Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is a busy bee. She doesn't even have the time to celebrate the success of ENDHIRAN as she has two back-to-back releases coming up- ACTION REPLAYY and GUZAARISH. Catch her in a freewheeling chat as she speaks about ACTION REPLAYY, working with Akshay Kumar, Vipul Shah and more.
Which moments of your life would you want to watch again in ACTION REPLAYY? I have got memories. So, I can rewind them in my mind. I'm very grateful to have got so many good roles in my career. It's a blessing that I've so many amazing experiences. I don't need to go back and re-experience any of them. Also, it's interesting how my life is coming a full circle. In the last two years, I've worked again in almost the same series with the same directors I worked with in my first year. Mani Ratnam, Shankar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. One more filmmaker has spoken to me who is in the same series. It's unbelievable!
How was the experience working with Vipul Shah and Akshay Kumar? Vipul Shah and Akshay Kumar's combination everyone knows. Vipul was very clear on the film he was making. It's based on a play that he had made several years ago. He was very clear on the narrative. We did improvise, but not that much. Akshay had a hard time. He always wanted to bring something else and change the dialogues. He used to tell Vipul, 'Sirji, main yeh karma
'I'm not a puppet'
chahta hoon. Sirji, aap dekhiye, kamal ka punch rahega'. All that would happen and we used to fool around. Sometimes Vipul would allow it and sometimes he wouldn't. But Akshay is great fun to work with as an actor. He makes it all look very light. Perhaps, he has got the gift to do that naturally. But as a professional I know there is thought going into it. He's working for so many years. He's a committed professional. He knows exactly what he is doing in the scene, and that's fantastic.
Did the combination of Vipul and Akshay made you do the film? No, it just happened this way. I have not based my career on co-stars or camps or any of that. You have got my body of work to validate that. It just worked out that way. Vipul and Akshay had approached me for ACTION REPLAYY. I couldn't do that film at that time as I was working overseas. Akshay used to tease me 'Aapko to bhargaon jaake kaam karna hai'. That wasn't true. I just didn't have the dates. Now, the same combination has come again. That makes me smile.
How have you tried to get the retro look right? We have played attention to the nuances. Like my character is very boisterous and tomboyish in the beginning of the film and then she becomes mellow and more feminine. In that, we have spoofed it in the acting style of that time. Like if she is coy, then how she plays with the dupatta. It was great fun to do that as actors. It's not a throw away role. You put thought even in the way she giggles or when she scowls. We had fun doing that together.
ACTION REPLAYY is a retro film. So did you follow any heroine from the past to get you character right? It's not that I particularly sat and watched movies. We are actors but we are part of the audience too. As Indians, we love our movies. The movies back then had a very special place. Films were viewed differently. During our childhood days Sunday movies was an event. They became more precious as they were rare. Today, you see movies so often. You can see them on TV or DVDs easily. Movies of that era are etched in our memories in a special way. And there isn't really one particular actor that we have followed. In terms of visual styling, make-up, hair and costume, there are lots of actresses from that time. But in terms of nuances of my character Mala, there isn't one particular actress of that time. It's a collage of different actresses which came from memory. And we have also spoofed it up as my character is a bit in the face.
You are playing a very young and bubbly character after a long time. How was it being young again? I have always said age is a state of mind. You should have fun doing what you do. That's what needs to translate. Pa (Amitabh Bachchan) is super young till date and he's an example of that. If it connects with the audience, it's a film and a role accepted. It's not necessarily compartmentalized into young, old, current and so on and so forth. In terms of a vivacious and bubbly character, yes, I have in the past done a lot more intense character driven stories and films in a large part of my career. And that's why these kind of 'typical heroine' kind of roles are few and far in between. That's why they get registered and noticed. I'm happy for that.
Did you do any kind of research to get into the skin of the character? For any of my films, I have never been the one to do some intense research and make notes. I'm not that kind of actor. I'm very clear that the character that I'm playing is what my director has conceived. Then, my director and me are in sync. After that, I will bring my suggestions because I always do. I can't just keep quiet. I'm not a puppet. I'm obviously a person and I have my ideas to contribute. Even as a newcomer, I was never so intimidated that I didn't express myself. I've always done this throughout my career. Thereby, I have a great relationship with all my directors. It's open, it's honest and it's interactive. That's what I call research to make a character in a film. You need to come on as a clean slate, you need to be a sponge and you need to collaborate together. If I did my own thing, I'll be in my own film. Not only that. It's not just actor and director. It's all the other actors in a scene. We all have to be on the same page when we are creating a character or a moment in a scene. That's what films are all about. It's not about individual characters. It's about creating memorable moments; be it comedy, be it serious, be it drama.
What were the difficulties that you had to face for this film? Vipul had hoped to start ACTION REPLAYY earlier. But we were both busy. So it turned out that we had to do it in summer, which was the toughest part of this film. It was right in April and May in Karjat. To do that in mid-summer with all those hair pieces, polyester fabrics and extra make-up was difficult. But it was very thoughtful for Vipul to shoot the night scenes during mid May, when it got really hot during the day.