Manisha Koirala and Jackie Shroff on reuniting with Prassthanam, box office 'anxiety' and future projects

Seema Sinha

Sep 21, 2019 08:56:15 IST

Prassthanam, the Hindi remake of the 2010 Telugu hit by the same name, reunites senior actors, Jackie Shroff, Sanjay Dutt and Manisha Koirala after two decades.

The trio were last seen together in 1999 action-thriller Kartoos. “It is a pleasure to be working with Jaggu (Shroff) and Sanju (Dutt). We go back a long way. It is seventh or the eighth collaboration with Sanju and I hope there are many more. It is a comfort space with him. Jackie is a family again,” says Koirala, who was last seen in Dutt’s biopic Sanju in which she played his mother Nargis. Dutt and Koirala shared screen space for the first time in Feroz Khan's Yalgaar, in 1992, and have gone on to work together in several films, like Kartoos, Khauff, Baaghi, Mehbooba and many more.

“The sole reason for me to do this movie was it is Sanju’s home production. When Maanayata (Dutt’s wife) called me to the office for narration..actually even before I was narrated I wanted to do the film. Certain decisions are made through the heart. I like being surrounded by people that love and care,” says the actress. “No, but we didn’t plan or calculate to come back together. It just happened,” she laughs.

“Though we are part of a small industry yet we don’t meet often. We have done such great films but I haven’t counted. It was a feeling of nostalgia,” says Shroff.

 Manisha Koirala and Jackie Shroff on reuniting with Prassthanam, box office anxiety and future projects

Manisha Koirala and Jackie Shroff in Prassthanam.

The critically-acclaimed actress has been part of many South films in the past, some of the prominent ones being Mani Ratnam’s Bombay and S Shankar’s Indian, and she’s happy about the lines blurring between Bollywood and South. “I have enjoyed working in South. Till date I have good bond with the actors and directors that I worked with. But at the same time it is great now that the South and North film industries are becoming one. They both are getting inspired from each other, both are complementing each other,” she says.

The story of Prassthanam (released on 20 September) revolves around family politics, where two sons of a political leader, played by Dutt, fight against each other to carry forward their father’s legacy. “I am playing Sanju’s wife. She is a silent supporter, there is a lot of turmoil and anguish that happens in her life. There is lot of confusion, and some unexpected turn of events takes place and through it all she has to bear it in dignity and silence. She is holding on to her pain and grief and trying to deal with the dilemma the family is going through. But I have played such roles in the past, so it wasn’t difficult,” says Koirala.

And the actress decided not to watch the original. “That was purely my decision to not to watch because I don’t want to get influenced by other people’s performance and their take on character. I wanted to interpret it in my own way. Looking backward and watching a film is not something I believe in. And then we had a competent director (Deva Katta). He knows his medium, he knows the story,” she says.

Similarly, Shroff, Manisha’s co-star from films like Saudagar, Agni Sakshi and Milan among others, made it a point to stay away from the original. “When I did (Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s) Devdas, had I seen Motilal’s Devdas or the other ones made later on, I wouldn’t have played Chunibhai’s part as well. I would have subconsciously picked up some style of those actors, which is a good thing, but I didn’t want to do mimicry. I wanted to give my ras, my rang, my voice, my style of Chunibhai. In Prassthanam, I wanted to play 'Badshah' in my way rather than watch how has the actor played in the Telugu version. And I am glad I didn’t watch the original one because had I watched it I would have really suffered playing the part,” says Shroff. “And then I have lot of confidence in my director and technicians and less confidence in myself. Since the director is the same for both, Telugu and Hindi, I thought he would take care of me and I shouldn’t behave crazy (laughs- out- loud),” he further adds.

Further, talking about his character, Shroff says, “I play Sanjay’s loyal guard, I speak very little, my eyes speak more. I could totally relate to my character because I strongly believe in being loyal to your friends. I have done political films before but I never understood politics, neither at home nor outside (laughs). I remained neutral and stayed happy. In this film I support Sanjay blindly. I let him do what he wants to and I follow him blindly. That is our equation in the film. Coming into power and reaching your ideologies to people, for that I am always with Sanju and his family in the film.”

He furthers, “Manisha's character takes all the trouble in her life and still takes care of the whole family," says Shroff, as he fondly remembers playing Koirala’s father-in-law in her debut, Saudagar (1991). “I played Manisha’s father-in-law in the film she made her entry into Bollywood. She is still so beautiful. She was vulnerable and delicate then and even now. Just that she has become more mature,” says Shroff sounding a bit emotional.

Koirala has been striking a balance between commercial films (SaudagarGupt, Mann, Akele Hum Akele Tum) and more offbeat ones (Khamoshi: The MusicalDil Se, Bombay, 1942: A Love Story) throughout her career. The pattern, she says will continue, but with one crucial difference, of being less impulsive and staying away from “shoddy” scripts. “Today I feel more liberated as an actor. But I am more careful of what I want to do and I am really mindful. I am far more focused than ever about whatever I choose to do. Whatever decision I take, I take it fully knowing what I am getting into, whereas earlier on I was very spontaneous and impulsive. But now I think before I take a step," she says.

And do Box office figures matter to her, does it make her anxious? “No yaar, luckily for me I am trained in a way...my backdrop is of those days where we never cared a damn about Box office. I don’t take unnecessary responsibility of things,” she laughs. Says Shroff, “I don’t worry about the Box office results, but yes, I get anxious for the producers who have invested heavily. I want them to recover their money.”  Talking about her future projects, the actress says, “I have just finished two good scripts, one is an American film and the other is Netflix. Both will release next year. There are few more in the pipeline but nothing finalised yet.”

In his career spanning over 35 years, around 250-film-old Shroff is currently in the best phase of his career. Recently seen as an antagonist in Prabhas’s Saaho, Shroff  is being consistently offered work, both, in Bollywood as well as South. “It feels good. I will continue working till the time I have strength. I am also doing a film for Vijayendra Prasad’s script who wrote Baahubali and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, then there is a film for Excel,” he says, immediately adding, “But I have always done different roles, be it playing a terrorist in Mission Kashmir, or the ‘aiyaash’ in Devdas, or a superstar in Rangeela, or even Sai Baba. At times, I did get typecast, for instance in the role of a police inspector, so much so that there used to be an inspector’s uniform in my house,” he guffaws signing off.

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Updated Date: Sep 21, 2019 08:56:15 IST