(Source : www.nazara.com)
'Teri Jawani badi mast mast hai'..Remember the song from 'Pyar kiya to darna kya' and the beautiful lass out to get Arbaaz Khan. Anjala Jhaveri, the girl from London made her debut with the talented Akshaye Khanna in 'Himalayputra'. She didn't exactly make waves in the industry then. But is certainly making her presence felt since 'Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya'. Nazara.com chatted up with her recently on her further course of action in her career.
Tell us something about your life in London?
I was born and brought up in London. I did my schooling and college there. I also worked for a while before films happened.
What kind of a child were you?
I was quite a mischievous one. Maybe not that mischievous also. My parents are pretty conservative. I have got an elder sister and a younger brother. I used to do my own thing and get away with it as well. That was the good part. We used to come to India for holidays. It was because of these trips to India that has helped me realize my passion. Earlier it was just limited to my relative's houses. So this time (for acting) coming to India was a lot different for me.
What about your educational background?
I have done my A-levels. I was just about to start my university in Medicine (wow!), my medical degree when acting happened. I had got my grades, my placement and I was also working as an optical advisor. So everyone thought I would do my optometry or medicine.
So when did the acting bug bite you?
It was in the back of mind to be in films since I was a little girl. I used to watch a lot of Hindi movies. Sometimes the little brain says I want to become an actress. That was always there. But I never gave it much importance. My education was my main priority at that time. But then when this (Himalayputra) landed in my lap.. priorities changed. I put education in a standstill and came here. It's like a bug. You work and you are addicted.
And when did the bug finally claim you?
Well it was just after I finished my exams, my training had started and I had got my job. It was at that time that Vinod Khanna came to London with this competition thing looking for a debutante for his film. I was among the 1500-2000 applicants of Asian girls around England. I had done a photo session in Black and White with a modeling agency. They sent my photos across. And before I knew it, I was there in the competition. I got selected in the first day audition. They were about 16 models sporting short hairstyles and skirts. Compared to them, I was wearing a long skirt and I thought to myself that I would never be able to do this. (Exclaimed) I got selected! I was asked to wait. I told them (Vinod and Kavitha Khanna) that, "Look sir, I have got my own things planned out". Then he (Vinod Khanna) said don't go away you are short-listed. Then after that I met Vinod Khanna frequently. I even made a video for him. Within ten days, my whole life changed. I dropped my education. I thought to myself that if the movie would take up one year, as the original plan was then I would have enough time to test waters in the film industry. If it wasn't what I wanted then I could always go back to my studies and medicine. I dropped my job and left everything to a standstill in England. Till then, all I had thought about was being a doctor..study..study.
Describe your first meeting with Vinod Khanna?
I was very much in awe of him. I used to think to myself that yes I am talking to 'the Vinod Khanna'. But most of the times when I was sitting with him, he would be interviewing another girl. But during the shooting for 'Himalayputra', I got used to the hype and the aura around him. Then I would see others coming up to me and saying; "Oh how great, you are actually working with Vinod Khanna". But at that time it was a high in itself.
Did you have to do a lot of adjusting since coming to India?
Ahmmm. I made friends. Coming to India was not a problem. But since Himalayputra was hyped a lot, everybody wanted to get to know us. At that time, I made a few acquaintances. Also culture shock wise no there was no problem because I had come here before. But I must admit that when I came to India to do films, obviously then I began to take in the lifestyle that is very different from what I had been used to. But now I have made a few good friends and I am settled now in Mumbai. I have got my own place now. The mental insecurity was there. I missed home a lot. Many things were playing on my mind. One was that I had come for a film. A new start. A new career. The other was the excitement of starting afresh without the near or dear ones near you. It took a little getting used to.
What was your family's reaction when you announced about your plans to join films. Since they are conservative, were they angry?
My father was angry when he first heard it. Even now he is not that happy with the way things are going. But my mom was a little considerate. She said, "Agar isko yahi karna hai yehi sahi". Let her put her mind and do what ever she wants to do. Dad's now ok about it. My parents have been quite supportive that way. They said to me, "If you really want to do this then let this be. If this is how its going to be then let it take its own course.
Did you ever perceive that you would be an actress any day?
No I didn't. It was something that came on suddenly. It just happened.
Your first screen test, how did you fare?
Actually it wasn't even a proper screen test. Vinodji just took me face on. It wasn't even a one to one auditioning. We (the applicants) stood around Vinod Khanna and his wife Kavita in a semi circle. Questions were thrown at a random to all the participants. I didn't even answer anything because they didn't ask me. I was so surprised when he came up to me and said "Have you got more photographs that I can have?" I was zapped. So you see it just sort of happened. I hadn't planned on it at all. As far as I was concerned it was just that it was twist of fate. For all you know I would have been married by now (!!!).
Your first experience in front of the camera. How did you cope with the pressures?
Actually I didn't do much on the first day. In fact, on that day, I only did my make up. There was another girl in the movie. And the scenes were apparently between her and Akshaye. My entry was at the end of the scene. I remember that all day I was just drinking cups of coffee, watching them shoot. All day I was on the sets, but I didn't face the camera at all on my first day. When I came down to Mumbai, I had a training a quick crash course in acting. It was for a month and a half in the acting class was of Kishore Namit Kapoor. From there, I took it up.
How was the experience working with Akshaye Khanna?
