Given your age, and, given you’re married and have kids, would you do a role that is very sexual, erotic or built around a woman’s sexuality?
I just cannot say “Yes” or “No” to that because I need to know what the script is, what the treatment is, what the director’s wanting and how he’s going to treat the whole subject. I just cannot say “Yes” or “No” just because you’re asking me a question – but I would definitely give it a listen. I would hear it, and then my aesthetics come in. And I would be like, “Hmm, maybe not now” or whatever.
Do you think that’s liberating as well? That an older woman can be seen as sexual, sensual and sexy?
I don’t perceive age as in ‘age’ per se, but I think your talent is what you are at any age. whether you’re 16 or 20 or 30, your talent is not going to go away and that’s something you will always have. For me, that is very important than just the age factor. Everybody’s talking about age and aging; but I think it’s what you can bring on – at any age, with your talent. Age is just a number.
You’re one of MF Husain’s most famous muses. His demise was a great tragedy and he was mourned by many as a loss to the nation. It was perhaps a greater loss that he died in exile from his own land. What are your views on his death and on the attacks he faced?
I think there will be extreme people in the world. There’s nothing you can do about that. But he(MF Husain) as a person was very nice. He was a genuine well-wisher of mine, so when he passed away, I really felt the loss, because he genuinely wished me well and (I felt) the same for him. He was a maverick – I just looked at him and said, ‘Gosh, I wish I could be like this at 95 – still going.” That was what was wonderful about him. Like the age factor I was talking about. Talent is talent, at whatever age.
Remo D’Souza, choreographer and Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa judge, said that young people don’t want to learn Indian classical dance any more and want to learn western dance. And yet, your mother was not allowed to learn dance?
Yes, she (my mom) was growing up at a time when dance was like, a no-no: A girl from a good family doesn’t dance. She was allowed to sing, though. She learned Hindustani classical music, but she was never allowed to dance. So when she was growing up, she was very clear that, “When I have kids, I have daughters, I’m going to teach them dancing, I’m going to make sure they know how to dance.”
It seems ironic that now when dance is considered great and people are excited about competing in shows like Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, they are are not interested in Indian classical dance…
The thing with classical dancing is, it needs a lot of practice, it takes time to learn. You cannot just go to a class for three months and say, “I’ve learnt it,” because it’s never ending. Even today I can’t say, “I’ve learnt how to dance Kathak,” because there’s so much innovation you can do with whatever you know, there are so many things you can do with whatever you know.
Today, kids have lesser patience, they want to do things really fast, overnight. I would say (to them), our classical dances are beautiful, they’re so rich in culture, that they should just try and learn. Have a little bit of patience, and they can do so much more.