The last time we saw you on the big screen, in a Bollywood movie, was in the 2011-film Tell Me O Kkhuda, which was directed by your mother. After that, you stepped away from films. What inspired you to make a comeback after a gap of 10 years?
One can’t make creative people sit at home for too long. Acting is that one thing that keeps me going. I left the field in 2011 because starting a family at that age was my priority. I enjoyed that phase of my life. When I was working, I had no time to date. It was only when I got married to Bharat that I experienced love. Otherwise, I was just a tomboy. My co-stars used to make fun of my hands. They would say,
tere haath ki padegi toh malum padega sabko (laughs!). That was the kind of rapport I shared with my male co-stars. It was Bharat who changed me. We dated for a year before we got married. It was during that phase that I started investing time in getting dressed, wearing beautiful clothes, stilettos and going out for romantic dinners. It was Bharat who guided me through it. He knew me from my school and college days, so there was a good understanding between us. The last 10 years have been magical, and it took away my attention from a lot of things (smiles). Thankfully, I am in good shape today and work is coming my way. I felt this was the right time to get back in front of the camera, as a set feels like home to me, and I love it there.
From your earlier stint in Bollywood, what were the learnings that you think will be helpful this time around?
When I started out, I was very young. The one thing I have learnt is that you need to be thick-skinned to sustain in showbiz. If you are from the industry, right from your first film, you are compared to your parents, who have such a large repertoire of work behind them, and that gets to you. It is not as easy as it’s been made out to be. Everyone goes through their struggles. In my way, I have dealt with it. What is important is that everyone works hard to achieve their goals. Life’s no fun without any hard work.
How have your friends from the industry reacted to your comeback? What do you have to say about the new breed of actors and how the industry functions today?
All my friends – Ajay (Devgn), Abhishek (Bachchan), Tusshar (Kapoor) – are very happy. They have been very encouraging. I am happy to be making a comeback as an actor with Ajay (for an OTT show). We have done around seven films together and have always shared a great rapport. Even back then, he guided me through many situations. I am grateful that filmmakers are reaching out to me with interesting scripts. OTT platforms have helped us move away from stereotypes. Overall, for an actor, it is a great time to do good work. Everyone performs so well today… even the newcomers look so seasoned and well-prepared. There is so much time spent on prep before a film goes on the floor. This wasn’t the case earlier. Today, there is an entourage that’s putting their time and energy to ensure that you are up to the mark. It is definitely not a one-man show anymore. As for me, I have worked hard before taking this step. I have shed my post-pregnancy weight. I am excited to work with the new set of filmmakers.
You are also getting into production with your husband, who isn’t from a film background. How is it working with him in the professional space?
Bharat is my constant support in whatever I do. It is nice to have your life partner as your colleague. He understands the creative part of a project, the technicalities and choosing the right scripts. He watches a lot of films and shows, so he has a good understanding of content as an audience, which helps him pick the right scripts, while I see projects from an actor’s point of view.
Have your daughters Radhya and Miraya watched your films or parent’s movies? How do they react when they see you on screen?
They enjoy watching my song
Dilbara from the film
Dhoom. They make me play it and dance to it. They also like the song
Arey Zindagi Hai Khel from
Seeta Aur Geet
a, which starred my parents. They get excited when they see their
nani walking the rope and their
nanu doing a summersault in the song.