- What is the naughtiest thing you have ever done?
One time in school, we blew up our chemistry lab, parts of it and put the blame on someone else.
- If you were allowed a chance to spend a naughty evening with a co-star, who would you chose from the following: A. Kajol B. Deepika Padukone C. Kareena Kapoor Khan
I’m so beautifully inclined to these ladies; I don’t think I have to choose. I would spend the naughty evening with all three of them.
- Who would you prefer being stuck in a lift with? A. Salman Khan B. Karan Johar C. Aamir Khan
None of them, I wouldn’t even like to be stuck in the elevator alone.
- We live in the day and age of surgery and botox, if you could steal a leading male Bollywood stars beauty, whose would it be and why?
I am so beautiful; you think I need to steal from anyone else? If you ask some other actors this questions, they might want to steal mine.
- Who according to you has the best legs in Bollywood?
I don’t notice. Talking about ladies, I notice their eyes. Guys I would of course not look.
- You have not done many onscreen kisses, but from the new generation of B-town actors who do you think makes the best kisser?
I haven’t done many so how would I know.
But who do you think would?
But then I’d be telling
- Awards season has started, if you could steal an actor’s award, whose would it be?
I’d like to win one for the stuff that I’ve done, hopefully. I would prefer that and I hope for that every time I give a performance which is award worthy. But if it’s not I wait for the next year.
- If you were allowed to choose who you wanted to be reincarnated as, which living person would you choose and why?
I’m very pompous and self-centred about this. Wouldn’t you love to be Shah Rukh Khan? I’d love to be Shah Rukh Khan again. It’s the honest truth. I know him the best and I am the best.
- Finally, if you were given the chance to play a gay character in a film, who would you like to choose as your love interest from the current generation of male Bollywood stars?
I don’t cast hero or heroines in my films. I’m one of the few actors who doesn’t choose his heroes or heroines. I leave it to the director, so you should ask director who is going to make me play a gay character for him. When I was in theatre, I did a couple of them. It was very interesting but nobody has offered me a role like that but if offered I would do it.
Stammering ‘Jagga Jasoos’ talks unfalteringly as maiden producer of exciting new adventure packed musical
He’s the Bollywood heart-throb thousands of girls want to date. An actor par excellence with striking good looks whose unique ability to effortlessly pour himself into a character makes him one of the most sought-after actors in showbiz today. Be it the critically acclaimed Rocket Singh or the hugely successful Rockstar and Barfi, to name a few, it’s difficult to take your eyes off him when he is on screen. Moreover, he is an actor who can’t be conveniently pigeonholed. Such is his broad range of repertoire. Yes, we are talking about none other than Ranbir Kapoor, the Jagga Jasoos.
For Bollywood fans release of a Ranbir Kapoor film is always music to their ears. The icing on the cake this time is – the film itself is a musical.
Much to their delight, the long-awaited Disney and Pictureshuru Production’s Jagga Jasoos starring Ranbir Kapoor and the stunning Katrina Kaif will release this week (July 14). The musical adventure mystery, written and directed by the Barfi-maker Anurag Basu, will have Ranbir playing the role of a detective of sorts as he sets out on a hunt to find his missing father, with Kat’s character tagging along.
The musical comedy reportedly has 29 songs, all composed by the prolific Pritam. If Ranbir’s character in Barfi was mute, in Jagga Jasoos he stutters throughout the film. Interestingly, the only time when he would speak and express himself without a stutter is in the songs, all 29 of them.
With Jagga Jasoos actor Ranbir has added one more feather to his cap; he has debuted as a producer.
As part of the film’s promotion, the modest, yet confident actor spoke frankly about Jagga Jasoos and his experience as a co-producer in an exclusive telephonic interview with Asian Style Magazine.
By ANAND PILLAI
Anand: Jagga Jasoos has been delayed and as we know you have got some very exciting films at hand apart from Jagga Jasoos, so how did you manage to maintain the passion to complete this film and stay true to the film?
Ranbir: I think starting from the fact that I have believed in Anurag Basu’s vision. I really loved the idea he narrated to me three-and-a-half years ago and even though it took this long to make the film, you know he stayed true to his passion, he stayed true to his vision and his idea for the film. And just the core emotion that I felt when I heard the script, you know it remained in my mind and don’t really care about the time it’s taken to make the film. Of course, it’s hard, you lose patience, you get frustrated but eventually it’s the greater purpose and that’s to put out a good film. So I think all of us didn’t lose our patience and that’s only because of Anurag Basu. We all have immense love and respect for him.
It’s your maiden co-production, what have you learned as a producer during the making of this film?
Well, I think the first year I learned as a producer was that I won’t produce another film. It’s not my cup of tea. It’s not something that is my calling. I am very happy being an actor. I would love to direct a film. But I don’t think producing a film is something I enjoy.
Where did the inspiration for your unique hairstyle in the film come from? It reminds me of Tintin.
Well, I think a little inspiration came from there. But I think Dada (Anurag Basu) just wanted Jagga Jasoos to have a little bit of unique look to himself, something which is a bit strange, which is not normal. It’s the hairstyle his (Jagga Jasoos) father gives him before he goes missing and that’s why he maintains it all these years thinking that if his father sees him, he will at least recognise him by his hairstyle. You know there’s a nice logic in story behind that too and I was more than happy to don it.
In an interview director Anurag Basu has said that he has tried to make a feel-good film. In your view what do you think people will take away from the film?
