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'People like fuller women in the south; here they like you to be more toned and fit. So when I went down south they would say ‘You have become thin’ and when I came here they would say ‘Oh you are fat’.'
Humshakals actress Tamannaah talks about her balancing game with the south film industry.
After a dud film like Himmatwala, Tamannaah is acting in another Sajid Khan film called Humshakals.
Even though she is a well-known name down south and has been in the industry for a long time, Bollywood is comparatively new for her.
Patcy N speaks to Tamannaah about what went wrong with Himmatwala, and why she will never wear a bikini.
After Himmatwala, you are working with Sajid once again. What’s your equation with him like?
I think during Himmatwala, there was a lot of pressure because a cult film was being remade.
Sajid was a step away from what he normally does. It was more like a drama film, which he was trying to remake. And I think what particularly went wrong was the 1980s zone, which probably people couldn’t relate to.
Working in Humshakals was different because it’s urban, it’s more today. It’s more his zone because its comedy and its fun and he’s completely natural at it.
What I really like about Humshakals is the fact that he hasn’t tried to repeat, though the framework is more like Housefull.
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Himmatwala didn’t do well, so is there any pressure on doing better with this film?
There is no pressure because once a film is a flop, you have already hit rock bottom. You can only go upwards.
When your film is very successful, you have the pressure to make your next film more successful.
Himmatwala and now Humshakals are both masala films. Are you deliberately selecting such films and maybe taking Asin’s place in Bollywood?
Not really. I’m not doing it consciously.
It is incidental because when I was doing Himmatwala I interacted with Sajid and with the writers, Sajid and Farhad, who are now doing their directorial debut with It’s Entertainment.
They chose to make that kind of film and somehow I like what I am doing in these films.
I am sure that in the near future, I’m going to work in films that are completely different.
I am an actor. My job is to act in different films. As of now, these are the films I have on my plate right now.
You have worked with Ajay Devgn and now Saif and then you have Akshay Kumar. What is it like working with them? How different are they to work with?
It’s amazing. All three of them have been in this industry for about two decades. Although they started their careers at the same time, by nature they are very different people with very different journeys in Bollywood.
What is similar is the brilliance with which they understand the medium and use it to the optimum. Obviously, if you have 20 years of experience you do learn a lot.
Saif has so much experience, but when he works with Sajid, he works with a completely clean slate. He comes on the sets and says, “Okay Sajid, tell me what you want me to do and I will do it."
For me, it is a learning experience to see such an experienced actor saying he will follow the director blindly.
Would you like to work with actors of your generation?
Absolutely. I would like to work with the newer lot, they're brilliant actors.
Are you happy being in a multi-star movie?
Yes. Each one of us has been given our part very clearly.
I am paired opposite the main protagonist, Saif, who has all these problems and then he meets his Humshakals.
In Himmatwala, my portrayal was very dated and very 1980s. But this is a complete makeover of sorts.
I was looking for something that would break my image of being very Indianised. Humshakals has given me that opportunity.
In Himmatwala, you were the only actress, but in Humshakals there are two more actresses, Esha Gupta and Bipasha Basu.
I have worked with Sajid before so I know how he functions. On day one he told me what my role is and how much screen space I have.
He was very honest and upfront about everything.
Although I am new to Bollywood and Bipasha has been in the industry much longer, he was very honest with me and clear about what I was doing. There was no ambiguity in my head and hence no sense of insecurity.
You are playing a veejay in the film. Sajid used to be a veejay. Did he help you?
In fact, I am using the tagline that Sajid would say when he was a show anchor -- it was host and dost. He would enact it to show me how to do it.
You were not very keen on wearing bikini…
I have worn shorts and not a bikini in the film. I have said I will not wear a bikini. I am not comfortable in it.
It is an individual thing. There is no wrong or right about it. At the same time, it’s an urban film so it has to look cool and chic.
How was it romancing Saif?
It is very easy to romance Saif. He is a very adorable person, a charmer. Even if I was not working in this film, he would be warm to me.
If he walks into a room and there are 10 people, he will acknowledge each and every one.
That is a rare trait in any actor. He is extremely secure.
You said that Saif and Kareena Kapoor's is a fairy tale love story.
I met Kareena before we started shooting. We all went out for dinner. She is very warm, and the couple is really sweet.
Theirs is a fairy tale love story. They are so completely into each other. It's good to see two people who are so successful individually, and who when they are together are so good together too.
Like every girl, I really hope there will be something like this in my life too. But nothing as of now because I am too engulfed in my work.
How was your equation with Bipasha?
She was very helpful and very sweet, very unlike the rumours about her that make good print interviews. She was very nice to work with. She would give me all kinds of tips if I needed any.
There were no catfights on the sets.
I will be honest, we did have healthy competition, which was good for the film.
We are three different people, we are not clones of each other so we have to bring our own style to the table, we can’t be like each other.
All the gentlemen have worn drag…
I must tell you they are looking super hot.
They were confident in their outfits and strutted around looking superbly comfortable.
Riteish wore (his wife) Genelia’s skirt! We didn’t fuss so much over our costumes and were okay with whatever they gave us, but they were arguing and they wanted three costume changes.
They enjoyed the drag portions. When you see the song Khol De Dil Ki Khidaki you will see it in the expressions of Saif and Ritesh.
How do you manage working in two film industries?
They are completely different. In the south the films are more in keeping with that culture. Hindi films are more universal. So obviously they cater to two different audiences.
They like fuller women in the south; here they like you to be a little more toned and fit.
So when I went down south they would say ‘You have become thin’ and when I came here they would say ‘Oh you are fat’.
Do you wish you had a godfather in Bollywood?
I don’t think that is necessary. Yes, that can probably give you opportunity, which I got anyway without having a godfather.
Sajid in due course of time has become my mentor. He has faith in my talent. He treats me like his sister.
Do you want to work with the other Khans, Salman, Shah Rukh and Aamir?
I would want to work with the other Khans too. There is no actress in India who doesn’t want to act with the Khans.
What is your role in your next film, It’s Entertainment?
I play a television actress. It’s a comedy. It’s a novel concept of a dog playing the pivotal character in the film.
It's risky to have an animal playing an important role. We thought we would have to depend on computer graphics for the dog's role. But the actual dog was smart and trained and he did most of the things on his own.
Are you satisfied with your career?
I am very comfortable with myself right now. I am working in three other south films that are on the floors and two films are on the verge of release in Bollywood.
I am still new and I have a lot to do. I wouldn’t say I am totally satisfied and happy. I am content but I still have a long way to go.