Considered one of Bollywood’s most successful actresses with legions of fans and a number of hit films to her credit, actress Amrita Rao has sustained herself in Bollywood for over a decade.
Soon to be seen on the big screen again in Prakash Jha’s Satyagraha, Amrita tells us about working alongside Amitabh Bachchan and also the biggest lesson she learnt from Shah Rukh Khan.
Team MM: What is the biggest lesson you have learnt through all your years in Bollywood?
Amrita: In all my years in Bollywood, the lesson that I’ve learnt is that you need a lot of patience. Success doesn’t come overnight. I remember, when I was shooting for Mein Hoon Na and Mr. Shah Rukh Khan tried to impart this wisdom to me. He told me that they young generation is in a haste to become superstars overnight and he tried to tell me how it takes a lot of films, a lot of exposure to actually become a superstar. And of course, a lot of hard work…!
So I realized that this is an industry which is highly competitive and only the best survive. So it’s perhaps easy to get here but the biggest challenge is to sustain.
Team MM: And what do you do to sustain your position in Bollywood?
Amrita: I have always believed in, perhaps, a few qualities that are true only to me. I am unique within the gamut of all the other actresses and hence my goal has never been to be them or to try and do something because they are doing it; and because they are doing this this then even I have to do this.
I have always believed that I am different, that I have certain qualities that nobody can replace and hence I have always stuck to my own comfort zone.
The roles that have always come my way have been fortunately the ones that I instantly loved. And the best part about this journey of being an actress, about not having a godfather, about not having someone to fall back on, has been that the best of film makers have always approached me. I have not knocked on their doors. They have come to me. And I think that is very graceful of them.
Team MM: What kind of roles excite you the most?
Amrita: The roles that have always excited me are roles that, no matter what character I play ( I could be a tomboy, I could be a village uneducated bumpkin or a small-town educated girl) – is the way the director conceives the scenes for me during the narration.
There are some film makers who have this knack of conceiving scenes which really put their actors through a challenge. So they would say to the actor – “You start from here and you are here and this happens. The camera will keep rolling and there are no cuts. And you have to cry!”
And then you just have to…you have got to cry!
When you are actually challenged by certain scenes like that, that really excites me because them I have sleepless nights over it and then I think about how I’m going to do it.
Team MM: Who has been your best co-star?
Amrita: Right now I’m going ballistic about Mr. Amitabh Bachchan with whom I’ve worked alongside in our next release, Satyagraha. He has been the most amazing co-actor, co-star I’ve worked with. There’s so much of experience there, so much of style, so much of simplicity that comes with the package of Amitabh Bachchan that you are in disbelief and you keep questioning yourself at the end of the day – “Was it really that Mr. Amitabh Bachchan whom I worked with the entire day?” – because there is no nakhra about Mr. Bachchan, there is no umbrella held over him, there is no nimboo-pani, there is no person coming to powder his face every two seconds.
Even after completing his shots, unlike other actors who hop in and out of their vanity vans, Mr. Bachchan just sits on the sets. Even if another actor is giving his shot, Mr. Bachchan is still on the set. He is very much a part of the set. That is something I was very surprised and amazed with.
Team MM: Tell us about Satyagraha!
Amrita: Satyagraha, a Prakash Jha film, is up for release on 30th August 2013. I am so excited. I believe that I have done my best….the best that I could do, perhaps, at this stage of my career. I’m in this mode now where I’ve just surrendered. You know, like they say, just do your best and don’t worry about the fruits of your labour. So when you have given your best to something, I think you should just let go. And I’m in that phase where I’ve just let go.
Team MM: Which Director would you love to work with?
Amrita: Wow! I’d love to work with Dipakar Banerjee as a film-maker. What I’ve noticed about him, which is very unique about him is that he has a special way of taking away the spotlight.
Generally, cinema is such a visual medium and when you see a fantastic director who obviously brings about the best in his actor, people exit the cinema hall in awe of the actor. And somewhere, because the director is behind the scenes, he doesn’t get all the accolades. But Dibakar has this unique way of also taking away the spotlight. For some reason, he just does it!
I saw Bombay Talkies and although Nawazuddin Siddique is one of the most brilliant actors I have seen on Indian cinema, I came out saying “Fantastic, Dibakar!” because he’s just so brilliant in his execution.