“Success Is Personal”
-EXCERPTS FROM AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH TANISHAA MUKERJI
Tell us about your role in your upcoming film about Anna Hazare.
For this project I am playing a journalist and what’s really interesting is that the media had a very interesting relationship with Anna Hazare during his movement at the Ram Leela Maidan and we’re basically tapping into a little bit of that – how a media person was transformed by his (Anna Hazare’s) hope for our country.
How did you get into the skin of the character?
The film is very realistic and my character had no makeup. I saw multiple videos of Hindi journalists because there is a certain way in which they speak – when they are reporting, they have a kind of rhythm to their language. I had to really get into that kind of flow. Plus the Hindi is very strong, so I had to really work on that to get into the skin of my character.
What was your reaction when you got to know that you are going to do a biopic on Anna Hazare?
I was happy and excited.
But this sort of a role is going to be a bit hat ke…
I think today there are no roles that are ha tke. If you are an artist and an actor, you would like doing something like this. It’s a meaty role and the female transforms in the film from someone who is jaded and not that involved in journalism to someone who’s very involved in what she’s doing. I think it was very interesting. I like playing these kinds of transformative roles.
What would you say about your transformation as an actor for this role?
As an actor when I started the project I was very intrigued by the way the journalists interact and the way they speak. When we started shooting, there many scenes where my director would have to tell me, “I need you to have no emotion”. As an actor when you’re told to have no emotion, you wonder how to do that. But it’s very interesting because all the stress comes on the language, it doesn’t show on your face. So it’s a very interesting way to perform.
What would you say about your growth as an actor as well as a person from when you started out till now?
I think my growth as an actor has included a lot of self-revelations. When I first entered the film industry I was very Hollywood – I didn’t understand our industry because I had lived in Australia. I have not grown up going on set with my sister. When I started acting, I realised that our industry is very specific in how they want things. There are very few directors with a vision, which I understood later (laughs). Today I can see and understand which directors are the ones that can really transform your character.
So who all are on your wish-list of directors?
The one director who I never got a chance to work with and would like to work with is Yash Chopra because as far as a director he has really got a lot of great performance from his actors. I think another director I would really like to work with is Raju Irani. I think he is very inspirational today.
And in the case of your co-stars?
I would love to work with Shah Rukh because I have seen him work with my sister and I think he’s a very generous actor. He really takes care of his heroines.
Not with your brother-in-law?
I have already worked with my brother-in-law, but not in the front of the camera. As a producer, director and co-star, I would love to work with Ajay. He is so experienced and knows exactly how to handle the scene. Actors like Ajay are very challenging actors to work with simply because they take the scene beyond its written limitations.
What is your definition of success with regard to Bollywood?
Honestly, I don’t like to define success because success is personal. It’s your journey and there is no one single thing. You will succeed in one thing and fail in another. So you don’t reach any kind of pinnacle as you are constantly striving. And that’s what I think I’m all about – I am always striving.
How do you react to criticism?
I laugh at criticism. I love it. I feel more challenged when I am criticised. Earlier when I first faced criticism it was very hard. I didn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t know how to take it. I actually believed what people said about me – that I was fat, horrible, this, that… I am a very sensitive person so it really hurt me. I would take it to heart that they would compare me with my sister. I never compared myself with my sister and I still don’t. There is no comparison.
Are you spiritual by nature?
Yes I am very spiritual.
What can you tell us your other interests?
I have just launched my NGO which is all about environment and planting trees. I feel very strongly about the environment. As a human being we have a duty to our children and future generations to maintain and revive what we have destroyed.