Congratulations on Priyaank’s wedding! How does it feel to have a daughter-in-law at home?
Priyaank and Shaza have just returned after a spate of functions and celebrations including the one we had at Maldives. Honestly, it feels great to have Shaza in the house. In between, Mohammed Morani’s (Shaza’s uncle) son got married in Goa. So, it has been too hectic of late. Abhi tak thakavat bhi gayi nahi hai (we are still tired) (laughs).
But having said that, Shaza is like a daughter to me. She is a blessing in the life of Sharmas. I couldn’t have asked for anyone better as my son’s wife. It’s been a long love story. I knew about it right from the days when they were in school. Then, Priyaank went to do an acting course in the US. Shaza was also around, she was in the New York University then. While I had gone there to set up his place, it was actually she who was managing almost everything; that trip turned out to be a holiday for me.
Your son fell in love when he was too young, 14 or 15 if I am not wrong. Did you have any objection?
When does a parent of a child react in such a situation? It happens, but it happens only when he/she feels that his/her child has not chosen the right person. Shaza weaved into our family seamlessly from the word ‘go’. If I couldn’t get Priyaank on the phone once in a while, I would call Shaza without any stress in my head because I knew she would always be aware about his whereabouts. They have been so thick that there was no need to call anybody else, and as I said, what better could I have asked for?
Your dance from the road into the Morani household on the wedding day took us by surprise. Weren’t you always a very shy person?
No, I am not very shy. Plus the beating of the drums drove me into a mood where I felt I must dance. I just couldn’t resist. Besides, I love dancing. But I think it’s the overall boundless happiness at the occasion that did the trick.
You donned a very different green, unlike the usual reds and creams that do the rounds at weddings…
Yeah, but it wasn’t green per se. It was more on the bluish side. I received a lot of compliments and everyone seemed to have liked it. To tell you the truth, Shraddha Kapoor, Pankaj, Tejaswini, Siddhanth… we all were in shades of blue and had colour coordinated. All said and done, it took me about three months to put everything together. The most difficult costume to be done turned out to be Priyaank’s sherwani and Shaza’s mother’s sharara. Shaza’s love story lehenga and her white wedding outfit also took a long time
Did Karim Morani and his wife get emotional at the bidaai?
There was no bidaai, as such. But Karim Morani’s eyes were very moist at the white wedding, but it’s fine. We all are happy, it is so nice that both the families–Sharmas and Moranis–are in Juhu. So, Shaza hasn’t gone anywhere far from her parents.
We’ll come back to Priyaank. But let’s rewind for some time. You had several outstanding performances to your credit. In hindsight, do you regret not doing ‘Ram Teri Ganga Maili’?
I was offered Rati Agnihotri’s role in ‘Ek Duuje Ke Liye’, Rekha’s role in ‘Silsila’, and Sridevi’s role in ‘Tohfa’, but I couldn’t do them for some reason or the other. You can’t grab every film that comes your way, If a film does well to the magnitude that ‘RTGM’ did, you do feel that you should have been a part of it. ‘RTGM’ did astoundingly well, Mandakini did a good job, the songs were beautiful. But then, Rajji knew my inhibitions. He exactly knew why I wasn’t doing it.
You didn’t want to do that bold scene (where Mandakini feeds her baby)…
That bold scene was never going to be a part of the film when I was talking to Raj ji about it.
If the feeding scene was not the reservation, then what was the issue?
I didn’t want to do the kissing scene.
With Rajiv Kapoor?
Nothing about Rajiv, it was just that I was not comfortable about kissing on screen. But yet, Raj ji asked me to reconsider it even after he’d completed a 45-day schedule with Mandakini and others.
Which means he was ready to re-shoot the portions that he had shot with Mandakini for a month-and-half?
Did you reconsider?
No, not really. By then, I had committed to other films.
Was Rajji upset with you after that? Did he offer you ‘Heena’?
No, he wasn’t upset. I would have loved to do every other film he made. And no, he didn’t offer me ‘Heena’. By the time ‘Heena’ happened, I think I had got married.
Which role has been the most difficult one in your career till date–‘Ahista Ahista’, ‘Prem Rog’ or any other?
