one should get married under pressure. That’s just terrible. Kunal and I are in a happy and committed relationship and we don’t feel the need to change the status for now. I don’t crave the legitimacy that marriage offers.
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Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns releases on March 8