Koel-Jeet chemistry

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By TT Bureau
  • Published 17.01.12
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Koel, your costumes in 100 % Love (produced by Shree Venkatesh Films and Jeet’s Grassroot Entertainment, slated to release on January 20) are bolder than usual...

Please scold my stylist (Sandy)! I am constantly tugging at my dress in every shot, trying to stretch it below my knee! Thankfully, people felt that I could carry it off. It’s important to look nice and beautiful. I wouldn’t want to wear very short dresses in my personal life because I am a very conservative dresser. But I do it for films. I am comfortable in the kind of dresses that I wear — off-shoulders, short dresses… I am not comfortable in hot pants or micro-mini skirts.

What do you play in 100 % Love?

I play Anuradha. She is an extremely level-headed girl who comes from an orthodox, joint family. The character has lots of shades.

The promos of 100 % Love look a lot like Paglu, your last release...

Well, that’s a positive point because Paglu was a super-duper hit. Guess it looks similar because the song sequences of both Paglu and 100 % Love were shot in Switzerland. Stanley D’Costa (choreographer) has given us some rocking steps in 100 % Love!

You are still the first choice when it comes to commercial films. What’s the secret of your success?

Hard work. I am committed to my work. I am sincere. I think it’s for the audience that the producers have repeated me over and over again. I have no success formula. The audience are constantly beside me.

You haven’t seen too many lows in your career...

No. God has been kind. I balance life. It’s just not work for me all the time. It’s important to be attached to your family because they keep you rooted. Alongside being a responsible actress, I am also a very responsible daughter, sister and friend. So maybe that positivity reflects on screen.

You’ve only occasionally experimented with ‘different’ films, like Sandip Ray’s Hitlist and now Srijit Mukherji’s film. Are you scared to experiment?

Not at all. My second film was Devipaksha (directed by Raja Sen) after the very commercial Nater Guru (her debut film opposite Jeet). I love to experiment but it has to be something exciting. I don’t like experimenting just for the sake of it. I am choosy. Just the way I choose commercial films, I choose the ‘different’ kind of films as well.

“Yeh Saala dil hai dil hai...” hums Jeet. “Nice song, na?” pipes in Koel. “It’s a mood song,” says Jeet, wistfully. The two are seated on the sidelines of the set, waiting for choreographer Baba Yadav to steer their moves after a brief discussion with director Ravi Kinnagi. The hustle and the bustle is in stark contrast to the quiet outside. It’s midnight at the 2,000-acre Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, but Jeet and Koel are as peppy as can be. They are shooting a song sequence, a last-minute addition to the almost complete 100 % Love. t2 chatted with them in between the several breaks on the floors.

Is there a role you would love to play sometime?

There are so many roles that I would love to do because as an artiste I am very hungry.... A psychotic or an autistic person or a schizophrenic, or films based on different kinds of relationships, like Satyajit Ray’s Charulata... like that odd relationship, unspoken love.

How would you rate yourself as an actress on a scale of 10?

(Thinks hard) Maybe a six.

Why?

Because I am yet to learn a lot of things.

Do you like yourself on screen?

(Laughs) You want me to be honest?

Of course!

I remember when I watched Nater Guru, the only thing that came to my mind was how will people tolerate me when I can’t tolerate myself (laughs)?! I wanted to say bye-bye to everybody! After watching the film, I felt I was pathetic. And I was like, ‘Oh God somebody just kill me, I’m giving you a knife!’ But somehow things started rolling. I don’t know how I got another offer!

And in your recent films?

I am never satisfied when I see myself on screen.

Jeet and Dev apart, you don’t work much with the other heroes. Why?

Please go and ask the producers and directors because they are the ones who choose my co-actors. I have worked with all the actors here. I am working with Soham too. I have worked with Abir (Prem By Chance) and now I’m working with Parambrata (Chattopadhyay in Srijit’s untitled film).

Who is more fun to work with — Jeet or Dev?

