BOI: Like Nawaz said, you bring a wonderful freshness to all your performances. After doing the same job for so many years, how do you manage to do that?
SK: Well, thanks to subjects like MOM and directors like Ravi (Udyawar), and actors like Nawazuddin and Akshaye, I have to be on my toes all the time.
BOI: For each one of you, is it difficult to get out of character or does it get easier with time?
SK: It all depends on what kind of films you are doing. In this film, I definitely carried baggage back home with me although I didn’t realise it. My daughter made me realise this much later, after the film was completed. She said, ‘Mom, now you have to be normal.’
AK: It’s not that you have to remain in character; I think you have to remain in a certain kind of mental space throughout the day. It’s not like she went home and started behaving like her character with her family but she wants to stay in a certain mental space and you don’t want to be disturbed from it as long as you are playing that role.
NS: Absolutely, we are not machines that can be switched on and switched off. So you have to remain in that space; there’s no escaping that.
SK: (Cuts in) This is an honest film and, in this film, the director is the most honest person. I have never worked with such an honest and sensitive director before. So, if I say, ‘What a shot, Ravi (Udyawar),’ he will start crying.’ So he is so honest, vulnerable and sensitive. And that comes across in the film.
BOI: How difficult is to retain that honesty today, especially in a world where everyone wears a mask?
SK: As Akshaye said, as an artiste, we seldom get a chance to do a truly honest film. The best thing about MOM was that the entire cast was honest to their work, from the director to the technicians to the cast. So when you work with a team like that, it becomes easy. At the end of the day, it’s all about teamwork. A combination like this is very rare.
BOI: The two of you (Sridevi and Akshaye) come from a time when we used to celebrate silver and golden jubilees of films, whereas now we celebrate the opening numbers and weekend collections. Has it been an easy shift for the industry?
SK: You have to change with the times. As they say, old is gold but we have to adopt new things with time as well.
AK: Cinema used to be the only source of entertainment whereas now we have to struggle to attract attention because there are so many sources for entertainment.
SK: Yes, there’s so much happening… web series, television…
BOI: Do you have any expectations of this film’s weekend numbers or is this a film whose numbers don’t matter because only the content does?
AK: At the end of the day, it’s business. You don’t make films that nobody wants to watch. The main thing is the business, it has to make money. And if it does not make money, that means you are not successful.
BOI: Akshaye, like Nawaz said earlier, you are an unexplored actor. Is there anything in particular that you want to explore as an actor?
AK: The thing is, I am not a writer and I am not a director, so I can’t and I don’t create my own content. I am dependent on the people who create content to offer me roles and I choose from that. In the end, you connect with the story and the character, emotionally.
BOI: Can you share something about each of your characters in the film and what attracted you to the script?
NS: I was a little greedy when I signed the film as I was getting a chance to work with Sri ma’am. I read the script much later. Every actor has a wishlist and a desire to be able to work with the best talent in the industry. Of course, I feel ma’am is the best actress, not only in India but in the world. I am not saying this for the sake of it but after watching so many films from around the world, after attending so many international film festivals, and after seeing the best of world cinema, I am proud to say that Sri ma’am is the best actress in the world. I won’t be able to talk about the character. Just watch out for the suspense in the film.
BOI: Not even a little about the character?
SK: (Laughs) We have already seen a little of it in the trailers.
NZ: Now you will get to see a little more in the second trailer. (Laughs)
BOI: And, ma’am, for you, what was that one thing?
SK: It was not just one thing. I said ‘yes’ because of the script. Like Akshaye said, for an artiste there is a selfish reason and for me it was the character. I felt the character was sketched brilliantly and that’s why I wanted to be a part of this movie. The other thing that made me say ‘yes’, was the director. As an artiste, there is a process of learning with every new role you take on, and I believed that with this role, I would get to learn a lot, especially to work with such a director and that too on a subject like this, and with co-stars like Nawazuddin and Akshaye. So, there were many reasons for me to do this film.
AK: I didn’t know it when I signed the film but I notice it now… I don’t see anything missing from the film. Everything came together perfectly. Boney (Kapoor) talks about it a lot and says, ‘The entire journey of MOM, everything has fallen into place. We got the right people, right technicians, the right actors, right director and the perfect producers to make a film like MOM.’
This film is not every producer’s cup of tea and it takes a special person to make a film like this, especially given the times in which we live. It takes someone with passion, experience and depth to produce a film like this and to nurture it. Films like this need to be nurtured and Boney has it in him, that depth and that nurturing ability, to come up with something like this.