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Aishwarya: At one point, Omung Kumar thought I was dropping out of Sarbjit
In her just-released film Sarbjit, Aishwarya Rai has gone the de-glam route to bring to life the character of Dalbir Kaur. SpotboyE spoke to the actress about all that went into making the film. Excerpts:
Omung Kumar told me that you said yes to Sarbjit in 15 minutes. Are you normally that quick in deciding about your films?
Well, I thought he would say 5 minutes (laughs). I think he was also in a rush that day; he had to go to some award function. Even I was busy dubbing for Jazbaa. Our minds were conditioned that we won’t have much time for this meeting. Incidentally, there was an instant connect. The ‘Y’ of ‘Yes’ had started ticking in me. Let me tell you why. 10 years ago, Dalbir Kaur started a petition to bring Sarabjit Singh back, which reached me to be one of the signatories. The person from the industry who brought this to me told me that Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan) has supposedly signed this and it would be great if I can join as well.
How was your experience of meeting Dalbir Kaur?
It would have been really selfish of me if I had met Dalbir Kaur to watch her. I wanted to meet her to meet her and not to watch her.
What was it like when you met her?
I met her at the end of the first day of shoot. The scene which had been shot was about Sarabjit and his sister meeting each other after 18 years. Even for Omung, it was a big challenge to treat this scene right. It was a very intense day. We all were very emotional. I remember I was removing my make-up and getting ready to go back to Aaradhya. I was getting out of the Dalbir mode and getting back into Aishwarya mode. And suddenly, I was told that she is here.
I didn’t expect her to be here on a day like this. And mind you, she had already seen the scene. I asked the team that why they had called her on such an intense day of shoot. I was told that she had dropped by on her own.
I said I will obviously meet her. I have only respect, grace and love for her. We saw each other and hugged. We sat down and there was a long silence, but a lot was communicated in that silence. Even after that, we spoke little- but whatever we spoke was so real.
She told me, “Aap ghar aayiye. Ghar ka khana khilaungi.” She then added, “Main aapko thodi si takleef dungi jab aap aayenge. Kuch logo ke saath tasveer leni hogi.” I thought it was so real. I also told her not to address me as ‘Aap’ because I am so much younger to her.
It was such a simple request and we had to make that happen. Even in Punjab, she would come with a group— but we knew she was doing it so correctly.
What was your first reaction when you saw yourself in the mirror with that make-up where you look older?
(Smiles) On Day 1, I had applied a certain material which had an adverse effect on my skin. I spoke to Omung about it, and asked, “Should I be doing it?” He thought I had decided to not do the film. I understand that people might feel that ‘Aishwarya Rai hai toh shayad na kare.’ I quickly explained to him that my skin was playing up and I can’t be dishonest to the character.
He must have been shaken up…
He said that he will try the same material on his skin because he has a similar skin texture.
Why couldn’t you go in for prosthetics?
We couldn’t do prosthetics. We wanted something real, quick and believable— yet practical. The film we were doing was a film on a certain stipulated budget, time-bound.
How did you settle the issue?
We used a different material.
Were you happy with Jazbaa? Did you think it could have done slightly better at the box-office?
I give myself completely to the film. My directors, colleagues, technical team and all who are connected to the film can vouch for that. There are some good films I have done that have not found the right audience. And there are some films that have done beyond its time. So I feel that a film lives to its destiny. But yes, Jazbaa could have been marketed better. Jazbaa turned out to be the way the director (Sanjay Gupta) had envisaged. If you can recover more than what you have invested, isn’t that enough? Many people from the critics, fraternity, media and my well-wishers messaged me positively. People who viewed it later also appreciated my work.
Tell us about your next film, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil…
It’s a very different film. Ranbir (Kapoor) is a wonderful talent to work with. I am so glad we got the opportunity to know each other and work together. I had a brief encounter with Anushka (Sharma) as well. She is lovely and just look at the kind of work she is doing, isn’t it amazing? Karan (Johar) and I have known each other for too long, so it was a ‘Yes’ from my side which happened at a personal level too. I am glad that I worked with him because he says that he has waited too long for us to work together. We are like family. I have had a blast doing ADHM.
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