Well, it’s a universal film. It’s a film that you would like to see with your entire family, your children will really enjoy it. There are certain values that he wants to address in this film. There’s a certain kind of entertainment, the visual effects are amazing, it’s a musical, it’s an adventure film, there is romance, there is comedy, there’s mystery. It’s like a different kind of masala film.
I saw the trailer of the film. You stutter so well. Needless to say, it’s sheer talent. How did you master it?
Well, it was challenging, because it can sound very jarring. It can look very jarring. It can look very fake and artificial. But you know I had Dada’s help. I did a lot of practice and with that you become the character, you surrender to it. But yes, initially it was a challenge.
What have been the best moments for you in the film?
You know since it has taken so long, you keep losing patience, but whenever I was on set with Anurag Basu and the entire cast and crew, there was always something magical happening. You know it’s wasn’t the run-of-the-mill situations, it wasn’t things I was probably doing in my other films, everything was a new experience. Everything felt like an adventure, you know the kind of scenes he created, the treatment, the music, the situations, the costumes. Dada made me sit on ostriches, he made me run on trains, he made me hide myself in a basket when I am naked, he made me do things which probably I would not do in real life and definitely not in other films.
Why should our readers go and watch Jagga Jasoos? What’s your message to them?
Well, it’s hard to hard-sell a film. You guys have seen the trailer, you guys liked the songs. All we can promise is it’s an entertaining film, it’s something that you can watch with your family. I have to say a big thank you for the love and support you guys have shown towards me and my other films.
AR RAHMAN: “I don’t have any borders in my head. I want to respect and I want to give whatever I can within my limitations, that is the best”
By FATIMA PATEL
AR Rahman, does this name really need an introduction? Well for those who don’t know (and really surprised if you don’t) Rahman is probably one of the world’s most renowned musicians.
He is most noted for integrating Indian classical music with electronic music, world music and traditional orchestral arrangements. With accolades and awards including two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe, four National Film Awards, fifteen Filmfare Awards and sixteen Filmfare Awards South. As well as the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, in 2010 by the Government of India the South Indian man is truly a musical genius.
Rahman’s career has spanned 25 years and to celebrate he is in the UK for a special 25-year anniversary concert at the Wembley Arena. We caught up with the introvert ahead of his concert and here’s what he had to say.
Fatima: Welcome back to the UK for your 25th anniversary concert in Wembley. What can audiences expect from this show?
The show promises to be a mega multimedia spectacular. Can you tell us a bit more about that and how the concept has come about for this particular show?
It’s about the music but at the same time it’s about having all the gizmos and videos and everything so it gives a better dimension to the show. We have some great music and some great musicians coming, so I am really looking forward to it.
Do you have any memories from any previous UK concerts that you have performed at that you can recall and share with us?
I have a lot of memories and I am hoping that this is going to be an even better one. People in the UK are always very supporting. I have performed in London and Birmingham however, not in the North of England, though we wanted to go, but it never worked out for various reasons. Though we are very very excited about London
Well I come from Yorkshire so you have an open invite sir to Yorkshire whenever you come we would gladly welcome you. Going back to your 25-years in the industry do you ever look back and reflect on your past 25 years?
Well the first few years was such a high for me like everything such as awards, or what I could do musically, within the limitation of the needs of the movie and we had one of India’s best Director directing it and nobody would even dream about having that team so it only got better for me. So that actually set the standards and am really grateful for that, to God and to the whole team that helped put it out there.
You’re doing Hindi, Hollywood as well as the regional projects. So many different languages yet you manage to tune it so well with your music compositions. How do you manage to achieve this?
I don’t have any borders in my head. I don’t have any judgemental prejudices in my head and so I try to be as keen as possible and so I want to work with every culture, I want to respect and I want to give them whatever I can within my limitations that is the best. It’s not easy for me, but there is a process and within this process there is a whole team involved, the directors are involved, the producers are involved, so by that I think it’s easy to achieve.
That’s wonderful I mean is it because of this attitude that you’ve managed the hectic work load that you have because you’re working all over internationally, locally and now you’ve got the concert coming up as well?
I think from the early ages from my life I have been so obsessed about my work and that’s not changing. Even though now it’s expanding I am actually directing a virtual reality movie and I am producing a movie called 99 songs and there are so many other things.
Obviously, you’re doing a lot more going forward, but looking back what would you say have been the main highlights of your journey so far?
I think for me you know you have mind set as an artist in India that oh who’s going to come sign me up and that mind set changed in the process of the 20 odd years to, do I need people to come and sign me up? Of course, when people come to me I respect that, but why can’t I do my own things like open a school, or I do something for charity? So, all these things being an introvert it’s like wow. So, there are many opportunities within us and everyone, not only me we just have to open those doors, the doors are all there. After I reached 40 I feel like I can open any door whenever I want to and I have been trying to do that
Apart from your own music do you ever listen to anybody else’s music and do you enjoy other soundtracks?
I don’t have much time to listen to music, because I have so much to do. I have to arrange music… I have to produce music. So, I try to listen to music which is not connected with me or Indian. I listen to music from Senegal or Iceland or anything that’s on radio.
You’ve got your concert coming up is there any message you would like to give to our readers
I just want to thank all the people who have bought tickets. Music is for love music is for peace.
Thank you so much for speaking to us sir, we wish you all the best.
Introduced by AR Rahman he started his career exactly ten years ago, for a Tamil film called Sivaji and has gone on to sing songs in several other languages, including for the Hindi film industry more popularly known as Bollywood.
