'I broke into Hindi cinema with Tere Mere Sapne and the song Aankh Mare become a big hit.'
'And now that song has become a rage again in Simmba.'
After working successfully in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films, Simran Bagga plays Rajinikanth's love interest in his new blockbuster Petta.
"Audiences are happy that Simran is seen with Thalaiva for the first time and they look so good together. I may not have much footage, but it is rare for an actress my age to be given such a glamorous role," Simran tells Subhash K Jha.
We have known each other for 15 years. How have you managed to not age in all this time?
(Laughs) Arrey nahin. I am just trying to eat, sleep and live well.
It is more about feeling good than looking good.
It's not easy after two children.
After my second child, I had to lose a lot of weight.
It wasn't easy, but once you decide you need to look after yourself -- not to look good, but to be healthy -- it becomes easier.
What was it like working with Rajinikanth for the first time?
He is a such simple, humble, down-to-earth person.
He is my superhero.
I am so glad that I worked with him.
Would you call Petta your comeback film?
It is definitely a comeback of sorts.
It is my first film with Thalaiva and therefore, a big deal for me.
When people say I have a better written role in Petta than Rajini sir's heroines usually have, I am even happier.
Audiences are happy that Simran is seen with Thalaiva for the first time and they look so good together.
I may not have much footage, but it is rare for an actress my age to be given such a glamorous role.
Yes, it is rare for a heroine in a Rajinikanth film to have anything to do except idolise him. It's even rarer for a heroine to be shown as a mother to a grown up child and still have a life of her own.
Yes, that is rare. And my character of a 40-plus, single mother is not something an Indian actress gets to play every day.
I wanted my first film with Rajini sir to be special.
In Petta, I will give full marks to the director (Karthik Subbaraj) for presenting me well, in spite of the limited footage.
The romantic angle between Rajini sir and me has been so well handled.
I'd say the relationship comes across as ageless because of Rajini sir's aura.
It doesn't matter whether he is in his 60s and I am in my 40s, it is only the beauty of their compatibility that shines through.
Looking at the film as a member of the audience, I liked seeing this pair.
Audiences wanted to see more of you in Petta.
Even I wanted more of me in the film.
But in a two hour, 50 minute film, there is so much to say. I am glad I got my space.
Would you say Indian cinema is not a comfortable place for actresses above 40, especially if they are married and have children?
Being a wife or a mother or 40 should not be the criteria for a heroine to get a role.
I am very proud to be a wife and a mother -- it is an essential part of being a woman -- but these roles must not define my professional decisions.
It becomes easier to balance one's personal responsibilities with one's profession when you have a supportive family.
I feel I have the freedom to do what I want to do, to play the roles I want to play.
There is no burning compulsion to be in front of the camera after so many years in the profession.
If I like a role, I'll do it.
Yes, I may make the wrong career decisions here and there, but I am not afraid to fail.
You have done films in four languages.
Yes, I broke into Hindi cinema with Tere Mere Sapne and the song Aankh Mare become a big hit.
And now that song has become a rage again in Simmba. I feel very happy about this.
I began with Hindi cinema, then moved to Malayalam cinema, where I played a role opposite Mammoothy sir.
Then I did films in Tamil and Telugu.
For me, just waiting for Hindi cinema to happen was not a major craving. Tamil and Telugu cinema were equally exciting.
I mean I was in school dancing to Prabhu Deva's Muqabla and then, before I knew it, I was doing a film with him!
I went on to work with stalwarts like Mani Ratnam and Kamal Haasan.
And now so many years later, I'm working with Rajini sir.
It has been a fulfilling journey.
Where do you see yourself today?
You mean in Indian cinema? Everywhere.
The language barriers have broken completely.
Who sees Baahubali as a Telugu film?
I never waited for Hindi films to happen to my career.
If there were more of Tamil and Telugu films in my career, I was happy with that.
I took breaks during my pregnancies and came back.
I also did anchoring on television.
At this point in my career, I am looking at roles that make an impact, not make audiences wonder why I'm there.
I want to do good work with competent directors, with dependable producers.
I never did the two-song-two-dance roles before, why would I do it now?
Are you being selective about your work then?
Yes, but not necessarily limited work.
I can do more than one film.
My home is perfectly looked after, I have given my children a lot of time.
There is no guilt about getting back to work.
I am Mumbai-based. I used to travel regularly to Chennai, which is my second home.
I used to shoot in Chennai for 15 days every month with my children when they were small. Now I can travel without them. They don't need me around all the time.