While ‘Himmatwala’ received the thumbs down from audiences and critics alike, Tamannaah is back with ‘Humshakals’ and looking to gain acceptance from all quarters this time around. Indiatimes spoke to the actress about her hopes, her equation with Sajid Khan and Bipasha Basu and about why she shied away from wearing an entire bikini for the film. Excerpts from the interview:
Your last Bollywood film was a disaster...
And that’s why there’s no pressure. You know, when you hit rock bottom, you can’t sink any further. The only way from there was up.
Were you very disappointed after Himmatwala?
There was no time to feel sad! In fact, I think the people around me felt worse than I did.
So you’re feeling good about Humshakals?
Absolutely. I play a VJ in the film and I’m really happy with my look. After Himmatwala, I felt that audiences were finding my look dated. I wanted to break that perception that ‘oh, she does South Indian films so she’s always going to be this desi girl’. I play a VJ in Humshakals and it’s all very urban and chic.
Have you found it to juggle work in both industries?
A little, because the sensibilities are different. For example, they like much fuller women down south while they expect you to be lean in Bollywood, and so I was getting comments like ‘oh, you’re thin again’ or ‘wow, you’re fat’ all the time. It was perplexing because it’s not like I’m made of elastic to make everyone happy. Fortunately, because I’m already a known face down South, I got to stay on the lean side and complete my Bollywood projects.
How was it working with Sajid this time around?
He was very different. With Himmatwala, he had tried on drama for size but I think people couldn’t relate to that 80s kind of entertainment and it flopped as badly as it did. With Humshakals, he’s back to making an out-and-out comedy and he’s taken a real risk with this triplets gag. It’s confusing but that’s where the humour arises from. He’s confident about this film.
He was confident the last time too...
Yes, but it’s different this time around. You have to really appreciate this man for being brave enough to announce on a national platform that he made a mistake and that he’s trying to correct it this time around. I think it’s good to fail sometimes because it gives you a reality check. I do hope this film does well for his sake and for everyone associated with it.
Sajid’s been a bit of a godfather to you, hasn’t he?
I would say he’s more of a mentor. He had enough faith in my talent to cast me after the debacle that was Himmatwala and has presented me in an entirely different avatar
What’s your personal equation like?
He treats me like he would his sister, and I feel similarly about him.
You share screen space with not only three actors but two other actresses. Didn’t that feel a little crowded?
See anyone who works with Sajid knows that he’ll tell you on day one what your role will be and how much screen time you’re going to get. There was never any ambiguity in my head about what my part in this film would be and so there was no question of me feeling insecure or strapped for space.
So all the rumours we’re hearing about catfights on the sets...
(Interrupts) Untrue. I’m sure it makes great copy but contrary to the rumours floating around, Bipasha was very sweet to me and even offered me tips about fitness and acting whenever I needed them.
One only asks because it’s not uncommon to hear these kind of things when there’s more than one actress in a film.
Look, I’ll be honest. There was a healthy sense of competition because we all want to put our best foot forward, but it never got awkward.
What was wearing a bikini on screen like?
Well, I’m not wearing an entire bikini; I’ve got shorts on in that scene. I’ve always maintained that I won’t wear a bikini or kiss on screen, but I didn’t want to affect the chic vibe of the film and so that’s as far as I went.
What was your equation with Saif like?
It’s very easy to romance him. He can instantly charm you and he’s someone who’s so secure. He also submits entirely to the director’s will. It was amazing to watch someone so experienced come to the set with a blank slate and follow his director blindly.
Your three Bollywood releases, Himmatwala, Humshakals and It’s Entertainment, are true blue masala entertainers. Do you see yourself doing anything different or will you stick to this?
I think it’s pure coincidence that my releases have been so and I’m sure that in the future, I’ll be doing films entirely away from this genre. It just so happens that this is what is on my plate right now and hence, what you’re getting to see. That said, I’d rather be part of films that people are interested about rather than the kind of film you wouldn’t care to interview me about. Who’d want to be part of something insignificant, a film whose release no one cared about?
So you’re happy then?
I’d say I’m satisfied. I’m currently working on three South Indian films and I have two releases. But yes, I certainly want more and I know that I have a long way to go.