How is it like, the whole journey of shooting a film, promoting it, talking about it? How was the experience?
A. It feels great, it’s a little tiring, but nevertheless it is filled with excitement because the film is going to release soon.
Q. Do you believe it is the coming back into the film industry, and signing projects you really want to do?
A. There has been a gap, people haven’t seen me for a while, so they call it a comeback. I don’t mind this, but yes I intended to do very selective films, very selective scripts. There will be little me, but hope whatever my audience, my fans get to see they will appreciate that.
Q. Tell us something about your upcoming movie Dear Maya?
A. Dear Maya is about this lady who has a lot to settle from 30-40 years in haveli and there is a young curious girl who is her neighbour. This girl keeps seeing her. This young girl has a best friend and they both plan to give a love letter to this lady because they want to change and to bring some lightheartedness to the dark space that lady is into. So they play a prank with her and that backfires and the story is about how the lives of these young girls go for a topsy-turvy and the kind of turmoil and the guilt they go through. The whole process is that Maya Devi believes in this love letter and goes on to search that love and what all happens to her and she suddenly disappear and because of that the lives of these girls get affected out of the guilt and how they mature in that process and become women.
Q. In your real life you’re a positive person and in reel life your character Maya Devi is leading a sad and lonely life. What was the preparation for this character?
A. I had to get into the skin of Maya Devi and had to understand what kind of trauma a woman can go through that she has so much of fear which blocks her up for such a long time. So Sunaina has figured it out because she is a writer and the creator of this script. We sat and went to the whole psychology of this lady Maya. After getting the hang of the mindset of this woman we then sat on the appearance and looks she would have which was created by a stylist and the costume designer and then we created this woman.
Q. What was the reason behind taking this character?
A. I haven’t played a character like this before, it’s totally new to me and hence more challenging. That’s why I took this up.
Q. Is there any similarity between Manisha Koirala and Maya Devi?
A. Not really. Maya Devi is too traumatised, too bombed down and has a lot of fear. But I am different—life may have thrown many challenges at me, but I don’t think that I got so bombed down in my life.
Q. How was the experience working with youngsters?
A. Brilliant! They are so hard working and so focused. I love today’s generation for this go getting attitude. They have brains, they have aspirations, and they are dedicated and highly professional.
Q. What do you feel about social media as it’s a very easy medium to connect with your fans?
A. It’s a great platform and I think it can be used for really positive things and it should be used only for this. It’s just that it’s too time consuming for an old school like me. So I have a team of people who help me in this, still I don’t know many things about it.
Q. As you said it is a positive thing, it shouldn’t become a negative one. There are people who like to become trolls and criticise just for the sake of it. So what is your advice to people who are trolling and who get trolled, should they ignore that?
A. I think first of all, people should be responsible but there is a negative and positive in society, always, so we’ll have to somehow learn to deal with the negatives and the best thing that works for me is that, I block them.
Q. You are playing a lonely character in the film. A number of people in the country has to undergo this trouble. There are a lot of people whose kids leave them and so do you feel it is showing reality in a way?
A. Absolutely! I think loneliness is very common in our society, everywhere and in the world. The film tackles one or two scenes, I don’t want to talk about those but you do see that. It’s quite a common thing. But this story mainly is about hope and finding love and never losing hope actually.
Q. For Manisha Koirala, what does love mean?
A. Love is the source of our life. It is the core of this universe. So it fills joy, it fills everything.
Q. You once said you had a “dreamy idea of marriage.” What was that about, what were you thinking when you said that?
A. When you are young, you always have that “dreamy idea’” especially girls do have it. They always have that dreamy, beautiful picture of walking down the aisle in that white gown and getting married in that beautiful big wedding. Girls growing up have this beautiful picture of marriage, but marriage is not that hunky-dory in real life. So I mean that.
Q. Hitting Friday do you still get butterflies in your stomach? So many films down, so many releases.
A. Absolutely, yes. Because with so much love and passion we have made this film, so we are anxious. We want the audience to like it, like the hard work and appreciate our work.
Q. Speaking about promotions, you have been in the industry at that time when promotions didn’t play such a key role. And you have also done it in the past. So what are your thoughts about promotions, about the marketing tour?
A. It is the need of the hour and I hope it works because probably it is more hard work than making the film. But I think it is part of the job now.
Q. You have been breaking your routine as well (for the promotions and film).
A. Yes. I think I need to get back into my healthy routine very soon. Because it has been pretty hectic and there has been no breather for me.
Q. Could you talk about the differences you see in the contemporary film industry to that of the Bollywood back then when you started out?
A. Loads. I love the fact that today, this generation, especially the girls are bolder. They don’t shy away, they don’t get bogged down. There were too many rules for us earlier and today the girls are demanding equal pay and equal rights. I am very happy for today’s generation and I support all this.
Q. You are working with Sunaina Bhatnagar. She is the first woman director you had worked with in your entire career. So any more dream directors you’d like to work with?
A. So many, like Imtiaz Ali, Anurag Kashyap, Anurag Basu. All the young generation good directors I’d like to work with.
Q. Are you the director’s actor? Does your performance differ when you work with a good director and an average director?
A. I am totally a director’s actor. I depend on my director a lot.
Q. You are doing a film with Rajkumar Hirani in the Sanjay Dutt biopic. Are you enjoying it so far?
A. Very much, loving it. I loved working with Rajkumar Hirani, he is a great guy to work with.
Q. Will you be taking a break after this (Sanjay Dutt biopic)? You have been very active.