His songs such as Ude Dil Befikre, Badtameez Dil, and Tu Meri Dost Hai have gone on to be smash hits with millions of listeners worldwide. After obtaining a Masters in journalism, disappointed with career options in music, Benny nearly gave up on his dream by taking on a job, until music maestro AR Rahman came calling…and the rest as they say is history.
We caught up with the new generation, versatile Indian singer, Benny Dayal ahead of his UK tour with music legend AR Rahman to chat about everything music.
By FATIMA PATEL
Fatima: Lovely to be speaking to you. So, my first question to you is, AR Rahman introduced you as playback singer in films how did the introduction actually happen?
Benny: Actually, even I don’t know, it’s been a miracle, actually to be very honest. I was actually looking for work when I did start like exactly 11 years ago and I used to be like asking and approaching a lot of composers in Chennai when I was in Chennai and no one had any work for me or taken an interest in my voice. Nothing was working out for me so then I took this job and was wondering if my journey in music will ever happen. Then three days into my job I got a call from his (AR Rahman’s) studio which was extremely ironic but I think it was to happen the way it was meant to happen.
A dream came true for you then?
So how important do you think his (AR Rahman) role has been in the shaping of your musical career?
Oh, definitely what can I say sometimes I feel I am not worthy of talking about him, what he has achieved, in this time and space, taken his music globally and made a mark for the industry. At a time in an Indian society when nobody believed music could be a lifelong career, there was a time in India where parents used to tell us to keep music as a hobby and get a job. So, when he came into the industry in 1992 with Roja, he started to introduce a lot of new singers who weren’t there in the industry besides, SP Bala Subramaniam and Hariharan. Even Hariharan sir was introduced at that time. And so, it was incredible to see that he (AR Rahman) had brought out a lot of new singers that gave us youngsters in India to have the hope of taking music up as a career. And so not just musically, but technically and sound wise, in terms of composition, in terms of tune, in terms of musical arrangements. It’s everything that he has showed us, the simplicity and intensity, you know so many things. So, there is so much and you can keep going and talk for 48 hours on him and it still wouldn’t be enough on Rahman Sir.
You’ve definitely left your mark as well, I mean your background is from an Indian Indie scene you’ve bought a lot of soul RNB and Jazz in your music that wasn’t seen before in Bollywood but now has been accepted
I could probably say I was one of them first singers who started singing a lot of RNB and Soul. I could see there were singers like Shaan and KK, you know they was also there. I should say thank you to composers like AR Rehman for giving me the opportunity to take that genre forward and bring new flavour to and give it the flavour of Indian music
It’s fantastic to see that these new genres of music are being explored in Bollywood but more that it has been accepted. Where do you think the Bollywood industry is heading now with all these new genres coming forth and the fact that people are experimenting with music?
Every musical industry, or every musical society would have to evolve. Because that’s exactly how we go ahead it’s important to progress. I meet a lot of journalists who say music is not like how it was and I am sat at a press conference and I’m saying hey your shooting pictures from a digital camera and why aren’t you using a still camera, so you like shooting from a digital camera now. So, you see what I am saying? So, it’s same with music. Music can’t stay analogue and it’s not just for radio, but digital platforms too. There are so many social media platforms nowadays. So, you have to evolve and that’s exactly how life should be. There are many platforms, many ways to listen to music according to people’s affordability.
So, which Indian musician apart from AR Rahman sir has inspired you over the years?
From Indian definitely, everyone has played a vital role in my career. I have worked with Vishal & Shekar and they have definitely helped in my career giving me the right songs.
You’ve recently celebrated your first wedding anniversary so congratulations on that….
Thank you thank you so much.
Does your wife have any influence on the kind of songs you sing. For example, does she prefer you to sing more romantic songs or maybe the songs like Badtameez dil?
(Laughs) She loves all my songs. She doesn’t mind, she never says you should sing songs like that. Whatever comes.
You’re coming to the UK for the 25 years AR Rahman concert. How are you feeling about performing live at the concert?
Extremely incredible I can’t tell you we’re celebrating 25 years of AR Rahman music, as I have been such a hard-core fan of his and to be a part of his celebration and to be on tour performing with him I just can’t explain how I feel. He’s the reason why I got into this industry. To be a part of his twenty-fifth year anniversary nothing can get better than that for me
Thank you so much for speaking to us and we wish you all the best with your tour in the UK
Thank you very much FatimaRead more
Sushant Singh Rajput has been in the limelight for the better part of a decade, making his debut on television in the hit serial, Pavitra Rishta. Since then his career has taken one interesting turn after another with Sushant making some rather interesting and offbeat role choices. Last year, Sushant hit the ball out of the park (literally) playing Mahendra Singh Dhoni in his biopic MS Dhoni: The Untold Story. The actor is now back with his next, Raabta, that hits screens on June 9. Ayesha Babar caught up with him about the film and more.
Ayesha: Raabta has a very interesting concept which the tagline explains as ‘Everything is Connected’. In your own life, have you ever come across a situation where you have felt this kind of a Raabta?
Sushant: There are times in all our lives when we can’t understand why a particular thing is happening or why we are feeling a certain way and we try and come up with explanations for it. For instance, sometimes we like or dislike somebody without any reason whatsoever. I personally don’t believe in reincarnation but I think there definitely is some truth that has got to do with vibes when people meet.
