'We will prove our star pair!'
The Dream Girl is back with Amitabh Bachchan
Subhash K Jha
It was said that during the 1970s and 1980s, Hema Malini was the only 'female' actor who could sell a film to the distributors on announcement. One of Indian cinema's true female superstars has been shying away from the camera for several years now.
After a not-so-successful directorial attempt in Dil Aashna Hai, the actress was last seen as Akshaye Khanna's mother in his debut film Himalayaputra.
Now Hema Malini is back in a film costarring the star of the millennium Amitabh Bachchan. Baghban produced by the illustrious B R Chopra [maker of such films as Naya Daur, Sadhna and Dhool Ka Phool], and directed by his son Ravi Chopra (of Aaj Ki Awaaz), is currently being shot at a Mumbai studio.
Taking a break from her dialogues, Hema's face lights up with that million-dollar smile. "The reason I have shied away [from films] is the lack of meaty roles. I have been getting offers, but none were remotely appealing. Even now it is not as though I am coming back to films or anything. I will just do this one film and then return to my other activities."
But would her fans not be disappointed when they see Hema as a senior citizen? "I am playing my age. I am no more young. So there is no harm in playing an elderly role. Besides, the film revolves around Amitji and my character. The rest of the cast comprises actors from Indian television serials. I don't even know their names. I just know them as my sons and daughters-in-law."
Remind her that the Bachchan-Malini pair never created chemistry and she quips, "But that is because we never had a really outstanding story to do. We only did commercial masala. For instance, Naseeb  was taken over by the male actors [Shatrughan Sinha and Amrish Puri]. No one [filmmaker] used our pairing well, except maybe in Satte Pe Satta , which was nice in the first half. In the second half, the focus shifted elsewhere.
"Now," she adds, "Baghban is our opportunity to prove our star pair. The whole story is about how we love each other even after 40 years of marriage."
Though she is working with Bachchan after many years, Hema finds no difference in their working relationship. "He is still the same, very hard-working and great fun to shoot with. He is very funny and sweet. I am very comfortable working with him."
Playing an elderly role is not new to Hema. Even at the prime of her career, she starred as a mother in Dard with Rajesh Khanna. "Baghban will be over in three months. But I will not work in any more films even if I get more offers unless it is something really outstanding."
Hema says she agreed to do Baghban on popular request. "A lot of fans said they wanted to see me again. Baghban is for them. I like my role. I am not playing a teenger. I feel comfortable playing mother to sons in this films."
The proud mother talks happily about her daughter Esha. "She is a little upset that her new film Kya Dil Ne Kahaa [in which Esha starred opposite Tusshar Kapoor], has not fared well."
Tell her Esha is better than her mother in emotional scenes and Hema laughs. "But please, I do not want anyone to compare us. It is not fair. Now she is doing a film for Pantaloon, which introduces Sanjay Khan's son and is directed by [cameraman-turned-director] Santosh Sivan's brother Sangeeth. I hope it succeeds."
'This film is for my million fans': Hema