Very good. He was very confident in what he was doing. So watching him doing it with such fervor inspired me to do my best. It used to give that extra kick. People have said that he is very moody. But I got on very well with him. He is very good in his work. No one can deny him with the talent that he's got. And when we worked together, it was not in competition of each other. It was a very relaxed atmosphere.
Your next film 'Betaabi' didn't do too well?
Ya. Actually it started out like this. According to the contract, I was not allowed to sign any new films until 'Himalayputra', which was a disadvantage of sorts because if I were working on in other films as well, I would have had better experience at choosing good scripts. But I wasn't allowed to. Hence, when 'Betaabi' was offered to me, I took it. I listened to the story and I was plainly confused. I thought to myself ok chalta hai, lets do it. Also the hype of the 'Tere Mere Sapne' was prevalent at that time. Unfortunately, it didn't too well. But in that film, I was freer than Himalayputra. I could do my own thing. The pressures were not there. I felt that I had not come under anybody's patronage. I was chosen as an artist by a production. It was a boost to my confidence. At the same time, I was quite scared because it was new unit. I had a lot of fun in that film.
How did you land up in the cast of 'Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya'?
Pyar Kiya came my way much later. Probably what attracted me to doing the film was the star cast. My role when it was narrated to me was quite nice. It had an impact of its own. So I took up the film. Unfortunately, during shooting we realized how miniscule my role turned out to be. Obviously Kajol was the central character. The story slightly changed. My scenes were cut which upset me a little bit because in the movie, I didn't have so many scenes which if cut wouldn't have made a difference. So obviously, when they did get cut, it made my role appear very small to the point that it didn't have any significance in the movie. The song did well. But over all, the film didn't do as much for me as it could have.
You have also done some south Indian films, haven't you?
Ya. I have done four South films. I have done with Venkatesh, one with Balkrishna, one with Chiranjeevi and one with Nagarjuna which is due for release shortly. All of them have been major hits. Actually, I have a tag on me right now of a lucky mascot. I have had good roles to do in these movies. Unfortunately, this was not the case with the Hindi films.
What do you think is the reason for you not doing well in Hindi?
I guessMaybe I have not worked with the right directors who would have taken out the best in me. But I am trying to get good films now.
How are you going to make sure?
Well.. To start with I am not picking up work that doesn't excite me. I am getting offers in Hindi as well as from the South. I 've got talks going on in a couple of places. I don't have any Hindi film on the floor right now because what I am being offered is not what I want to do.
What was the atmosphere like working down south? What is the difference from that of Hindi cinema?
There is not much difference as opposed to the film making process. In south, there is a lot of professionalism involved. Work starts at the specified time not a minute here or there. I do one South film at a time. There is this rumor going on that I have gone on to the South and become another Nagma of the industry. But it's not true. A south film takes averagely about five months to be made. So I am ten to twelve days out of town in a month. I have been traveling a lot due to this. But I have enjoyed working in the South very much and the atmosphere is great. With all due respect, I have got my fame and money only from the South Indian films.
How did you manage with the language?
It is a handicap, I agree. One relief is that I have only done Telugu movies up till now. It is a major handicap. Many people have advised me to learn Telugu. But I felt that let me learn to speak Hindi properly first and then probably I can try Telugu. For me, English is the first language; Gujrati is my mother tongue, and then comes Hindi..then perhaps Telugu. Forget it, I don' t think I can do it very soon.
Then how have you done it so far?
I do it by memory. They give me the dialogues and I memorize them. If they were very long dialogues then I would get prompted. If it is a close up then I speak in Telugu. If it's a long shot then I speak in Hindi. It's worked for me till now so it's great. But as I said before I need good directors so even when the language is a handicap, I can overcome that. I would rather do no work than bad work.
What did you learn from the established actors like Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, etc.?
It was pretty cool. It was a back slapping kind of relationship. I have become so much more confident in my acting now. I am choosy..selective in what I pick up in Hindi. After Pyar Kiya, I know that what comes next has to have an impact otherwise its not going to be worth it. I don't want something of the run of the mill kind to come out. The way my make-ups done is improved. Working in South has been like an experiment for me as well.
Who are the directors you would prefer working with?
Directors such as Yash Chopra, Subhash Ghai, Kundan Shah, Raj Kanwar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Karan Johar, Aditya Chopra. I want to work with all of them.
What kind of actress would you say you are?
A director's actress. I want my little finger to be held, I have to be guided through the film completely. Otherwise, I would get very lost. With the experience in South, I can safely say that I need to be told what happened in the scene before, what is happening in the scene ahead. What the shot is. In 'Himalayputra', every two months the story was changed. So when the script was given in my hand, I never used to know what is happening in the movie that I want to avoid now. So that element which I got to do in the South is missing in the Hindi films.
Your all-time favorite films?
Definitely, 'Amar Akbar Anthony', 'Muqaddar ka Sikandar', 'Don' and all of Amitabh Bachchan's films. I am a major Amitabh Bachchan fan.
Your dreams, aspirations for the future?
I have always had this notion that probably, nothing is happening now, but I have been brought from England to become an actress. So I guess destiny must have something in store for me then. Everyone's turn comes. My day will come too.
Your dream role?
I would like to do Rekha's role in 'Umrao Jaan' or 'Pakeezah' or the one that Rekha did in 'Muqaddar ka Sikandar'.
Your message to Nazara.com fans.
I always say this one line to whomever I meet.. 'Go towards the sun and the shadow will follow you'. Have a positive attitude ..keep on trying and things will happen to you.
Thank you Anjala for sharing with us your thoughts and dreams