'I am a typical South Mumbai girl and didn’t know how to do latkas and thumkas. Whenever I would dance, I would shake my shoulders, not my hips.'
Mandira Bedi looks back.
We continue our special series on Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Hindi cinema's longest-running film that will complete 1,000 weeks on December 12.
But the shooting wasn't always fun. Mandira tells Sonil Dedhia/ Rediff.com about the nightmarish time she had on the sets.
On DDLJ completing 1,000 weeks
When I look back at the movie, I sometimes laugh at myself. My role was so small. In today’s times, it looks like a blink and miss kind of a role. (laughs)
But it was an honour to be a part of DDLJ.
How she became a part of DDLJ
I had completed two months of working on the show Shanti, the first daily soap on Indian television. The series created a stir and my character of a fierce and upright woman was appreciated.
My parents had moved to Delhi and I was staying with relatives in South Mumbai.
One day, I got a call from Karan Johar. We knew him well, through family connections. He told me that my character Shanti had become very popular, and that Yash Chopra’s son Aditya would like me to play a small role in his film. He told me that the film was starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, and my character was a young girl who falls in love with Shah Rukh.
Growing up, I was never into Hindi films but I knew Yash Chopra and his beautiful films. I would watch them on a regular basis. So I agreed to be a part of DDLJ.
Working with the Chopras
Working with the Chopras was fantastic. It was like a family set-up.
Everyone was given equal importance on the sets. If there was a vanity van for Shah Rukh, there would be an equally beautiful van for me.
Food was very important on the sets (laughs), and we were fed the best.
Working with Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan
I had always heard that Kajol was a firebrand. I had been warned against her. It was also said that two actresses cannot be friends.
But Kajol turned out to be so friendly and indulgent. We share a great bond even today. When I launched my line of saris, she bought some of them.
DDLJ was my debut movie, and Shah Rukh made me feel so special.
There is a scene in the film where we are playing antakshari and I have to feel shy because Shah Rukh holds my hand by mistake, as he thinks Kajol is sitting next to him. It was so difficult, and I told Adi that.
Shah Rukh had to practise the scene so many times so that I could get my expressions right (laughs).
Shooting for Mehndi laga ke rakhna was a nightmare because that was the first thing that I shot for the movie. I am a typical South Mumbai girl and I didn’t know how to do latkas and thumkas. Whenever I would dance, I would shake my shoulders, not my hips (laughs).
I am sure our choreographer Saroj Khan must have looked up to me as a gone case!
I shot for 20 days and that was the most nervous time in my life.
Karan helped me rehearse those moves. One afternoon, he called me home for lunch and taught me how to shake my hips.
Why DDLJ is relevant even today
DDLJ has all the right ingredients to make it relevant today. It was a complete package. I don’t think a film like DDLJ will look outdated for another 1,000 weeks.