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You have so many releases coming up, what makes Dhoom 2 special?
It's definitely a first in my career and it's interesting it's happened in the 10th year of my film career. Of course that's by choice, its not a moment if I may say so, a moment I have been waiting for to happen to me, in the sense that there have been offers to do roles in the western mode but I have been very choosy, very evident in the choice of films that I have done and made so far. This was a tough offer to resist, because I thought it was perfect, if this was what I wanted to bring on board, this was the perfect premise to do so. So in terms of playing an out and out westernized character, so obviously youth oriented and trendsetting, so obviously fashionable and fun, but at the same time racy, evidently hot and super cool, this was the perfect premise to do so, so yes I chose to project the way I never have before on this film, because I felt it seemed so natural and at ease and it went with the language of the film. If you do find Sunehri sexy at every given point, Sunehri just is, she isn't someone who is working to turn it on in every frame, unless she needs to as a character, while interacting with another character. So I thought it was great where wearing shorts or short skirts, dressing a certain way was just natural to the character. It wasn't about trying to work it on celluloid. I don't need to resort to tactics, to get attention, thank you very much, I have more than my fair share of it even in my saris! It's not something I needed to explore for the sake of the apparent, it was a definite character created, and it's just the language of the entire film and of all the characters. We have shot in Rio, where it was only natural to be dressed a certain way, we have shot in South Africa, also in Mumbai, but while interacting with the characters it's all a natural progression of the celluloid theme. Hence the comfort level.
What was the best moment during the course of shooting the film?
The film as a whole, but like I say apart from the part of the absolute thrill of working on celluloid, I must confess, I thoroughly enjoyed the team, I enjoyed the gang, off-screen as well, because like I just shared with you earlier, it was so nice that everybody was just there, it was the whole team. There were a lot of laughs, a lot of fun. There has been a lot of talk about the fitness regime, something that I only explored very honestly for a month to 5 weeks before we started the film, then it has only been my schedules throughout the last year, my different films I 've been working on, I didn't get a chance really to focus on the fitness. So for all the talk in the media, this is the truth, it was just 4-5 weeks last year before we started. Then after making Guru, both Abhishek and me had to put on weight for Mani's film, so we resumed the schedule. I suggested we take Deepika (the fitness instructor) with us because we were doing the action part of the film, and whatever little bit we could do, which was barely 2 weeks, while filming, but the fun part was that everybody would be in the gym, I mean everybody not just the actors. And it was fun because while we would all try to get into a bit of a routine, I think we were just having so much fun hanging around, that we'd be just about that sincere and then the next plan to go out to dinner, which we would all do very happily and try and hold on to the myths that if I gorge now it will show 20 days later, so that we are on safe turf, it was like a college /road trip, I'd say this film, where while we were working in all sincerity but it was all so much fun, on set and after hours. I think that is by far the best memory the best is everything about D2 is fabulous while making it, but I think we've come away being really good friends, time and tide will be able to define the strength of the friendship but nevertheless it definitely went beyond being co-stars, and its something that I really cherish and hold dear to my heart.
How did you enjoy shooting on location in South Africa and a message for your fans there?
South Africa incidentally has a home turf kind of significance in my life, because yes, I did win my title in Sun City of Johannesburg, and I have been there a couple of times, not that often, but a couple of times, my work took me back there, to Cape Town to film Dil Ka Rishta extensively which was again a family experience, so my memories are very very warm, and people have been extremely loving and its something that a lot of my film fraternity really cherish and enjoy with the people of South Africa. Even the year I was giving up the title, when Amitji was on board the panel of the jury, at the pageant, it was overwhelming to see the strength with which our people had descended to Sun City and the applause that he was rendered just took the entire pageant's breath away because it was so good to see, and such an awakening to the rest of the world to recognize, how passionate our people are about our cinema, and the members of our film fraternity, and the love that they are so generous with. Hence I personally share a very warm bond with our audience out there and I can just extend a heartfelt thank you, for their love and blessings and good wishes, all through my career and it was great fun now coming back there and shooting for Dhoom 2, a fun experience for us and again with a lot of very fond memories, I am glad that every time I have come there and worked or filmed, or participated in a pageant, I have come away with super success and a lot of love and great memories, so I guess that's a good sign.
Did you do any kind of special preparation for this role?
Like I said one was the visual, which was very imperative. As a pre-requisite, its something we as a team agreed that we definitely would work on as in every other film I work in. Here, however, I zeroed in on the physical appearance in terms of fitness, and it was a body language and a body type that I hadn't brought to celluloid before, and since I was going to dress a certain way, I needed to just be the person who wore those clothes, very naturally and not because it was an element of worked on excitement. I am glad that it has turned out exciting, that wasn't the reason for the costume. People who have well toned bodies as we look around, naturally dress a certain way, when you've really worked on your midriff you see that they are happy to wear shorter tops, when you have worked on your legs, they naturally wear short skirts, not because they need to show their legs but they feel natural and comfortable in it. So that was a body type that I was determined to work on, and I was very glad to discover that the first time in my life that I have got down to working out, my body responds very quickly and its very reassuring to know that, so with a little bit of focused time and work it was good to know that we can achieve it, and bring that on board. In terms of the styling, I worked with Anaita, whom I worked with several times in my career, especially in my modeling world, or in the fashion magazine assignments. We've worked many times before, so she knows me, my body type, my aesthetics, my comfort, and so we worked on it together very easily and she's done a fantastic job. The clothing feels like me, it feels natural even if it means seeing me for the first time in the western mould. It doesn't seem uncomfortable, it doesn't seem unnatural, and that's something Anaita knows about me, so we worked on it together and arrived at Sunehri. We decided that we would go with a different hand in terms of makeup and hair styling because that again would bring newness to board, so I worked with Subbu who also I have known from my advertising, and modelling experience, though this was the first film we were working on together. So we did one day of a look shoot as in a test with my dear friend Farooque and once we arrived at Sunehri, there she was bang on ready to go on set. Obviously the final verdict is the nod from Adi, it was fun to arrive at her in terms of the visual. In terms of preparation to characterisation, we were clear again as a team as I said before that we would create a character, while we knew that the visual would be the initial head turner, we needed to create someone who would be, specifically a character from this franchise. Also it has worked out really well, fortunately or coincidentally that currently I am having so many different releases, Umrao Jaan, Dhoom 2 and Guru, and ahead there's Provoked and Last Legion. It's great that not only visually we have arrived at a specific character, but also in terms of her mannerisms her personality is very very specific and can be identified as someone who belongs solely to this film.
What next? Can we expect to see you doing some more action films in the international front?
Well, I started in fact just pre Dhoom 2 I made Last Legion, which was definitely action not contemporary though and I experienced sword fighting and I am a warrior in that film, so I completed that movie before I started Dhoom, so that would technically be my first experience in the action genre, but it wasn't in the contemporary times, so I am glad that within the year, between last year and now, I have actually got through and tasted action spectrum in Roman times and contemporary biker times. It has been a lot of fun, its been a huge adrenaline rush, exactly what I was looking forward to and like I tease I have tasted blood, I can't wait to have more such experiences because they are really fulfilling and it's a rush that can't be explained, but it's a definite high, that's the most fantastic part of our job, because we get to experience which probably people just think or dream about, and irrespective of what point in time of your life, to what space you are physically in, where you are, it could from the ridiculous to the superlative in excitement, but the fact is we get to experience life through our film making and I think that's a blessing.