When I read the script of Raabta, I was really excited, the fact that I didn’t believed in reincarnation didn’t matter. The script is just telling a really nice story about these two people, Shiv and Saira who meet in a chocolate shop in Budapest and from there the film follows their story which is entwined with another story from the past. I think the people will really enjoy the story being told and the engaging way it is being told in.
A: Tell us more about the character that you play in the film. Are you similar to the character?
S: Haha, no I am actually quite different. Shiv is always ready with something to say, very witty, very charming. Usually that is not how I am in real life so I would always try and hold on to the character for a little bit longer but alas! Shiv was actually a really cool opportunity to be my interesting self for 6-7 months at a stretch and the best part is, I was getting paid for it (laughs).
A: You are a part of the young brigade along with actors like Alia, Varun, Deepika, Kangana and Ranbir that is bringing some very interesting ideas to Bollywood. How do you feel about you guys being the changing face of cinema?
S: To be honest, I feel that we are still light years away from making the kind of films that we appreciate, the kind of work that is done in Hollywood. See, ultimately it is a money making industry and I feel that we are still very cautious about making different kinds of cinema. To be at par with the competition we need to be much more creative and courageous. We need to take more chances.
A: You are known to work really, really hard for your roles and to keep your cool under pressure. What drives you to keep going when things get tough professionally?
S: I think if you are working on a film, the script has to be exciting enough for the actor to be able to put in the effort. If I believe in the script and the character that I am portraying then that becomes my motivation to give my everything to the film!Read more
If you know anything about the UK Indie pop industry, you would know about Dr Zeus. As one of the pioneers of the British Asian music industry, he has consistently produced music that has rocked the charts and been a trendsetter for many others. Ayesha Babar spoke to him about his musical journey and his new track, Party Nonstop.
Ayesha: Your last song in Bollywood was the superhit ‘Kamlee’ that was featured in the Shah Rukh Khan – Deepika Padukone starrer, Happy New Year but then we haven’t heard much from you since. What’s the reason behind the gap?
Dr Zeus: To be totally honest with you, when I did Kamlee, I didn’t have a good experience with Kanika Kapoor. A few things happened at that time that left me rather upset and put me off from working in Mumbai. I thought if that is the way that I am going to be treated out there, then I would rather not. I was quite happy and content working on British Punjabi music.
Now things are different. I have actually got an apartment in Mumbai in Versova and I am getting my own studio built. I am making an effort to go to Mumbai and to do more Bollywood stuff. I am now over that phase where I was put off and now am quite positive about the whole thing. I am going to go out there and prove my mettle by doing more Bollywood work.
DZ: Party Nonstop was a song that I had made while I was in Mumbai working on Kamlee and Lovely. It was one of the numbers that I had planned to put in a movie. Then I took such a long break from Bollywood, I thought hey, why not enter Bollywood with a single first to announce that Dr Zeus is around and then to continue with Bollywood work. So Party Nonstop is one of those songs that was made for Bollywood but as things turned out, I put it out as a pop song with Universal. The studio loved the song and wanted to do a video directed by the wonderful Mohit Suri.
A: Tell us more about the video. How was it working with Mohit Suri?
DZ: It was an excellent working experience with Mohit. He is a cool dude, great guy. He knows how to bring the best out of the people he is dealing with, in terms of moods and expressions. And I think that shows in the video too. It is by far one of the best videos I have done for any of my songs. It was a personal track with me singing as well and he made it that much more special for me.
It feels great that Mohit Suri directed the video and Universal released it worldwide. It doesn’t really get better than that. The video has also had millions of views so far in a short span of time. I guess the track is still growing and the numbers are going up especially on the weekend, so I think people are really taking it up as a party track.
DZ: The pop scene is now coming back. I think the proof is how much money the studios are willing to put on pop artists now. For example how Universal really took up Party Nonstop, hired Mohit to direct the video and got Evelyn Sharma to star in it with me. All this really points us to the fact that the pop scene is coming back with a big bang. There was a time when it was all just about Bollywood but that is changing. Badshah is now putting out his own album with his single Mercy already out. Raftaar is putting out his own personal music too so it is definitely a growing scene.
A: What else are you working on in terms of Bollywood and otherwise?
DZ: Currently, I am working quite closely with Kapil Sharma on a project. I am also working on a mainstream, project with a hip hop artist which is going to have a famous Indian actress in the video as well. It will be very mainstream, like a Naughty Boy kind of project and it will be out just after the summer.
I have some really interesting things in the pipeline and a lot of Bollywood things happening so definitely very exciting times.
A: For the past couple of years, there has been this debate in India about pop and hip hop music numbers that are almost a staple in every film. A lot of people have said that there has been a shift away from meaningful lyrics and there was even a spoof done with Irrfan Khan recently. On the other side, the demand is obviously there with people wanting to listen to more of this music. What is your take on this?
DZ: Music is always evolving – I see that in today’s music scene, music is doing more of the talking than even the lyrics are! I think one needs to go with the fashion and trends and more importantly with what is working.
You can also be a trendsetter. I always look at it in a different way – the inspirations are there but I have always tried to add my own style to my music. A lot of people are taking sample CDs of what the latest sounds and beats are then rehashing the same stuff. There is definitely a lack of unique sounds. Someone who is great at arranging will now put their name as the producer or music director. Whereas, from the start, I have tried to produce a different kind of sound – I will always add the signature Zeus quotient to the music so that as soon as you listen to the song, you would know that it is my music.
