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April 2, 2002
Subhash K Jha
Mumbai is abuzz with talk of Urmila Matondkar having made a comeback to the Ram Gopal Varma's 'camp' with a last minute special appearance in Company. The film releases Friday, April 12.
"What is this camp nonsense?" chirps the actress. "I never said I was going to be part of every film that Ramuji would make. Nor have I said I will not do any more films with him. Since I am not talking to the press much, people are drawing their own conclusions, and then revising them at their own whim and fancy."
Urmila has just returned from a very satisfying schedule of Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi's Pinjar (based on a novel of the same name by Amrita Pritam).
The joy of being part of a project that recreates a chunk of history in a tongue that is authentic and homespun bubbles over as she speaks, "Whether it is the costumes or the way the director has recreated the period during the Partition, there is something very special about the film."
So how did Urmila end up doing the conceptual song-and-dance appearance in Company? "First of all, it is not an item song AT ALL. The other number Khallas [performed by Isha Koppikar and set to tune by Sandeep Chowta] is an item number.
"Mine is a very different kind of song and dance, which Ramuji thought only I could do justice to. He requested me to do the number. Since I had two days free between my schedule, I readily obliged. That's it. Where does all this comeback and camp business fit into this professional arrangement?"
Urmila's conceptual number appears with the credit titles of Company. "So anyone interested in watching me had better be in their seats well on time," she quips.
After Chamma chamma [composed by Anu Malik] in China Gate, Urmila received innumerable offers to do item songs. Urmila turned them all down.
She looks back at the Chamma chamma experience. "When [director] Raj Kumar Santoshi came to me with the song, he had said, 'People remember the song Hothon pe aisi baat in Jewel Thief, because of Vyjayanthimala's dancing. The same will be true of your Chamma.' I was amazed by his confidence. It was my job then to take the song to the heights he wanted."
The song is now part of director Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge, and is internationally recognised. "Is it?" Urmila laughs. "Well, I guess somewhere, Ramuji must have thought I am the only one who could carry off the Company number. Though I am associated in the public mind with glamorous songs and dances, my appearance in Company is in no way glamorous. Rather than rely on my body language, the number zooms in on my facial expressions. Even the choreography is not that important here."
"The song goes way beyond James Bond credit titles, if that's what you're thinking. There, you have a blonde moving sensuously. Here I am required to express so many emotions at the same time. But please, it isn't a proper song. And I certainly don't perform an item.
"In Hindi films there is a definite slot for every character and situation. What I have done in Company can't be defined. For want of a better term, people are calling it an item song. Believe me, what I have done in Company has never been attempted before."
Meanwhile, the actress has received rave reviews for her performance in her two forthcoming films: Anees Bazmi's Deewaangi and Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi's Pinjar. And talks are on for major heroine-centric projects, including Ashok Pandit's hard hitting film on Kashmiri migrants.
As for Ram Gopal Varma films, even when Urmila is not in the film in person, she is present in spirit. Those who have seen portions of Varma's Road swear Antara Mali has been projected and presented exactly like Urmila.
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