Compiled by Poorva Rajaram
Pay It Southward
We remember a time not so long ago when actresses’ salaries hovered well below 1 crore. Now, of course, either Katrina Kaif or Deepika Padukone will be paid Rs 1 crore to do an item number in Oshti, the Tamil remake of Dabangg. And we vote for Deepika on the simple grounds that Katrina has already had her item chance and Dum Maro Dum barely qualifies as one. Apparently, the already jaunty Simbu(not that he lacks his own hype), who will play Chulbul Pandey, is super keen on importing a Munni from Bollywood.
Arindam & Rajita Chaudhuri’s Book Launch
At an event as glamorous as the Filmfare Awards, Arindam Chaudhuri and wife Rajita launched their book Thorns to Competition in Delhi this week. The stage was silver and the guests starry. Green laser lights accompanied the sounds of a thundering night sky. And then there was Shah Rukh Khan, who unveiled the book with a remote control. Arindam said his earliest works were love letters written on behalf of friends. Rajita stressed, “Hit the competitors’ weakest spot! You’ll grab eyeballs.”
Part of the charm of Dabangg was Salman Khan’s deep revulsion to high-minded public office and consequent de facto private ownership of public property. The let’s-break-things on the railway platform fight sequence comes to mind (think broken urinals). And now we hear the Indian Railways is considering recruiting him as a brand ambassador. You can imagine our confusion about what the advertising is for. But, even if there is no under-subscription to solve, it’s hard to imagine the railways taking a cooler plunge.
Hard Life Truths
A Balaji Telefilms insider recently confirmed to Rediff that Shobhaa Dé will play real-life journalist Devyani Chaubal in the Silk Smitha biopic Dirty Picture. The articulate source says Chaubal’s “synthesis of spice and spite just didn’t fit into any known and skilled actress. We needed someone who understood the politics of gossip journalism.” This quote managed, if fleetingly, to lead us down an existential- intellectual spiral: what is the ‘politics of gossip journalism’? What is the right critical register for this serious enquiry? Do we just want people to think we are smart?
‘I once danced on bar tops to get noticed by filmmakers’
WHO Gill first shot to fame with Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D in which she played a modern-day Paro. She won the 2010 Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress for the same role. She was recently in the news for playing a character inspired by Maria Susairaj in Ram Gopal Varma’s Not a Love Story. She has done several Punjabi films before she came to Bollywood, and her next release is Sahib, Biwi aur Gangster.
How did your parents react to your entry into Bollywood?
My mother didn’t want me to cook or do anything that other girls did. Instead she encouraged me to learn French, kathak and join the NCC. I actually wanted to join the army, but that plan went awry. Thankfully, my mother understands that acting is just acting, and that kissing someone is a part of that. But, recently, she saw a picture of me kissing Randeep Hooda for a movie, and said, why didn’t you just become a professor or something instead of an actor (laughs).
Did you do any crazy things as a struggler?
When I came to Mumbai in 2005, I thought people will be offering me films left, right and centre, but nothing happened. Then I heard that in Mumbai, you may get spotted in a party, I started going to all kind of parties. I actually danced on bar tops to get noticed. I am not ambitious. I just wanted to get a job in Mumbai. Even – tually, I did get noticed by Anurag Kashyap at a party!
How was it playing a char acter inspired by Maria Susairaj?
In 2008, after I completed Dev D and was looking for a house, nobody would rent me one because of the sheer fear that the Neeraj Grover murder case had caused. I did follow the case closely. I could relate to her when it comes to the struggling actor scene, but other than that, it was frustrating. We shot the film in 20 days, and later when I saw it, I realised how it’d panned out. It drained me.
What does your wishlist comprise of?
I want to travel the whole world and eat lots of food. I have one strange wish — I want to get all the kind of massages the world may have!
Beneath the actress, what sort of a person is Mahie Gill?
I am a very shy person and love staying at home or just hanging out with a few friends. I think I am very difficult to define as a person. I can be totallybindaas too, and go partying like crazy as well. Or just become an introvert. I can do both.
Aastha Atray Banan is a Senior Correspondent, Mumbai with Tehelka.