Indian music has always been very melodic and the music has been a highlight. Even with hip hop and pop now, if the song isn’t essentially melodic, it does not fare well with listeners, so that element of melody always has to be there. So the style might change but the essence will remain the same.
A: What message would you like to give to the many young people who are interested in making music and look up to you.
DZ: First of all, I would like to thank everyone for the support for my music.
For anyone looking to get into music, I would say take your time. Don’t rush just because you want to be on TV. Learn and perfect the art before you move forward and good things will come your way.
I think it is very important for young people who want to make music to understand that each musician needs to have their own individual style and sound. Keep up with the trends but try and figure out how the trends can suit you.
Most importantly, I would say stay positive, stay happy. Good things happen for happier, positive people!
A: Thank you very much for taking out the time.
DZ: It’s been a pleasure speaking to you!Read more
Parineeti Chopra was instantly noticed in her first film, playing a young Delhi girl to perfection. During the past 5 years, she has proven her acting mettle, film after film. With Meri Pyaari Bindu now out, which features her in a sparkling role as the vivacious, and always up for an adventure, Bindu, Parineeti has also taken the plunge into playback singing. Ayesha Babar caught up with the actress as she opened her heart about the film and her personal journey to fitness.
Ayesha: Oh my God - your song! Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahin is such a gorgeous track - where was all this singing talent hidden before? How did the singing come about?
Parineeti: I have always sung before, and have also sung on stage. Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahin required more practice and preparation, as singing on the mic is another level. Playback singing requires talent, and I am very grateful that people have liked the first effort so much.
A: There's been a long gap between your last, Kill Dill and Meri Pyaari Bindu...why such a long gap? And what made you decide on Meri Pyaari Bindu?
P: Having worked in quite a few films, I decided to take time to look after myself. Getting healthy and fit became important. Within a year’s time, I was back on a film set for Meri Pyaari Bindu.
My main reason for choosing Meri Pyaari Bindu is its nostalgia factor, which connected to me instantly. All of us have a memory attached to a particular song. We relate to certain people, relationships and moments from our lives. The retro songs really attracted me to the film, and the theme of reclaiming and relating to precious time of the past.
A: We are loving the chemistry between you and Ayushmann - you are both from smaller cities in Punjab, and singer-actors. How was it working with Ayushmann?
P: Ayushmann is a really nice person; he is very gentle and friendly. Working with him was like working with a buddy, we had more similarities than differences. I am glad that our chemistry is being liked, it felt natural to be working with him on this particular script. [
A: The Golmaal set looks like a laughing riot - tell us more about that!
P: Oh my God, it’s a crazy set, it’s like fun all the time! I now understand why Golmaal is such a mad franchise. The people who make it are so much fun and amazing. There are games and pranks being played on set, and there is so much love and loyalty within the team. Of course, it’s a huge film but everything happens with clockwork precision. It’s one of my all time favorite sets.
A: You've become an inspiration for so many girls who aspire to improve their fitness. What's some advice that you'd give to other young people trying to so the same?
P: Getting fitter changes the way you look, and changes your outlook towards a lot of things in life. It’s worth the effort as you start to feel amazing and have a lot more stamina, energy and flexibility. It reflects on your work too. It’s about discipline and if you put your mind to it, you can achieve it.Read more
Nina Wadia: ‘It’s really important we encourage our own communities to get together and to support each other’
By Fatima Patel
Best known for her role as Zainab Masood on EastEnders, actress Nina Wadia is back on the big screen, with Finding Fatimah.
Finding Fatimah is a film which explores the British Muslim dating scene and Nina plays the role of a mother who is looking for her own partner and becomes infatuated with a man thirteen years her junior.
You wouldn’t expect anything less from Nina, but a standout performance. After all Nina is renowned for her role in the timeless sketch-show Goodness Gracious Me and has won several awards and accolades
Our Editor caught up with the Goodness Gracious Me star during the promotions of the upcoming British comedy and yes Nina too greeted our Editor with … I’ve found you Fatima…
Fatima Patel: So, tell us how did you get involved in the film?
Nina Wadia: I got an email from Oz, the director, via my agency saying: ‘would you read this’ it was originally called Single British Muslim and I thought it was a funny title and I said I would read the part and see if I like it and I did like it. So I said yes I would do it for him.
Wonderful, so you didn’t have to do any auditions and they had already planned this part for you.
Yes, he was hoping I would say yes, which is very complimentary and very nice.
That must feel amazing when people are approaching you with their scripts with a role already in mind for you to play.
That is, it really is. That’s probably because I’m very old.
In the film, you play the part of a mother who is infatuated with a man thirteen years her junior. What attracted you to play this role apart from obviously being asked by the director? What was it you liked about this role?
I liked a few things. Firstly I like supporting any new British Asian talent that’s out there, because I think that’s really important we encourage our own communities to get together and to support each other. I like that some of the proceeds to this film go to charity. I like that an issue, about divorce being like a stigma issue within the Muslim community is being talked about and I liked the cast and you know Oz brought a lot of warmth to the movie, you know the way he directed it, it’s such a sweet little kind of fun film, it will leave you feeling really good.
Whether you’re working on film or TV, you’ve frequently displayed a wonderful talent for sarcasm and often very funny put downs and obviously comic humour. Is that something that comes naturally to you? Are you naturally gifted in that sense, because most of your roles, whether film or TV have been down that route? So, tell us more about the real Nina.
I have a very very dark sense of humour and it comes out through sarcasm for sure. So yes, that is mostly me.
