As director Vishal Bhardwaj starts Bollywood’s 2013 with the “fantabulous” Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, we caught up with the starcast to discover what makes the film unique. The Media team at the National Indian Students Union UK caught up with Imran ‘Matru’ Khan and Anushkaa ‘Bijlee’ Sharma.
Imran Khan as ‘Matru’ and Anushkaa Sharma as ‘Bijlee’ in ‘Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola’, a FOX STAR STUDIOS presentation, produced by Vishal Bharadwaj Films. Director – Vishal Bharadwaj. Director of Photography – Kartik Vijay Thyagarajan.
NISU Media Team: How did you land up with the role of Matru?
Imran: Vishal actually called me after Delhi Belly and said that he loved the film and my performance in it. He expressed an interest in meeting me.
I thought it must be one of those courtesy calls and moved on with my life. Why would Vishal Bhardwaj want to work with me, I thought.
I was later stunned that Vishal actually wanted to work with me. I heard the script, I cried, I laughed, I did everything. I was like, it’s awesome. But I was not sure if I would be able to do that role. I questioned him if he was sure about it.
NISU MT: Why were you unsure about if you would be able to do the role?
Imran: During the first script reading of the film, I was unable to say the Haryanvi dialogues. It was not easy, I felt I made a big mistake and I should back out.
When I told him [Vishal Bhardwaj] I won’t be able to do it, he said he was sure I could. He had faith in me, even when I didn’t.
NISU MT: So how different is the role from your previous films?
Imran: The role is different in terms of it required a lot of preparation for almost two and a half months. I have always felt that the more we rehearse, the better we perform.
[Bhardwaj] was very calm on the set and guided all the performers. Even if something was not working out, he would find a way to make it work. He knows the right way to do things.
Anushka: I play a strong headed, outspoken girl in the film. My character Bijlee is a rich, spoilt brat and is allowed to run wild in her village, which is practically owned by her millionaire father – Harry Mandola played by Pankaj Kapur. She is educated in the world’s best college and has traveled the world.”
NISU MT: How did you prepare for the role?
Imran: The film is set in Haryana. So I had to learn the Haryanvi dialect, the accent, everything. I didn’t want to sit in Mumbai and learn the dialect because it doesn’t happen organically. So I went to Delhi and hung out with some boys who are from Rohtak in North India. So when you’re hanging out with guys like that and rehearsing your scene, you naturally pick up the way they speak. You know, they have a sing-song way of talking, it’s very musical. So that’s the major prep I did for my role.
Anushka: We used to conduct readings with Sir’s (Vishal Bharadwaj) assistance. He has a way of getting the actors under the skin of their character so the scenes turn out convincing.
NISU MT: Tell us about your experience working with Vishal Bhardwaj?
Anushka: Vishal brings out the best in his actors. I really enjoyed working with him (Vishal). He is known for giving his heroines fully rounded characters with enough grey shades to make them real and interesting. But I can easily say the character of Bijlee is easily amongst his most complex heroines.
Imran: I was very surprised by his style of directing. He gives a lot more freedom to the actors than I expected. If during the take, you decide to do something different, he will let you do that. He liberates the actor and puts a lot of power in the actor’s hands.
NISU MT: Vishal Bhardwaj is known for casting unusual pairings, how was it working with each other for the first time?
Imran: We have done a photo shoot together. I watched her films and I felt she is a very good actress. But until you work with a person, you don’t really get to appreciate that person. When I actually started working with her, I got to know more about her talent. She has done very good work in this film.
Anushka: This is the first time that Imran and I are working together in a film. This is a fresh pairing. I never thought we would have such a different look in the film. I think Imran looks hot in this film!
NISU MT: You guys have a lip lock in this film. Tell us more about it.
Imran: It’s awkward when you are kissing someone who you are not romantically involved with because it is a very intimate act. Normally you do it with somebody who you are very close to, but here you are kissing someone who you don’t know that well.
NISU MT: Pankaj Kapoor also has a very unusual role, how was it working with him?
Imran: Pankaj Kapoor as an actor is a very challenging co-star to act opposite, because he improvises a lot and he pulls out new things as they happen. You have to be in the moment with him, you have to be ready with whatever he will do, and you have to be ready to pick that up and take it forward.
NISU MT: We hear that the film has a taboo subject, what is you take on this?
Imran: It’s a very taboo subject. Not controversial but people can find a way to make it controversial. I’ll tell you what will happen, one week before the release someone will find a way to make it controversial, someone or the other will get offended, just see.
NISU MT: How do you think the film has turned out?
Anushka: I think our film is very entertaining as it is like a dark comedy. I think it is Vishal sir’s most commercial project if I can say so. And also, the movie’s cast is exciting – there is Imran Khan, Pankaj Kapur, Shabana Azmi. He is one director who is known to bring out the best from actors.