You have been prolifi c in Hindi, Bengali and Marathi films; what prompted you to explore south films?
I don’t feel that I am bound by a language. I was offered Raktacharitra, which was also shot in Telugu and later dubbed in Tamil. After that I got a fi lm with Prakash Raj and I absolutely enjoyed working with him. There are so many great fi lms being made in the south and working there is only helping me know the culture and people better.
Your first film in south was Dhoni (Tamil- Telugu bilingual) directed by acclaimed actor Prakash Raj; your experiences?
I have always been a fan of Prakash sir as an actor. I think because he himself is such an excellent actor, he is very sensitive towards other actors as a director. He gave me my space and let me improvise with my own thoughts, with respect to the character. Also as I was new to the language he helped me understand the meaning of all my lines and then learn them, instead of just mugging and getting help from an AD with his prompting. After a Telugu take we did the Tamil one immediately and there were times when I had a monologue and just one shot. It was diffi cult but he was extremely patient with me and supported and trusted me throughout.
You seem to be going great guns in Bengali, with 3 fi lms in the language. Will 2013 be the best year for you in Bengali cinema?
I do not know about this being the best year as I hope to do more work in Bengali. I absolutely love Kolkata and there is some fantastic work happening there. I have fi nished shooting for two fi lms last year – Pendulum and Rupkotha Noy.
How different is it working in Bengali cinema vis-a-vis Hindi movies?
I think that mainstream cinema in Hindi, Bengali, Marathi or South Indian cinema has a lot to do with the culture and values in that particular part of the country. It also refl ects the working ethics of the crew at those places, and sometimes the scale differs. I think the work experience is largely based on the people you are working with and the language or industry does not matter after a point.
You seem to be lucky having worked with top directors – RGV, Prakash Raj, Aniruddha and Amol Palekar. How do you differentiate between them and their working style?
They all have completely different working styles! I think it has only helped me learn more. I do take time to understand the working process of the director I am working with. But during the process when the wavelengths start matching, it is a lot of fun. Of course sometimes it does not match and it is always a struggle then to try and deliver what they want and fi ght with your own instincts at that time. Ramu sir used to let me do what I wanted. Then he would come talk to me if it did not work. I had all the freedom to experiment. Prakash sir would discuss the scene and then just see how I interpreted the scene. Aniruddha always has a perfect visual in his mind and he used to describe that to me. We did a lot of rehearsals. Amol sir likes to surprise you. While shooting he would disclose things about the story that I did not know and I think he was always looking at the spontaneous reactions. Recently, I fi nished shooting for Ketan Mehta (Mountain Man) and Harsh Kulkarni (Vaasu). Ketan sir sat down with me right at the beginning of the shoot and we discussed the graph of my character, after which I was free to interpret and improvise. Of course, he supported me throughout and sometimes helped me work harder when my performance failed to convince him.
You continue to maintain strong connection with Pune theatre; how do you balance films and theatre?
I love to perform on stage and I cannot imagine quitting it. I am currently rehearsing for a Marathi play called “Une Pure Shahar Ek”. It was originally written by Girish Karnad and adapted in Marathi by Pradeep Vaidya, directed by Mohit Takalkar. I just simply do not take on fi lm work while I rehearse for the play. We are opening the play on the 1st of March after which I will start shooting for my next projects.
Your marriage to Benedict Taylor – was it expected? How do you manage your personal life alongside acting commitments?
I got married last year but this in no way has affected or changed my professional life. I was working throughout and wish to continue to work. I do not see any problem in managing my personal life and work at all.