In a candid comversation with Chitrangada Singh speaks about her role in Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3, working with Sanjay Dutt and juggling between duties of a mom and actress-producer. Excerpts:
How does it feel to be a part of the Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster franchise? How was it working with Tigmanshu Dhulia?
There is no other franchise like this one when it comes to the story and characters. Well, Tigmanshu and I were supposed to work in Haasil, which was his first film as a director. I met him in Delhi in 1999. However, things did not work out then. He was in Delhi moving to Mumbai and I wasn’t ready to shift to this city. So, it did not materialise. Tigmanshu is a writer, dialogue writer, director and actor, which makes working with him a totally different experience for any actor.
You are romancing Sanjay Dutt in the film…
He has such a strong presence on screen. Just give him one kamal ka dialogue and the film becomes much stronger. Sanjay Dutt’s personality is very larger-than-life, it’s like I have seen him growing up and he has been this rockstar all through. When you see his scenes on the monitor, you understand how he transforms on screen. His personality does half the job. I won’t say I was intimidated by him because he is a very friendly and warm person. He knows he has this persona so he makes that little more effort to be friendly with everyone. I have seen college boys imitating his walk, his swag and here I got to romance the original man himself. It was a little fan-girl moment. He is truly a lovely person.
You have spoken about how you did not get good roles in Bollywood, which kind of made you shift towards writing and production…
It was not like I was not getting parts, I was not getting the kind of stuff I wanted to do. I was getting these bold roles of a hot woman or seductress or I would get the emancipated woman parts in the feminist zone of the typical avenging angle. I was not interested in doing them and would rather wait. Moreover, I was travelling a lot and could not give much priority to work in the period of 2014-15. I had started writing much earlier. I would scribble stuff in my notebook. There is a new idea in every third page. So, I had these three ideas that really excited me and I began working on the same. It got so much exciting after a point. I have three scripts locked now.
Do you feel that despite the wave of radical cinema, Bollywood is still orthodoxin its outlook?
Well, any change takes time, but yes, there is a definite change. The success of Raazi is a great example! There are many small content-driven films that have done well in recent past but it is a slow change. Then, all said and done, a film is a huge investment and we need to look at the business side. Filmmakers are taking certain risks and they will get bigger as their confidence grows. We have to consider that someone’s hard-earned money is invested in a film. The success of Raazi is very heart-warming. Talking about stereotypes, the industry is a reflection of society. People love some kind of films, which is why they get made again and again.
Whether it is Priyanka Chopra promoting regional cinema or Anushka Sharma making a Pari, women producers seem to be bigger risk-takers than their male counterparts…
I don’t like this man and woman distinction. Being a first-time producer is a tough whether it is a man or woman. You will get questioned. Once you have made your mark like Ekta Kapoor or Rhea Kapoor have done, it is different. I don’t know if women producers are more progressive but I feel as a woman you have a greater emotional quotient. You are naturally inclined towards stories that connect emotionally. Soorma had nothing to do with the gender. It is about a sportsman who devotes his life for the Indian blazer. In India, a cricketer missing a century is a huge topic of discussion but there are many who do not get that kind of recognition. The fact that no one knew about Sandeep Singh’s story and were comfortable with being ignorant moved me to make Soorma. It is not about being a man or woman. The emotion is totally different.
When will Bazaar release?
The makers are looking at a September release, so hopefully we will see the film.
You are known as this dusky beauty. Did you ever feel that your looks led to you being typecast?
Yes, thoda typecast hota hai but I don’t think skin complexion has anything to do with it. I had a distinctly different role in first film. Post that, I played western urban characters and people were like she also wears these type of clothes. C’mon, I don’t wake up and sleep in cotton sarees. I feel the identity your first film creates is a strong one and it takes time to get out of it. I did too many urban roles to break that image.
How do you manage to juggle being a mom along with your commitments as an actor and producer?
I try and do my best (laughs out loud). Yes, there are some not so absolutely perfect days but I consider myself a lot more fortunate than many working moms who have a regular job. I choose my time, my work and schedules. I don’t think I can be someone who is constantly busy.
Did your son like Soorma?
Yes, he liked it. He never played hockey but wants to buy a hockey stick now. He was very fascinated by the shooting incident. He was like where did the bullet actually hit him. Actually, it was stuck between Sandeep Singh’s kidney and stomach in the intestine. If it went through, it would have been fatal.
You are pretty laid-back in this era of excessive PR and social media…
Good work has always worked. PR is important. I did not have a PR representative for four years or so. When you have something to say, you need to get the right people in place. In this entertainment clutter, it is tough to get visible, so you need the right machinery around you.
Has the studio system been a welcome change for first time producers like you?
It has given first-timers a lot of confidence and we will see more people venturing into production. Everything is systematic and easy to understand. Otherwise, one would have to make known people sit at every ticket window. Sony Pictures did a great job with Soorma’s marketing and distribution.