Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju is on the verge to hit the cinemas and during that we had a pleasant conversation with actor Manisha Koirala who is playing the role of Nargis Dutt in the Dutt’s biopic. The movie is scheduled to be released on June 29.
In an interview with Cinespeaks, Manisha Koirala speaks to us.
Q: What was your first reaction when Rajkumar Hirani offered you this film?
Manisha: Initially I was very nervous looking at my health history and looking at Nargis’s health history. But later on when Hirani sir said that he do not dwell too much into that and when I got to know the entire scene I was very keen and excited. I’m so glad that I did this film.
Q: In the song, “Kar Har Maidan Fateh” the emotions match so exceptionally well. How did you manage to that?
Manisha: When you have such a good director like Hirani half of your hard work is minimized then and there itself. Hirani sir did a thorough research. It gets really easy to work when you have a good setup. I would like to give the credits to Raj sir for the same. And another thing which I would like to mention is the song which is just amazing. Like when I personally heard the song I was so cheered up to shoot for it. And in between they were planning to change it but thank heavens they didn’t.
Q: How well did you know Nargis ji?
Manisha: I didn’t know her at all. I never had a conversation with her. I really got to know her when I started with the research work for the film. Hirani sir had some documentaries to show and then gave me the book to read. But before this I really didn’t knew her.
Q: How do you have to change your acting and your style as you walk over the years and work with new directors?
Manisha: First of all, choosing to work with good directors is the first step. And as I love my work I need to know today’s trend. I don’t wish to stick to the older times. I can’t do what I used to do in my 20s. I need to know what the younger generations are doing. What type of movies they’re doing, quality of their acting, cinema and narrative. So with changing times we should also evolve towards something new. You have to constantly upgrade yourself if you want to keep working
Q: Do you think that the industry is much more professional now then it was earlier?
Manisha: Obviously yes. The Industry is much more professional now and this is a good change. The best thing about this generation is that they’re much focused, they’ve sense of professionalism and there is high competition. Everyone is trying to give their best, be it their figure or fashion or anything else. There is a lot of hard work now then it was earlier. Earlier the cinema was relaxed. People were of forgiving nature. If you do one bad film then they wait for a good film to come but currently there are no chances of doing a bad film because the competition is tough and the bars are high.
Q: Do you miss few things from 90s?
Manisha: Not really. I’m enjoying the current situation. I’m not a type of person who lives in the past.
Q: Your co-actor Ranbir Kapoor is hardly 10 to 12 years younger than you so was it difficult to play a role of his mother?
Manisha: Initially I also thought of something like this on the same lines, but then I realized that I’m not actually playing the role of Manisha here, instead I’m playing the role of Nargis Dutt and even Ranbir is playing the role of Sanjay Dutt. So from that perspective it was fine.
Q: You recently mentioned about changing times from 90s till date. One more thing that gradually changed is the respect for women. Now you can do films like Lust Stories and you get appreciated for that. So are you happy to watch that because you get the liberty to perform new roles?
Manisha: Absolutely I’m very happy. This is the best thing in today’s time that women have actually learnt to speak their mind and even men accepted it and appreciated it. I think this is great aspect of the current generation.
Q: You had worked with Sanjay Dutt on various movies earlier when he was going through his worst phase. How was that experience?
Manisha: Honestly I never had any interaction with him. We just used to talk on sets. And he was always very charming, very friendly and fun loving person. He is the man of heart, he never be calculative while speaking things out. He’ll speak up what he actually feels. Even Rajkumar Hirani didn’t read much about him. He had done many films with him so he actually knew what Sanjay had gone through.
Q: You had worked with Sanjay Dutt very closely in so many movies and now you are working on his Biopic. So did his Biopic shocked you at any point of time?
Manisha: I haven’t watched the movie yet. I just know about my part. But honestly when I saw the trailer I was shocked that he has actually gone through all that. So even I was as clueless as everyone else.
Q: Playing the role of Nargis have you ever felt like being Nargis. Or anyone else made you realize that you look like her?
Manisha: Not actually. Far earlier when my movie Bombay was released at that time Sunil Dutt ji called me and told me that I reminded him of Nargis ji. At that time I was feeling blessed like Nargis is a legendary figure, so for me at that age getting such compliment was a great feeling. I had no clue that years later I’ll be getting an opportunity to act as Nargis.
Q: For a Biopic it is very much necessary that you resemble the character you are playing. So while shooting we observed that you exactly look like her. It was very identical. So during the look test what were your inputs and what was your first reaction?
Manisha: Honestly I’m one of them who don’t know their part unless they get a feedback. I just did my best and I was trying to feel what Nargis ji felt. I didn’t know how well I performed unless I get the feedback. But after getting the positive response I felt so damn good.
Q: Coming from a political family, how much difficult was it for you to get into this industry?
Manisha: In those days getting into Bollywood was not a fair thing for girls. My mom and dad both were against it. Earlier the magazines used to portray the negative side of Bollywood such as casting couch. But my grandmother supported me. She was head of the family and once she supported me none could stop me from entering the industry.
Q: Sanju movie was a well-rehearsed or was it spontaneous?
Manisha: Sanju was a very well-rehearsed movie. Earlier I used to do spontaneous roles but now I prefer a well versed and well-rehearsed roles. And if I want to expand my boundaries then I should be able to completely nail both, method acting as well as spontaneous acting.
Q: In 90s the melody of songs and the acting was really amazing! You guys were legends. Do you think in present times any actress is somewhere near to your level?
Manisha: There are actresses who are really magnificent, I really enjoy Kangna’s acting, Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone. Not superior to us but yeah they’re at our level. They’re really very talented and very hardworking. You can’t take that away from them.
Q: You had struggled a lot with your health problems, you’re an inspiration for the other people you feel that once you get some disease and you’re over. So what you’d like to suggest such people?
Manisha: We Humans have got enormous strength within us. All of us are god’s children and we’ve got the power to achieve what we want. We just need to have the fire in the belly to want that. I was really starving at one point of time. I really wanted my strength and my health back. I’m trying my best to keep my health at a proper place. Every one of us should keep working hard to get what we are desiring for. But on the same hand we should leave few things in the hands of destiny, god and universe in whatever we believe in.
Q: Sanjay Dutt has definitely watched the trailer so what was his expression regarding you?
Manisha: As soon as he watched the trailer he tweeted that I look exactly like his mom. He is such a generous person and he has gone through a lot of struggle in his life and came back as a hero. People has accepted him back. He has come back to where he was. To see him and to work with him was a great thing.
Q: What would you like to say about Ranbir Kapoor after working with him in Sanju?
Manisha: He is a phenomenal actor. I think he is the best of his time. I’ve gone through few rushes from the movie and Oh god he has completely nailed it and I’m pretty sure that he will be loved by all the viewers as well.