Manisha Koirala on the Dutt biopic: 'I play Nargis ji's role not Ranbir Kapoor's mother'

Seema Sinha

May,04 2017 14:38 38 IST

Manisha Koirala was the reigning queen of the box office in the 90s, recognised for her acting prowess and noted for her performances in films like, 1942 - A Love Story, Bombay, Khamoshi, Dil Se, Akele Hum Akele Tum among many others.

She's now taking rapid strides into the business where she belongs. One project of her's (besides three others which are on floor) that has garnered a lot of attention is the film that will see Ranbir Kapoor essaying the role of Bollywood's bad boy, Sanjay Dutt. The film will have a number of famous faces as part of the project, and Manisha has been roped in to play Dutt's mother, Nargis.

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Manisha Koirala will be playing the role of Nargis in the Dutt biopic. Images from News 18.

Not many know that when Manisha was approached for Dutt’s biopic, she was a bit hesitant.  It was also a déjà vu feeling for her because over two decades ago, when Mani Ratnam had sent her a proposal for Bombay, she wasn’t too sure about playing the part either. The reason was the same – in her 20s she had to play the mother of 11-year-olds, while in Dutt’s biopic, she has been approached to play the mother of  35-year-old.

“Mukesh Chhabra (casting director) who is like a little brother to me, messaged me while I was in Nepal. Soon I learnt that Raju Hirani wanted me to play Nargis ji’s part in the biopic. I was little reluctant and wondered — Ranbir Kapoor’s mom? There is just about 10 years age gap between us, and Aishwarya’s just played the romantic lead with him. How can I play the mother? But Hirani made me understand that it’s Nargis Dutt’s role and not Ranbir Kapoor’s mom’s role. I had to look from that angle.”

She continues, “Of course, I love Hirani’s cinema. He is the most envied director. I did express my concern to him but he told me not to worry about it. Mine is a special appearance as the film is not about Nargis ji, it is about Sanjay Dutt. I can’t talk much about the project. I have watched Nargis Dutt ji's films and we have done the look test. We have done the clothes, the hair, the make-up and just about everything."

While Ranbir's transformation and uncanny resemblance to Dutt has shocked everyone, Manisha is yet to start her shoot. "I met Ranbir briefly. I feel he is this generation’s best performer; he is so subtle and correct, I love his work. He is a great combination of Rishi ji and Neetu ji, and, of course, he carries the lineage of Raj Kapoor and the family. I like his body of work and I am very excited to start the project.”

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Ranbir Kapoor plays Sanjay Dutt in Rajkumar Hirani's biopic of the actor. Image from News 18.

Manisha Koirala is one of the few actresses who managed to strike a balance between commercial and parallel cinema. Looks like her stint is going to continue as she seems quite excited working with Dibakar Banerjee on Bombay Talkies 2. “I personally have always loved the cinema of Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil,  Deepti Naval...those kind of performances,” she says.

Further, talking about Dibakar’s film, she says, “There is lot of hard work and late nights but because it is all so focused, I am enjoying it. It is going to be a huge shift for me, we will be shooting mostly at night, whereas I am not a night person. I sleep by 10 pm and wake up at 4.30 – 5am. It is an effort. Just when I got my life and body back in rhythm, my job is asking me to go away from it (laughs). But I love my job, I love the kind of cinema Dibakar makes, I like his sensibility. I had a choice either to not do his film or go out of my way to do the film."

"At this age, I want to enjoy each and every aspect of film making. Today, it is not a necessity for me to work, it is a choice, it’s luxury. I want to give my 100 per cent. So I decided let me go out of my comfort zone to do what is required," she adds.