So, is that what draws you to these kinds of roles? Because your personality is pretty much similar?
I like anything were you can combine, kind of empathy for a character with a sense of humour. That for me is the most important and you have to like a character. You actually have to warm to someone in order to find them funny. If you don’t like someone, even if they are funny, you’re not going to find them funny. So, it’s having that empathy, that the audience can relate to, to then, you know, let them appreciate the sense of humour.
You mentioned you love supporting British Asian projects. Tell us how important do you think a film like Finding Fatimah is for the British Film Industry today?
I think it its hugely important how amazing is it going to be to have two brown faces on the front of a poster, you know, out here in Leicester Square, or out all over the country. You don’t see that very often. So it’s great, we need that, we need our British Asian film industry to take off. We don’t want to have to rely on other people to do it for us. Let’s do it ourselves.
Are there any memorable incidents that you’re able to share with us, while you were working on the film?There was a scene in which I had to, like Oz wanted me to walk around the table getting breakfast ready or something like that and I was also on the phone at the same time. So I said can I just shove the phone into my scarf and just be hands free and then that just set off a whole series of jokes about how you can use the headscarf. So, I did the scene with the phone shoved in my scarf and he said actually a lot of women do that, so that just made me laugh. I thought that was really cute.
Wonderful, will look forward to watching that in the film. Going a little bit away from the film, everyone remembers you from your role as the infamous Mrs Zainab Masood in Eastenders. Do you ever miss being on the show and is there a chance you can make a return on the famous soap?
Yes there is a chance I could do that, that is always in question. It won’t be immediate I’ve literally just come back from LA I just did a job for NBC Universal called Champions. So my careers going in a very different direction to heading back to the square, but in this job you never say never, because you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future and I loved my part in Eastenders. I thought Zainab Masood was an incredible character and I hope at some point she will be revived in the future, but it won’t be immediate unfortunately.
What kind of characters do you prefer playing? We’ve seen you do a lot of comedy; we’ve seen you in Bollywood as well, in Namaste London, where you played a mother. What kind of film or what kind of acting roles would you enjoy doing? What challenges you?
I mean my ideal part and I’d like to play her one day is Kate in Taming of the Shrew. I love Shakespeare, I started in Shakespeare, I did seven years practically worth of it before I went in to radio, to do Goodness Gracious Me and then into TV from there. So for me my first love always has been and always will be theatre. So, if there is a possibility to do something in that vein, I would love it, but TV seems to have taken over and film. They’re mediums that just from a financial point of view it’s easier to be a TV actress. You can support a family; with theatre it’s very hard because theatres you know, I can afford only as much as I can.
Well we hope someone is listening and gives you your ideal role someday. We’d like to thank you for talking to us and would like to wish you all the best for Finding Fatimah.
Gurinder Chadha: "Twenty-five years ago, I made Bhaji on the Beach and I was the first Asian woman to make a film in this country, 25 years later I am still the only Asian woman making films as a living in this country."
With hit British films like Bhaji on the Beach and Bend it like Beckham Gurinder Chadha is certainly a woman to be admired. After all this is the same woman who launched the careers of Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra.
She also went on to work with one of Bollywood’s biggest name – Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Bride and Prejudice and has been working away for the last seven years on what is probably her most personally invested film –
Viceroy’s House hits our screens on 3 March and is a based on the final months of British rule in India.
The film’s story unfolds within that great House. Upstairs lived Mountbatten together with his wife and daughter; downstairs lived their 500 Hindu, Muslim and Sikh servants. As the political elite; Nehru, Jinnah and Gandhi, converged on the House to wrangle over the birth of independent India, conflict erupted. A decision was taken to divide the country and create a new Muslim homeland: Pakistan. It was a decision whose consequences reverberate to this day.
The film examines these events through the prism of a marriage - that of Dickie and Edwina Mountbatten, and a romance, that between a young Hindu servant, Jeet, and his intended Muslim bride, Aalia. The young lovers find themselves caught up in the seismic end of Empire, in conflict with the Mountbattens and with their own communities, but never ever giving up hope.
Hugh Bonneville stars as Lord Mountbatten and Gillian Anderson as his wife, Lady Mountbatten. Lily Travers, Michael Gambon and Simon Callow round out the Brit cast while the Indian and Pakistani cast is led by Manish Dayal, Huma Qureshi, Om Puri, Tanveer Ghani, Denzil Smith and Neeraj Kabi.
We were lucky to catch up with the inspirational Director ahead of the film’s release. In an exclusive to Asian Standard Gurinder talks film and heritage
I had always grown up under the shadow of partition, just like so many of us. My ancestral homeland I didn’t have, because that was in a new country you call Pakistan and so my family are originally from Jhelum and Rawalpindi. About 8-9 years ago, I did a BBC documentary, ‘Who do you think you are’ and I went there for the first time and was overwhelmed at how much warmth and love I got from the people in the town of Jhelum, where my grandfather’s house was and people welcomed me. They said you’re our daughter, this is your home, this is your town you belong here.
I was very very touched by this and I went looking for my grandfather’s house, when I eventually found it (this was the house where my grandmother had upped and left as a refugee with her children) what was there now were five other families living there, but they themselves had been refugees living from the India side. So, they had come there and it was at that moment that reality of partition really hit me and I felt I really wanted to do something on it. But I had grown up with the education that I have got from British schools which basically said that partition was our fault because Mount Batten had come to hand India back, but somehow, we started fighting with each other and violence ensued, rioting ensued and Mount Batten had no choice but to divide the country and that was what I had grown up with. However, as I started researching of course and found the second book that my film is based on. The first book is 'Freedom of Midnight' and second book, 'Shadow of the great game', it transpires that actually the history I had been taught was wrong and that actually partition was a political act that had been planned.
