She’s bad & beautiful, she’s an actress, she’s a past beauty pageant topper – as a Miss Universe to boot, she’s a single mother, she’s hot and quite controversial. She’s also been off the film buff’s radar for quite some time now, on a longish sabbatical that seems to be drawing to an end. Our bollywood maven Jyoti Venkatesh caught up with Sushmita Sen at the success bash for a celebrity book in Mumbai, and brings you an exclusive interview with the prima donna …
You are judging the reality show COMEDY KE SUPER STAR with Shekar Suman and Sonu Sood. In what way is judging different from acting ?
Most of the time I think as an actor you look for applause, but when you become a judge you have the most responsible job in the world, because you would be taking away someone’s applause. I think this is not something which can be good or bad but you have to be honest with this. I am lucky to have a senior person like Shekhar Suman at my side in terms of experience over decades. He sat there and kept it fair all the time.
In what way is this show unique ?
In this show there was no public opinion – only judges, and our verdict were final. There was no voting too. Even if someone tries buttering we make it very clear that it will not work with us. In the first week itself they understood that nothing can impress the judges other than performance, so they concentrated on rehearsals. Honestly I felt like a parent – I felt like my kids are doing good.
What kind of briefing did you get ?
We had a brief. And comic timing plus screen presence played an important role. They did multiple get-ups so they had to look and behave like the character, the way they spoke, and they should be able to dance and be able to do a catwalk in a presentable way. We wanted them to do everything we ask. There was a very tough ruling thing we put them through. I have also seen that performance wherein I used to push Shekar sir’s hand and say that even I cannot do this.
What was the toughest aspect as a judge ?
The most difficult thing was to see the process of elimination and the feeling that X or Y was eliminated because of my marks is the worst feeling I ever had. Sometimes even one contestant was eliminated just because he scored 0.5 less. We have cried a lot while seeing them eliminating.
Are you also open to do fiction shows on TV ?
I don’t know about fiction shows. For me everything is an opportunity is something comes my way I will definitely do it.
Why are you not been seen in films for a long period of time ?
I can’t chase things anymore – if something comes to me that I wish to do, I will do it and everything will fall in place. I want to do a Hindi film for sure because I have just finished my Bengali film NIRBAK. The director told me that it was not a commercial but a diploma film which he wanted to take to all the festivals. He had not planned a commercial release earlier, but later they did that and it was appreciated. If I do not have a film in Hindi, it is because people have a typical thinking that I may be having many servants looking after my house, kids and stuff like that. I have my own office and my kids and I balance and manage both alone. There is nothing that happens with my children that I am unaware of.
You adopted your kids when you were very young, right ?
Yes, even my family was pretty shaken up with my decision to do so. When I told my dad that I wanted to adopt, I was just 24 and he told me that I was taking a big risk as a mother. He warned me that my priorities will change.
What is your take on comedies ?
I like all kind of comedies, and freedom to me is my freedom of expression. I will back it all through my life. But what I don’t believe in is purposely offending someone. If you like a certain kind of comedy that tickles your funny bones then why not ? Why always keep cribbing that log kya kahengey. Never loose your freedom for other people. I raise my children saying the same thing. Exercise you own choices without harming someone else and if someone comes and harms you get up and fight back.
How are you at home ?
I am the comedian in the house whenever I am in a good mood. The only thing that I strive hard to achieve for my kids is a happy environment. The older one is now 16 and already wants to become an actress. My desire is that my kids first of all get good degrees.
What happened to your project on JHANSI KI RANI ?
I have JHANSI KI RANI’s film rights. It is a period film but I am not prepared for it right now. I’d rather wait.
Tell us something about NIRBAK ?
NIRBAK has 4 love stories. The story of a man in love with himself, another about a dog in love with his father, a story of three in love with a woman, a morgue attendant in love with a dead body. I am in all the four stories – I am like the Sutradhar. The morgue attendant falls in love with my body and its my life falling till death.
In retrospect, how do you look at your career path till now in cinema ?
People say they are happy when their movie runs well on Friday, but I say I am a hit on satellite. I have done cinema that’s progressive. Films like SAMAY, FILHAAL and CHINGAARI, people generally tend to ask what the heck is she doing, but how-much ever they say, I know what went into the making of the films. I want to leave good body of work behind which people will remember. People said who would do CHINGAARI after MAIN HOON NA.
On what basis did you choose your films as an actress ?
I did films because I liked the script, and not because of Salman Khan or Shahrukh Khan.
Who would you say is your favourite actress today, if any?
Kangana is the best. I was blown away when I saw QUEEN and then TANU WEDS MANU RETURNS. She makes me very proud.