ON THE BRIEF
I have always respected Raja’s work. I was told just four simple lines. Raja very smartly did not give out the complexities of the character. He told me it was an adaptation. I already knew the plot and since I had seen the original, I was thinking of Sofia Vergara in that role. Then Raja asked me to send him some of my work. Within half an hour I got a call from him asking me to come to Mumbai for a script reading. I read Radha’s lines and found that even though it did not sound like Sofia’s character, it was intriguing.
ON HER ROLE
I think he took advantage of me on a few things (laughs). I am a dancer so that worked out well even though it was already in the script before I came on board. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to prep much for that. The character is a strong, supporting anchor for Roshan. This was one of the important relationships from the past that he was still living with. She is the one pushing him to change his
life. She has an edge because she is an ex-wife. She says things to support and motivate him. I couldn’t understand her because I personally would be like, ‘Get out of my life and my house’ (laughs). It was too evolved a relationship for me as I am a very wicked woman. We practised a lot for the dance sequence to show her chemistry with Roshan. I have never done such a chemistry-building scene in my career before.
ON THE CHALLENGES
It is difficult to do characters which are not protagonists but anchors to the protagonist. My character does stuff which is preachy but had to come across as practical. So for me, it was an emotional turmoil. Another challenge was the sync sound which I hadn’t done before in a Hindi film. I have been doing a lot of Malayalam movies so it is easier to do sync sound in those. I am usually used to acting through my face on the set and then dubbing it later. In Chef, I had to be conscious of both. Now, I am really good at it and only want to do sync sound!
ON HER CO-ACTORS
I enjoyed watching Saif long before I knew I was going to be an actress. I have seen his films in the theatre hooting and whistling at the screen! It was surreal when he was in front of me. I remember, after one scene, I blurted out that this was such a great opportunity to work with him. He held my hand in a classic, nawab style and said, ‘It is such a pleasure, ma’am.’ I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ I didn’t expect that. With Svar (Kamble), it was a very chilled-out relationship as even on screen, the mother-son bond was pretty cool and friendly. It never felt like we had to work at it. I had worked with Chandan (Roy Sanyal) and Dinesh (Prabhakar) before, so we were comfortable.
ON THE DIRECTOR
There is something very warm about him. He is very clear about what he wants. He is very demanding, which is what I like. There are a lot of relationships in his films but the way he treats women in his films is unique. I have developed a close relationship with someone whose work I have liked watching on screen. It has been amazing to have him as a director in my life. I wish the best for him.
ON THE RESPONSE
I was disappointed with the kind of numbers we got. It does sting when you have worked so hard on the film and no one watches it. I am proud that I did this film. The critics’ reviews have been great but that still doesn’t answer why we had such a low opening. Yet, I feel the hard work paid off because we got Radha’s role right.
I can’t tell you anything about my next Hindi movie right now or what I will be doing soon. I have a movie called Cross Road releasing on October 13. It is an anthology with female leads. In my story, I play the role of a prostitute. We have tried to show her human side.
– Bhakti Mehta