So how much time did your research take?
This film has taken seven years in the making
What was your biggest take away after making this film?
That history was written by the victors. We have to stand up and tell our own histories. We have to really record our own place in the world and from our perspective.
How relevant is the film to today’s generation?
I think the film is really timely right now, because seven years ago, Obama was in power, there was no Syrian refugee crisis there was no Brexit and no Trump and so in that respect, the world is a different place now. And as a result, the film has a very timely message for people.
What happens when people start labelling whole communities and people start preaching hate, you have the politics of division, divide and rule and very quickly can escalate to death as we saw with partition.
What was it like working with Om Puri, who is sadly no more?
I have known and respected Om Puri for many years. There are not many in our business who have worked in India and England and America and Om was one of them. He was very excited when he got the script. We had been planning to work together for a very long time. He was very excited because 35 years ago, he had been in Ghandi. The first British film since then that was looking at partition and now Viceroy’s House
How do you think Indian audiences will react to the film?
The film is a very distinct British Asian point of view. An Indian filmmaker from India would have made a very different film I am sure. A Pakistani filmmaker from Pakistan would have made a very different film. So, I hope people in India appreciate my specific position and that it’s different to theirs.
We just returned from the Berlin film and there was an Indian film critic present I was keen to hear his view as he was the first to see the film from India and as it happens he was very pleased to see the film and he was grateful that it was completely fresh narrative.
Are there any real-life influences in the film?
Yes. The fact that I was so moved by ordinary people in Pakistan who wanted to connect with me was terribly moving, because the story you always hear about India and Pakistan are at war with each other, but the reality I saw with ordinary people was the opposite. So, that really informed the fact that I wanted to
make a film of ordinary people all living together and then how these policies of divide and rule started to divide them within the house, but also how it wasn’t just cut and dry. Om Puri plays a Muslim in the film, a Muslim freedom fighter for India. So, the dilemma that Aalia has, (Huma Qureshi’s character), which country is she going to give up? Is she going to give up India for love or is she going to go to Pakistan? These are questions that everybody is being asked, their loyalty and really wanted that ordinary people’s experience and that came from me meeting ordinary people who had been affected.
Do you think some people might be put off by the Hindu – Muslim conflict love story, something they’ve seen in several movies?
It’s not a traditional kind of Hindu Muslim love story, with conflicts and all the rest of it. It’s more about a metaphor for the two countries. One is Pakistan the other is India. Both of them are confused as to what they should do and where their loyalty should be, rather than the usual conflict of you can’t marry a Hindu or you can’t marry a Muslim or whatever. It’s not that kind of a love story at all. It’s very much, here are two people who care about each other, but the politics of the situation of their country is having an impact on their love affair.
What made you choose the cast that you have for the film?
I just cast everybody who I felt fit the part. Gillian Anderson I’ve seen her do period films before and she
is amazing. She hadn’t even finished reading the script and she called me and said I am in. I really want to do this film, it’s really important and then Hugh Bonneville, same thing. He has done charity work in India and so he really wanted to make this film in India.
With Huma I, didn’t know her. She auditioned for the film and did an amazing audition, so I cast her on the strength of her audition and of course now she has become a bit of a Bollywood starlet. And then Manish Dayal, I had seen in Hundred Foot Journey and thought he was very empathetic and so I liked the idea of him playing that role, even though he is from America.
Then I cast Jazz Deol, who plays the lead he is from Britain, he is from Southall and he is a lovely young actor, who I tipped to be very big one day.
And we’ve seen that you have a very good eye for it. Keira Knightly, and Parminder Nagra. You’ve launched some very successful careers. How does that feel?
It feels great.
You made Bhaji on the Beach in 1993 and now Viceroy’s House 2017, as a woman what has your experience been like in an industry which constantly questions equality for women?
Well, I think you only have to look at statistics in a study called Women calling the shots.
I judge it by what’s coming out. Twenty-five years ago, I made Bhaji on the Beach and I was the first Asian woman to make a film in this country, twenty-five years later I am still the only Asian woman making films as a living in this country. That’s a real indication of how hard it is for people to break into the industry and how it is to get films made. I have to really push and work hard to get a film made,
if I want to make a film with Asian people in it. If I wanted to make a film with English people and cast stars, it would be much easier for me to get things off the ground, but if I want to make a film about us and our history and our stories, it’s double harder in this country. So, this is why it’s really important for me that people from our community come out and support me in this film and come out and see the film on the 3rd, 4th and 5th March. And if possible they book their tickets in advance, then the message goes out to the cinemas and the industry that actually Asian people care about their own history. It’s not just Bollywood they are after, but British Asian stories that are important. Because if they don’t go out and support these kind of films, it’s just me making them no one else is going to be able to get a chance to make them. So really if we want a British Asian film industry, people really have to come out and support me in the cinemas.Read more
As his wittiest and usual charming self, King Khan took part in our naughty 9 quiz, where we posed 9 naughty questions on him. See how he did
Shahrukh Khan’s Raees released in cinemas on 25 January to packed houses. The film also stars Mahira Khan and Nawazuddin SiddiqueRead more
Hrithik Roshan: “The media should write about whatever they want to write about. I am just focused on my film and that’s all I have to do.”
