'Madhuri caught me staring at her'
Tiku Talsania, beholder of beauty, caretaker of Devdas
Familiar name. Forgettable roles.
But Devdas might change all that.
The poor man's favourite comedian is cast in a serious role as Shah Rukh Khan's caretaker.
Says the actor, "I signed Devdas because it was a good role. Most comedians crave to do serious roles. I am no different. I get tired of being laughed at all the time. My role in Devdas is more definite. The day I signed it, I went to my wife and said, 'It's a role that will get me noticed."
Almost unwilling to make a big deal about his role, he says self-deprecatingly, "I have a reasonable role, but how many stay in the film depends on the director. He is really God. His vision matters most. I know I enjoyed working in this film. If I could, I would do it again!"
On his role:
Bhansali called me and told me it was a role with scope to perform. I believe Prakash Kapadia (the scriptwriter) whom I had worked with in a Gujarati film, recommended me for the film. I play Dharamdas, Shah Rukh Khan's caretaker. I am a happy-go-lucky man, who adores Devdas.
I have two poignant scenes with Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai, where I realise I have to do something for this man who is about to kill himself by drowning his sorrow in alcohol.
The rehearsals, the readings and shooting only between night and twilight made the atmosphere conducive and more intense.
My family was stunned when I walked out of the house at 2 am to shoot. When I saw the frames while dubbing, I was stunned. The sets were so beautiful. In fact, I dubbed well because of the hypnotising flow of what I would see before me.
On director Sanjay Leela Bhansali:
He is a perfectionist. He pushes you until he extracts the best out of you. But he is patient and gives you all the time in the world. Despite the fact that we shot only nights, he didn't rush us. Our life on the sets was completely planned, with different teams working in tandem. It was completely unlike the chaos that exists on a usual set. The moment a shot was finished at one place, the team would shift to another part of the set. No one interfered with another's work.
When we shot the last scene of Devdas on a train, Sanjay looked so relaxed. Most directors are harried and have worry lines. He just said, "I am satisfied. I have made a great film!" Even while we were shooting, he would never be worried, no matter what problems he was undergoing.
Sanjay is a go-getter. He will not let his film sink so easily.
He is very generous with compliments. He told me after I had finished dubbing for Devdas "You are the only actor I know who is not conscious of the microphone. I wish I had more scenes with you in the film."
On Aishwarya and Madhuri:
They are gorgeous. Especially Madhuriji. When I first saw her on the sets of Devdas. I was stunned. She had just returned from her honeymoon and she was looking even more beautiful. She looked at me and said, "Why are you staring at me so much?"
I just smiled and said, "You are looking stunning Ma'am!"
Aishwarya is a fantastic actress. Smita Jayakar who played her mother in HDCCS narrated how the scene where she finds out that Salman is leaving (shot on the swing in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam), was improvised by the two of them [Smita and Aishwarya].
On Shah Rukh Khan:
Khan is one of the finest actors of our time. He has a never-die spirit that remains intact from Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. He will do the shot till he gets it right no matter what happens. I do not think anybody can be as accommodating as him. He is very generous. If as a costar you do not think your take is good enough he will redo it for you.
For me, this is his best work. I wonder whether you will get to see him in another role like this --- it was such a challenging role for him.
Shahkhan [my nickname for him] has poured his blood and sweat in this film. I found him drinking before a shot --- you know, he does not drink --- and I asked him why.
He said, "I am supposed to be the world's greatest alcoholic and drunk. I am drinking so that I can see the inebriation and intoxication in my eyes!"
On Devdas's relevance today:
As Indians, it is in our psyche to cry when somebody else is unhappy. This popcorn generation is extremely sensitive and wants these kinds of films that make their eyes go moist! Devdas is that story --- the eternal triangle, suitably packaged and well-equipped with star power.
Besides, it is a very logically made film. It does not have scenes plucked out of nowhere. What makes this film brilliant is its story.
Love has always been the default of Bollywood. Only this time Devdas is a love story that will make our audiences cry.
ALSO READ: The Devdas Special