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“Something like Maatr really comes to your way when you want to quench your thirst of being an actor” – Raveena Tandon

Photo Credit: Supplied

Raveena Tandon was last seen in a cameo in ‘Bombay Velvet’ (2015), can now be seen in a full-fledged role in the recently released ‘Maatr’, which deals with the sensitive issue of rape and is touted as her comeback movie. A National Award winner, a succesful and talented actress, a mother and a wife, Raveena who made her debut opposite Salman Khan in ‘Patthar Ke Phool’ (1991), has been receiving rave reviews for her performance as a mother and a school teacher in this thriller. Here are excerpts from the interview.

Critics have praised your performance in ‘Maatr’ and described it as ‘hard-hitting’. Does it feel good to be appreciated after so much hard work?
Yes of course and that too, after such a long time. It feels amazing to read all kind of reviews that I have been getting, the kind of appreciation and the accolades that are coming my way. At the moment, I am on top of the world.

You won the the National Film Award for Best Actress for your performance in Kalpana Lajmi’s ‘Daman: A Victim of Marital Violence’ (2001), where you played a battered wife to an abusive husband. How do you get into the skin of such characters?
To be very honest, playing a mother was not really hard. But yes, going through horrific incidents we had to portray, that was the tough and disturbing part, which I took as a challenge as an actor and to do the role with conviction. That was something which was challenging to me.

What did motherhood teach you?
Motherhood just opens a whole new world to you. It teaches you compassion, caring and your emotions completely go to a different level. The fact that the minute the baby comes into your hand, you want to protect it from the whole world. You start caring about where the world is. When you are single and carefree, what is happening around the world does not bother you so much but now, it is because what you can think of, is about protecting your kids.

You were one of the most successful actresses of the ’90s. How do you define success for your children?
I will always teach them what my father probably taught me. He said material success is great if it comes to you, you work hard for it but what one must try is to become one of the most successful human beings and to be kind, compassionate and caring. This is what I would describe success to my children.

You haven’t done a movie in the past nine years. What has changed in Bollywood in those nine years?
There has been a lot more professionalism that has come in. Today cinema has brought this new horizon, we have different kind of movies and various subjects are being made. It is just delightful to see that everyone gets a great opportunity. I think it is the greatest time for Indian actors today in Indian cinema because of the kinds of films we are making, inspirational and heroic stories that are being made on women and on burning issues.

How did you decide ‘Maatr’ was the right script for your comeback movie?
I was always waiting for a film that would touch me deeply in my heart. I know that ‘Maatr’ the film has a very strong social message, not a commercial glossy film that we are looking at super box office success. It is a film with a strong message. It is a very small, inexpensive, realistically-made film but it has such a strong message. It definitely touched me and this was the movie I definitely wanted to do.

You play a pivotal role in Onir’s ‘Shab’. Can you share something about that film?
It is a kind of a triangle love story character that I am playing, with a young boy who is in love with me and I do not reciprocate. Then he falls in love with someone else. From there, the story starts and continues.

What is your best memory on the sets of ‘Andaz Apna Apna’?
‘Andaz Apna Apna’ was a fun film – there are so many scenes that we can almost feel laughing. We had so much fun shooting that film. And it has been a great experience. There are so many moments where we were playing pranks on each other and we were having fun and fights. It was fun galore and you can see that come across in the film. Unfortunately at that time the film was released, it didn’t do well but today, it is considered a cult classic. I think that this is something which is a great pleasant surprise.

Does your husband Anil Thadani, a prominent film distributor, gives you advice on the kind of roles you should pick?
Yes, he does. In fact, he is very happy that I did a film like ‘Maatr’ and probably not films which would be more commercially inclined. He is very proud that I picked up a film like ‘Maatr’. He said that I should not be bothered about the number game anymore. And I believe in that. I believe everyone has their time, everyone peaks at a certain time and there is always time and place for the new. Something like ‘Maatr’ really comes to your way when you want to quench your thirst of being an actor. And not so worried about whether there should be item songs or it should be a glossy film, it should have comedy or something. The critical acclaim that ‘Maatr’ has got has been amazing and even audiences are loving the film. That is a great feeling to have.

You have worked with Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan. Are you still in touch with them? Why or why not?
Yes I am still in touch with them socially or when we bump into each other. Honestly, everyone is working or is out and it is not so easy like every week. But yes, at parties, releases and somewhere or the other, we are all meeting each other and keeping in touch.

You have a lot of musical hits to your credit, as melody was prevalent in the ’90s. In your opinion, what is missing in today’s music?
In my opinion, I don’t think anything is really missing. In fact, I think music is becoming even bigger and bigger. For example, I love “Kar Gayi Chull” from ‘Kapoor and Sons’. Besides the fact, it is such a catchy song and it has been added to my list of favourite songs now!

Shilpa Shetty has her own production house now. If she approaches you for a meaty role in one of her projects, would you accept it?
We have all grown up and we have moved on. I never had a problem with her at all. Shilpa and me were never rivals, so to speak, whether in a personal life or professional life. Let me put that again, we were never rivals in personal life. It was long gone and everything was long over. I keep reading a lot of these and where is all of this coming from. There is not even a connection. Shilpa is a very dear friend and in fact, she also tweeted about ‘Maatr’. I go for her whatever endeavours she has coming out. We are in fact very good friends. If she does approach me, why not.

In your career, describe your most challenging role, you have ever played.
‘Maatr’ is the most challenging one. I used to think ‘Satta’.

What is the most important thing to you in life?
I believe everyone should live their life to the fullest. As far as I am concerned, films are part of my life. There are many many more parts to my life, than just besides films. I want to live every part of my life and live it well. Whether it is my family, my friends, my parents or my work. I want to give all my 100% and I want to enjoy it.

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