April 1, 2010 (Calcutta Tube): Bollywood actress Minissha Lamba talks about Well Done Abba, her experience working with a director of the stature of Shyam Benegal and more in an intimate interview. Read the interview at CalcuttaTube.
How ecstatic were you when you received Shyam Benegal’s offer to act in Well Done Abba?
I was quite excited when I received the offer to act in Shyam Benegal’s latest film Well Done Abba. To tell you the truth, I took up the offer to act in a film like Well Done Abba only because Shyam Benegal is the director of the film. I did not even know what my role in the film was when I was offered the role. Would you believe it, I got the script just two days before the film was launched and hence there was no question at all to prepare for the role to get in to the skin of my character.
Tell me about your role in the film?
I play the role of a village girl called Muskaan. Muskaan is very much a today’s girl. She has not lost her girlhood. Muskaan wants to study and marry some one of her choice. Muskaan is some one who is very important to the plot, in the sense that she makes many things happen in the film. She is independent enough to motivate her dad and help him out when he requires her approval for his choice of a boy for her.
How did you prepare to get into the skin of the character of Muskaan?
Though I am of the opinion that when one works with a director of Shyam Benegal’s caliber, one need not do any home work, I had to do a lot of preparation for the role after I started shooting for the film. The toughest challenge that I had to face was that I had to play a girl with a different mind set especially since I have never been to a village all my life.
How was the experience of working with a director like Shyam?
Shyam Benegal Sir was very easy going though I was initially quite petrified about him since I had heard that he is a tough task master. I thought that he would be very stern but was pleasantly surprised how he directed even the most dreaded scenes that I feared I would not be able to do well, with effortless ease. The scenes were shot without me realizing that they were shot, which is what the hallmark of a director is.
What did you like the best about Shyam as a director?
The best thing about Sir was that he was sure of everything though I, on my part was panicky, because it was for the first time that I was getting to work with a director like him. It helped me that we had a dialogue coach on the sets all the while, since I had to speak in chaste Dakkini, with which Sir was quite comfortable. I executed the vision that Sir had of my character in the film to the best of my ability to his satisfaction.
To what extent, could you relate to your role in the film?
Personality wise, I admit that Muksaan is a lot like me in real life, except the fact that I need my cell phone, internet, cable and TV, after pack up every day. As an actress, it is quite fascinating for me to switch on, when the camera starts rolling and switch off when the pack up for the day is announced. Your make up, hair, costume etc help you a lot to get into the skin of your character, more than just your physicality.
How was Boman Irani, as a co-actor on the sets of the film?
I confess that I shared a great chemistry with Boman Irani, especially since I had earlier worked in Honey Moon Travels Limited, with him. Throughout the shooting, I used to address him only as Abba. Boman and I could easily shift to our characters easily, because we were like that even when the camera was not rolling.
Is there any other film up your sleeves as of now?
I am acting in Sagar Bellary’s next film after Bheja Fry called Hum Tum Aur Shabana. It is a love triangle with Shreyas Talpade, Tushar Kapoor and myself. No prizes for guessing that I am playing the title role of Shabana in the film, which is a romantic comedy.
What is your goal as an actress?
As an actress, I want to reach out to the maximum number of audiences, because all said and done, I believe that a film is made only to entertain the audiences. I enjoyed working in out and out commercial films like Bachna Ae Haseeno and Kidnap. Though I had made my debut in films with an off beat film like Yahaan, I am now keen on being a part and parcel of commercial films.
Do you regret having shed your inhibitions and appeared in a bikini for Kidnap?
I am a practical girl. I have no regrets that Kidnap did not do well at the box office. I am extremely proud of the fact that I had done a film like Kidnap. The role needed me to shed my inhibitions and appear in a bikini. It was a pleasure working with a director like Sanjay Ghadvi. However, if you ask me what I think went wrong with Kidnap; I will not be able to answer that question because I am too close to it to be objective about it.
How would you evaluate your growth as an actor from Yahaan to Well Done Abba?
I feel that I have come a long way since I had sasheyed into films with Yahaan opposite Jimmy Shergill. I do feel that there has been a lot of growth in me as an actress. Today I find acting quite easy unlike earlier, because I am now able to understand human emotions better and replicate in camera. If you ask me whether I am a natural actress or I need the director’s hand to guide me all that I can say is that it is role specific. There are certain roles which come easily to me, whereas I need the director to guide me in certain roles, like in Well Done Abba.
What is your approach to your role as an actress?
I just try to be as honest as possible. I have not gone to any acting school till date and hence I do not know anything about technique. As an actress, I need my director to spoon-feed me if I do not know how to do a scene but at the same time let me confess that when I set out to do some scenes, I want to be left alone too.
Is there a wish list for you as far as directors are concerned?
I am keen on working with directors like Imtiaz Ali, Vishal Bharadwaj, Ashutosh Gowarikar and Mani Ratnam.
-Jyothi Venkatesh/ Sampurn Wire