April 12, 2011 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS): Bollywood actress Juhi Chawla will be seen playing a Kashmiri Pandit in Onir’s I Am. The actor chats up Sreya Basu on what made her pick up an off-beat film and also raise funds for its making
What made you turn associate producer of I Am?
I have worked with Onir before (My Brother Nikhil). He makes different films but interesting ones. When he wanted to make I Am, he had a novel way of approaching people across the world (via Facebook) and raising funds. So I also thought of contributing a little. See, we keep saying, ‘I like him’, ‘I believe in him’, so I told myself: ‘Let’s put the money where the mouth is’ and wrote a little cheque. And it’s fine, I am happy that I could show him in action that I believe in him. And as a bonus, I also became the associate producer of the film. (Laughs)
Did you find an issue-based film safer to put your money in?
I am from hardcore commercial cinema. I do not believe that whenever there is an issue, the next day a film has to be made on it…aisa nehin hona chahiye ke issue-based heavy film ban gayi. A film has to be engaging. There has to be entertainment…it’s okay if there is no comedy…but when I go to the theatres, the film should keep me interested…the filmmaker must be telling the story in a way that I won’t want to get up from my seat. Now, when I see a film like I Am, that is where I say, I want to contribute. I am not contributing in something that is not holding my interest.
So, I Am is not a serious kind of a film?
I Am looks like a serious, issue-based film because the subject is different. There are four interweaving stories on different issue- Abhimanyu on child abuse, Omar on gay rights, Megha about Kashmiri Pandits and Afia on sperm donation. But when the film starts, you won’t find the film heavy, you won’t be able to get up from your seat…and take my guarantee, you will watch it captivated.
Tell us about your character in the film.
I am playing Megha who returns to her home in Srinagar (Kashmir) after 20 years. She had a traumatic experience when she was very young…her family had to escape from there. Now she again goes back to her old home where she meets her childhood friend (Rubina, played by Manisha Koirala), who is a Muslim and had her share of trauma and sufferings.
Even before its release in India, I Am has won a number of awards and also got positive previews by critics. Do you think this will draw more people to the theatres?
Zaroor. People look up to these awards, comments of critics, celebrities; if something good is written about a film, they feel like watching it at least once. Also, these awards and comments reflect what the film is all about…that there must be something that made it deserve these awards.
You also didn’t take money to act in I Am. True?
Yes, this is the first time I was not paid to act, but I paid money to act. Dekho Onir humse kya kya karwa raha hai! (Bursts into laughter)