'Slim, sexy and slick' is how she was known worldwide for her portrayal in her debut film Nishabd. So if you've made up your mind to see the most desirable single woman again with minimal outfits in Ghajini, don't be shocked after you read this interview. The new 'wow' babe of Bollywood is on cloud nine at the moment, after having worked with Amitabh Bachchan in her first film and with the 'Perfectionist' Aamir Khan in her second. But what makes her special is the fact that she's also the smartest actress and comes across as the pluckiest with a dry wit to match. Bold, confident and raring to go, she is one Khan who stands out from the rest of the Khans in the industry. In one of the longest interviews that she has ever given, Jiah Khan talks about her next release Ghajini, how she landed up in the film, her tough times shooting the film, the research which went into her role, why she thinks that this Aamir starer will be her first big commercial success, and of course, her views after viewing Aamir's fit physique...all this and more in this exclusive interview:
Jiah, to start with, I can't help but start this interview by asking you how do you express your anger or emotion towards the Mumbai terror attack last month?
It is so depressing. I feel sad that we call ourselves civilians and yet we can't be civil to each other. Religion is turning out to be a huge hurdle now and what has been considered to be so personal and sacred is now being used to destroy humanity in the name of religion. All this is really disturbing and I hope it comes to an end someday.
Ever since the common man has heard about Ghajini's first look, the promos and the songs, the only thing they haven't heard about is Jiah Khan. What say?
I'd like to say that Jiah Khan does exist in Ghajini (laughs). It's up to Aamir Khan and the producers of Ghajini and the way they want to publicize the film. What they've done with my role and my image is going to be a big surprise. But why they've kept me out of the promos is something you'll have to ask the producers.
Your fascination with the letter 'A' is also being accounted for, Amitabh to Aamir…two of the best in the business. When do you alphabetically move forward on the costar's list?
Wow! That's a good observation. I think I'm very lucky. But eventually all is in God's hands and I hope it keeps on going this way.
Comparisons are bound to happen when you work with two perfectionist actors like the Big B and Aamir. Any interesting observations?
They both are very experienced as we all know. And when you work with such an experienced bunch of actors, you tend to perform much better and get your work finished much faster. As individuals they're extremely different. The way they communicate with their co-actors is also very different. I got to learn a lot from both of them and it feels as if I am ten films old now.
All actors say that they've learnt a lot from their co-actors. We want to know what exactly you have learnt.
My scenes in Ghajini are like on the edge and dramatic scenes. As far as acting goes, it was far simpler to do a Nishabd than to be doing Ghajini. To be working with Aamir Khan and then shouting at him is pretty hard, which Aamir helped me with eventually. For Aamir to hold my hand in each scene and then take me through the scenes by doing rehearsals only to see which scene fits perfect was a learning experience. Right now I'm learning how to deal with different characters and different emotions.
A director will only go to an actor when he knows that he is talented and experienced and can give box office success. With no experience behind you, how did the producers and directors came knocking on your door for Ghajini?
I'd like to think it's because of my talent. You missed that out. If you see, both Nishabd and my role in Ghajini aren't glamorous. Both are performance based roles. When you're a part of a Bollywood film industry, luck has a lot of role to play. It's good to be doing a performance oriented role, where you concentrate less on what lip stick shades you're wearing. When the switch is on and you're at the right place, it means your time is right. I guess the producers and the directors came at the right time (laughs)
So how did the bell ring on your door?
I was approached by the producer where he handed me the copy of the original South Indian film. Aamir was on board then. So, of course that had to be accounted for. Then, I had to audition for my role which took very long. Mentally, it was quite draining to figure out whether I was in or out. For me, being in the film was like a major turning point in my career. Within two weeks of the audition, they finally decided to cast me for the role. I was over the moon.
I have to ask you the cliched, 'what role do you play in the film' question.
(Laughs) I play Sunita in the film who is a medical student with brain study as her special subject. She tries and case studies Aamir Khan's character and then how she gets to know about his personal vendetta and becomes involved in it, is what my role is in Ghajini.
Is your voice being dubbed in Ghajini?
No it's not dubbed. It's my original voice. Everything is sync sound. Aamir Khan being a perfectionist wouldn't ok my sound being dubbed.
Was filming for Ghajini an uphill climb?
There was a lot of pressure because when you are performing with Aamir Khan or Amitabh Bachchan. For instance, you cannot give many retakes. At the back of your head you know that if you don't get it right quickly, you'll tire them out and you don't want to be doing that. But to your surprise and mine, the crew started calling me a 'one-take actress'. There were some extremely intense scenes where it was so draining and that's when Aamir lend me a helping hand.
The news circulating right now in the media is that Aamir Khan is not really happy with the way Ghajini has shaped up. Have you heard the same?
I have no idea about what you're saying and thus cannot comment on your question.
With Nishabd not working well for you, are you looking forward to touch your first commercial success with Ghajini?
I'd like to believe that, definitely. Ghajini is a commercial film unlike Nishabd but at the same time it is a thriller too. My portions in the film are very dramatic. The part of the film in which I am in, is where the thriller element comes in play. I hope Ghajini turns out to be like your question.
What went into the research of your character? And any memorable sequence you can trace back?
Being a medical student, there were a lot of technical terms I had to be familiar with. Also the pronunciations had to be perfect. The research is one of the hardest things that I've done in my entire life. There was one sequence where I had to run with Aamir Khan on a busy Mumbai road with thousands of onlookers and mad traffic. Of course, with Aamir Khan being there, such scene had to happen but I was shocked to see the stampede. I thought that the crowd would all pounce on us but luckily I am alive! (laughs)
Do you share any screen space with Asin?
No I don't. Asin is in the first half of the film whereas I come in after the intermission.
From Ramu to Murugadoss, both have made films in the South. How was it working with Murugadoss?
I am the biggest fan of Murugadoss. He is definitely one of my favourite directors, though I've only worked with Ram Gopal Varma. He is very adorable and one of the funniest members on and off the sets. He is very light hearted and a true perfectionist. So if my performances get appreciated in Ghajini, credit has to go to Murugadoss.
Your skimpy outfits made you look super sexy in your debut film. What kind of outfits are we going to see you in Ghajini?
(Laughs) A complete opposite. I am covered up from head to toe. So even if I wanted to show a little bit of skin, Aamir and Murgadoss would cover me up.
Do you think after what's happened on November 26, Ghajini will attract crowds in theatres?
The whole idea of me joining the Bollywood industry was that films have always been an outlet for me and the people. We go and see a film to get away from the harsh realities of day to day life. I hope Ghajini continues to do exactly that and entertain the audiences. Go and see Ghajini because it is a fabulous film with me, Aamir and Asin. We know that Aamir doesn't do a lot of commercial films. For that reason one should go and watch Ghajini.
A very important question coming your way. What say about Aamir's never before seen slick and sexy physique?
You know what; I was on the sets passing him, while he was in his boxer shorts shooting a scene. I actually stopped and couldn't breathe. He looked amazing. I don't know how he came up with such a physique but one thing is certain, that, it is going to melt a many.