By FATIMA PATEL
The Kaho na pyaar hai superstar has come a long way, with a respectable portfolio of films, accolades and awards. A female fan following like no other that will make any sane women go weak at the knees, but the superstardom hasn’t phased our Krissh and neither has his Kaabil’s clash with Shahrukh Khan’s Raees.
I caught up with Hrithik post his birthday celebrations during my recent trip to Mumbai. In a frank, open and endearing interview, we talked about family, friends, fans and films.
Firstly, a very belated but heartfelt birthday wish from me and my team at Asian Style Magazine.
Thank you so much, please thank them all from myself.
To be honest I don’t really get much time on my birthday, let alone reflect on anything. But that’s a good thing because I involve myself in giving back as much love as I can. So, birthdays are a day that I celebrate because of what people have given me and it’s a day when I use every single second of my time in trying to give back. I celebrate it with my fans, with my friends and with my family. So, it’s kind of a good thing for people to actually learn to do that, because sometimes there are people who don’t like the attention and shy away from those days. I would like to tell them that celebrating your birthday also sometimes takes some amount of courage. You have to have a really big heart to accept the love and then give it back. It takes effort, it’s not easy.
Oh you know, I don’t really pick those moments, because for me a fan moment which is really intense or just a smile means one and only one thing for me, which is appreciation and acknowledgment of my work and so I neither build an ego about it and I tend to take it the right way which I think is a compliment and it encourages me, it motivates me and I take that as my strength and I move forward. I don’t sit and joke about or revel about how crazy a fan went, because that really is not me. That is the magic of the movie. So, I attribute that to the movies and I take it as a compliment for my hard work.
You’re teaming up with your father, as producer, uncle as music director and of course the title of Kaabil has the lucky letter K in it. Winning team - but do you think this also adds more pressure on the outcome of the film?
Pressure is good. I like pressure. Pressure has always driven me forward. Pressure is what turns charcoal into diamonds, so pressure’s good I like pressure and if the K factor adds on more pressure, well bring it on.
How has it been working with Sanjay Gupta for the first time, seen as you both have different cinematic sensibilities?
Yes, I got to learn a lot from him. I think he is brilliant at what he does. I think it was about him finding the right script which I truly believe that he has this time and he has done magic. I don’t want to say much because it’s my film and it’s still not out there so I’ll just say that I am very thankful that I got to work with Sanjay Gupta in this film, he has been ‘My Director’ that says it all. He has been my director!
Let’s talk about your character in the film. You play a partially sighted character in Kaabil, something you’ve not played before. How do you prepare and get yourself into the skin of such a challenging role?
Well, I won’t shy away from the fact that it has been the most difficult journey so far. I will also say that difficult objectively when I say it, it’s difficult, but when I involve the passion with which we worked it actually was not hard work at all. Everything was so easy, because we felt so much, we impacted so much with the story, that it really was a cakewalk. So, it sounds contradicting but the paradox is that it has been the most difficult film I have done but it has also been the easiest film I have done.
If that makes any sense.
Yes, it does. Would you say that you found the film easier because you found a connect with the story?
Exactly, so when you have a connect, when you have a reason behind something, then no mountain is too high. So, it just made it so easy.
Oh, I could just go on and on about her. Yami, has to me, come from a different world into Kaabil and made it golden. I could not have asked for a better actor to play her character in this film. She is just brilliant. She is the most brilliant actor I have worked with and I say this with complete humility and honesty the most brilliant and easiest person I have worked with. The best quality about her is that she is open to every single idea to try and explore. No inhibitions. No block. She has a mind that is open. So, we have experimented, tried so many things and been able to explore so much it’s been so much fun.
She is the best thing about the film.
I am a Brit currently enjoying my break in Mumbai and am enjoying reading the Indian tabloids. Of late I’ve been looking at stories about Kaabil, for obvious reasons, and all I seem to find is talk about the clash of Kaabil with Raees, and rather less on the what the films individually have on offer for film fans. Does such a focus dishearten you?
Not at all. It’s, alright people should talk about whatever they want to talk about. The media should write about whatever they want to write about. I am just focused on my film and that’s all I have to do. Finally, it’s the content of the film that will show me where I stand and how the film is and whether our heart was in the right place and it will guide us for the future. There are a lot of things to learn from the results of something that you’ve worked hard for and that’s all I am focused on. So, it doesn’t matter what people talk about.
Ok so focusing on the film, is it true that Kaabil is inspired by the Korean film Broken and the Netflix series Daredevil?
I have no idea. I have not seen or heard of this Korean film and if you compare with Daredevil it will go into minuses. It is absolutely the opposite of daredevil. Like what could be the absolute opposite of daredevil that’s our film. There is no similarity at all Daredevil is a super hero and I am playing a very very normal man. A very common man.
We’re loving the soundtrack to Kaabil. Two of the album's songs have been recreated: Haseeno ka deewana and Kisi se pyar ho jaye which I love and have been beautifully re-made. With your uncle being an ace music director, if he offered you the opportunity to recreate a classic Hindi film song, which would you choose?
It would definitely be one of his. I am his biggest fan. The first one that I would choose of his would be ‘Kisi se pyar’ because that’s been a song that’s been my all-time favourite since I was a kid. So, having that song recreated and having sung it, I have already fulfilled a dream of mine.
Well, let’s hope those dreams keep coming true and you have an extremely Kaabil outcome at the box office.
Thank you very much FatimaRead more