Guardian Angel

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By Rani Mukerji on connecting with an angel, with children and with Calcutta PRATIM D. GUPTA
  • Published 24.06.08

Do you feel any pressure because your last few films — Baabul, Ta Ra Rum Pum, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Saawariya — haven’t done that well?

My take is that as an actor I try my level best to give my best. I work for my audience. Every time I take up a challenging role it is only because I want appreciation from the masses… Why will I want to do a film otherwise? But at times, the concept of a film that you believed in might not go down well with the audience. Or they might not connect with the film. You can’t do much about that.

But I also feel that even when they reject the films, they appreciate my work at the end of the day. I understand there is a certain kind of expectation from me. Everybody has the right to expect and that’s not a wrong thing. Unfortunately it’s not always in my hands to churn out something which is super successful. I am trying… I am trying to do different films. So they get to see a different me.

But do the flops affect you personally in any way?

Of course, it hurts me. Because you have worked for it. When we start doing a film, we expect it to do wonders. But when it doesn’t, it teaches you. It becomes a learning experience and you analyse what went wrong. Why it didn’t work or why it didn’t grab eyeballs.

One doesn’t get to play a fairy everyday. How was the experience?

The experience was fantastic because it is a first-of-a-kind in Indian films. In fact, I did not have any reference point because whatever fairies we have seen, we have seen them in international films. But this character is very Indianised and so I had to bring my own thing to the table. And I am sure it will be exciting for everyone to see because you haven’t really seen Indian actresses playing fairies on screen. For me personally, it was too much fun because I have always loved fairy tales and fantasy stories. I really enjoyed playing an angel, flying around, cycling over rainbows. Sometimes I would ask them to let me fly even when the camera was off! It felt great to fly.

With so much of visual effects used in the film was it odd doing everything in front of green screens?

During Ta Ra Rum Pum I had done an entire CG (computer graphics) song… which was the title song with the bears. I kind of had an idea what it is to shoot a CG song or a CG scene. So when I did Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic, it was just an extension of that. The good thing was that they always had a reference thing to show me… that it would be like this after post-production. So you were not totally in the dark and had an idea of how it’s all going to turn out.

From Raja Ki Aayegi Baarat to Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, you have cried buckets on celluloid. How did it feel to play a character who just cannot cry?

That was a welcome change for me. The last few films of mine have been a little too serious and mature. So I think it was a good clutter-breaker for me because suddenly I had this film where I am always happy and smiling and laughing. There’s nothing like tears and sorrows for my character. It really charged me up for the role… I was very, very enthusiastic when I started the film.

How would you categorise Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic — is it a children’s film with fairies and all or a romance between a human and an angel?

You know I would call it a family entertainer because parents can take their kids to watch the film and their grandparents and their maids and their siblings and everybody. It’s for all ages. I cannot say this part is for them and that part is for them. It’s like a Mr India, which was loved by one and all. That was another film which had fantasy elements and also had children and it appealed to a larger audience. It was for the kids but everybody loved it. Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic comes under that genre — a fantasy element meeting the real world and they mix on the same platform.

But isn’t it closer to Mary Poppins, what with you coming down from the clouds?

No it is not. I have seen Mary Poppins and Sound of Music a hundred times in my childhood. Mary Poppins comes with an umbrella from the sky. This is not like that. It had a different story altogether. It was about this angel who comes into the lives of these children whose father had a bank issue and there were problems in the family. This isn’t a family at all. The kids are not related to Saif. So it’s different. But because it’s a fairy and we haven’t had fairies in Indian films, we are drawing similarities with Mary Poppins.

Saif and Kunal Kohli must be like family by now…

Things become not only very easy but very comfortable. Because more than anything else we understand each other as professionals. We are also very respectful towards each other’s craft. That makes it a very good work atmosphere because we are all in tune with each other. That really is the best part.

Do you think the three of you have changed in any way since Hum Tum (2004)?

We have all grown in our respective fields. Kunal has matured as a director. Me and Saif have grown as actors. Probably we are much more confident than we were during Hum Tum. We learnt so much in these few years in the middle. Because every film has been a different experience.

You did Ta Ra Rum Pum with two kids and now you have four in Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic. Are kids difficult to work with?

Not at all. Nowadays kids are very talented and very professional. In fact, I think they are better than the adults in many ways. They have no tantrums and are always well-behaved. I love working with children.

You came to Calcutta for the promotion of Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic. How was your trip?

It was fantastic. It’s always lovely being there. And I have got so much of bhalobasha from my audiences there you won’t believe. They absolutely love me there. Even my Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, which didn’t do that well in other cities, did extremely well in Bengal. I don’t know what to say to my fans there. I can only say that I love you all and I thank you so much for all the adulation that you have given me.

You have your extended family here in Calcutta. How excited are they about seeing you as a fairy in the film?

They are really, really excited and they are loving the promos. I think they are all going to go first day first show to see it.

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