They are very different people except for the fact that they are both very sincere and hard-working. I have worked with Jeet in many films. It’s interesting to see him evolve as a person, and with Dev too I have done quite a few films and as we have earlier said, we are like Tom and Jerry! Interestingly, people loved me being paired with both. When they go to see our film, they should not feel that two strangers came, romanced in front of the camera and left. They should feel that these two people are together, they are a strong couple. People like the JeeKo chemistry, a term introduced by t2 first!

Are you single?

Absolutely. I am committed to my work!

Jeet, are you wearing a cowboy costume for the first time?

Yes. For the first time and I like it so much! It’s interesting with this hat and glasses!

You are also a co-producer of the film. Why did you team up with Shree Venkatesh Films?

I have just started out as a producer. I need to understand production, I don’t know anything about it. It’s a new avenue for me. I need support from people. Grassroot Entertainment is a newborn baby. I started my career with Venkatesh (Saathi). I had the subject of 100 % Love with me and we discussed and decided to team up to take our long bond a step further. We have done several films together, we understand each other’s mentality and we thought we could do business together. It’s an add-on to our relationship. I had produced Fighter earlier, under the banner IOU production.

What do you play in 100 % Love?

A guy-next-door whose name is Rahul. He is a bindaas guy who has so far lived off his father. He doesn’t have a job but neither is he trying for one nor is he interested in getting one. He whiles away his time with friends. Then he falls in love and that inspires him to get serious about life. And when he gets serious, life becomes complicated. This is a very content-driven film. I have tried to be different but then it’s a commercial film, so you have to also keep those things in mind which the audience like about you.

What’s the secret behind your chemistry with Koel?

It’s a mystery! (Laughs.) Actually the chemistry varies from subject to subject. But we are no more that typical college-going boy-girl. In 100 % Love, my character is 30-plus. But I don’t want to play only my age (laughs). I can play a character older than me or a character that is younger than me. If Aamir Khan can play a college kid in 3 Idiots, why can’t I!? They [the Bollywood men] inspire us. If I have to play a college boy, I will work for it. I will tone up my body and try to make myself look younger. But, of course, playing your age has a moja. You are comfortable and you don’t have to push yourself.

100 % Love will be pitted against Khokababu, like Shatru and Paglu were last year...

It’s not good to release two big films together but then Shatru and Paglu both did well and I hope the same happens with these two films. It does affect, business-wise, but every film has its fate. There’s no competition with Dev or anyone. My past work is my competitor. Very diplomatically correct answer! (Laughs.) I don’t even watch most of the films. It’s not good, but hoye othey na.

You have completed 10 years in the industry. Do you want to play characters other than the lover boy and action hero?

Well, 100 % Love has a lot of comedy. It’s a light film. Very entertaining. See, in my 10 years, I have done only 33-35 films, which is nothing because there’s so much yet to be done in commercial or arthouse or meaningful films.... Now different kinds of films are being made, entertaining as well as cerebral, which are doing well at the box office. There’s a nice bridge. I have shown an interest to work with a few directors and be a part of the other kinds of films, but things will fall in place when they have to. I want to experiment. I have tried it before (Hello Memshaheb). I am a professional actor. The more I explore myself the better.

What do you do in Hyderabad when not shooting?

It’s very boring. Ramoji Film City, if you have no shoot, is really killing. It’s a glorified cell. In 10 years, I have spent more than 500-600 days here. My first Telugu film (Chandu) was shot here, for which I was in Ramoji for three months.... Mohna (wife) and I were here on the 31st (December). She went to see the Charminar with Raviji’s (Kinnagi, director) wife.... I have met Telugu superstars like Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, (Nandamuri) Balakrishna. Ravi Teja is a friend. Upendra (Kannada superstar and Jeet’s Saathi co-star Priyanka Trivedi’s husband) is a very dear friend.

Do you watch Telugu films?

Remake kori toh amra! Kaajer jonyo dekhi (We remake them, so I see it for work). I can speak a few words. Bhojanam chesara? Meaning, have you had your food? Bagunnara, meaning kemon achho!