Good question (pauses and thinks hard). Nothing was really tough as I was a part of films as a child artiste, so I had fitted into this profession seamlessly. But I used to hate if I was given my lines at the last minute. Like it happened in ‘Yeh Ishq Nahin Aasaan’ opposite Rishi Kapoor; heavy Urdu lines, two full pages! I told them that there was no chance that I could do it that way.
There was no PR machinery and no social media in your heydays. How did you handle it when you got linked up with Raj Kapoor, Nasir Hussain, and reportedly Rajiv Kapoor had fallen in love with you…
Today, people have little to no intrigue about an actor’s life. Actors are all out there themselves, with the photographers clicking away merrily. But how many times will you write the same thing which you have seen 20 times? How many times will you put out pictures which say the same thing? Anyway, coming to your question, those were all false rumours. And, false rumours die a quick death. There’s no need to address them. That’s exactly what happened to the stories you’re referring to.
You were a big fan of which actor?
Rajesh Khanna; I used to wait at the airport to just get a glimpse of him.
Were you intimidated working with Dilip Kumar, Sanjeev Kumar and Shammi Kapoor in ‘Vidhaata’?
Nope, I was familiar with Shammi uncle as I was always with the Kapoors at their parties. And I had no butterflies in my stomach working with Dilip saab and Sanjeev ji. I think I didn’t get intimidated because since I was a child I’d worked with stalwarts like Nutan aunty, Rajendra Kumar ji, and Dev saab.
What about Raaj Kumar when you worked with him in “Ek Nai Paheli’? He was a moody person…
Yes, he was very moody, but I never got to see his moods.
Which of your heroes have you kept in touch with?
Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, and off and on, Mithun Chakraborty. I never had issues with anyone. Whosoever I bump into, we start talking like best friends and I connect with them from where we had left.
Have you been in touch with Sanjay Dutt? He hadn’t been well earlier this year. You worked with him in ‘Vidhaata’, ‘Bekaraar’ amongst other films…
Baat nahin hui (I haven’t spoken to him). I felt he must be under lots of pressure. My prayers are always with him.
How has your 33-year old marriage with Tutu Sharma been?
It has been fantastic, touch wood. The credit of this goes to my husband. He has never a difficult and demanding husband. It is not at all easy to marry an actress who’s a star and enjoys high adulation. Life would have been very tough if my husband hadn’t understood me and my profession. He always let me be, he never said that I should change.
You won awards for ‘Prem Rog’, ‘Ahista Ahista’, and ‘Insaaf Ka Tarazoo’. Were you disappointed when you didn’t get it for ‘Souten’ and ‘Pyar Jhukta Nahin’?
By then, I had started doing too many commercial films and there wasn’t anything in those projects that I should be awarded. Surely there’s no thumb rule that every actor must get an award every year.
Do you think the film industry is a tough place for today’s youngsters, including your son?
Competition has increased in every industry, not just in movies. Opportunities might have increased too, but so have the number of actors. Add this to the pressure of one needing to have followers on social media to make an impact. Add this to the requirement of likes to your posts to create awareness.
Would you call the need of creating ripples on social media as madness?
It’s a bubble that will burst any minute. Having said that, it is very essential nowadays that your EQ (Emotional Quotient) is high; you have to be mentally very strong to face today’s world.
Neena Gupta told us in her interview that mothers’ roles in Bollywood still don’t have enough meat…
Nothing pivotal is being written for actresses of my age.
So, has that made you refuse a lot of films after ‘Phata Poster Nikhla Hero’?
Your opinion about today’s films, in general…
Too much gloss, very little soul.
Were you satisfied with ‘Phata Poster …’ and ‘Panipat’?
I knew what my role was in ‘Panipat’. Of course, it feels bad if a film doesn’t work at the box-office. But what is also important is who you’re working with. Working with Ashutosh and (Rajkumar) Santoshi is a dream. I would love my son to be directed by Santoshi, one day.
You didn’t get to work with Mr Amitabh Bachchan…
You said it! Fingers crossed, it will happen.
Have you been in touch with Lata Mangeshkar ji recently?
We chatted for 45 minutes, recently. She wrote a beautiful note to my son in her own handwriting for his wedding and even sent him gifts.
Coming back to Priyaank. If we were not in the pandemic, you would have surely taken Priyaank and Shaza to Lata ji at her Peddar Road residence for her blessings?
You said it, again!