By Satish Sundaresan, Bollywood Hungama News Network
The recent days gone by were very troublesome for the lissome beauty Neetu Chandra, who, had been through hell and back (and that too for no fault of hers). She is back with a bang to the place where she truly belongs to: Bollywood! After having won hearts with her superlative performances in films like Garam Masala (in which she was both... 'Garam' as well as the 'Masala'), which was followed by the traffic-stopping performance in Traffic Signal... the lady with the most terrific smile and a personality to match is back with her latest offering 13b, a thriller of sorts. This film not just sees her being paired opposite talented R. Madhavan, but also marks the comeback of yesteryear's actress Poonam Dhillon. Man! These are reasons enough for anyone to throng to the theatres to watch 13B. Bollywood Hungama managed to catch up with Neetu Chandra, the livewire actress for an exclusive tete-a-tete. Here's what Mademoiselle Neetu had to say...
Neetu, to start with, your fans were really shocked to hear of the infamous nightmare called 'Rajshekhar '. We are so very concerned to know the status of the same.
The legal proceedings are going on. I have stopped talking about it, because it's my lawyers who are taking care of it. I am just not getting into it at all. Anyways, thanks for your concern.
We are so happy to hear that things are looking great. Now, let's actually start off this interview by asking you about your forthcoming and much awaited film 13B. There seems to be a lot of buzz about its unique title. Buzz obviously means the first step towards rumors. So, let's nip the rumors in its 'buzz-stage'...I mean... the 'bud-stage'. Why don't you tell us what's the film actually about?
All that I can say is that it's a super natural thriller and a complete family drama which the whole family can watch together. Beyond this, I cannot say anything about the film because that will have me letting the cat out of the bag. But yes... I promise that 13 B is one of the best thrillers that anyone would have ever seen.
13 B is a bilingual film (being made in Hindi and Tamil). Does that mean that we can get to her your sweet husky voice in Tamil as well?
You can 'see' me talk in Tamil, but you will not hear my voice as it has been dubbed by someone else. As a matter of fact, my co-star R. Madhavan really helped me a lot in getting the language right as I do not have any hang of the (Tamil) language. All in all, it was really fun throughout!
What's that one word or sentence that you have learnt in Tamil, which will remain with you for the rest of your life?
It has to be the name of the film 'Yaavarum Nallam' (means 'Everything is Fine'). Besides this, I have also learnt a couple of other lines such as 'Yeppadi Iruukinga?' (How are you?), 'Nalla Irukkkiya?' (Are you alright), 'Unga Peyar Yenna?' (What's your name?)...The whole Tamil experience is quite cool in itself.
Universally, the number '13' is considered to be an unlucky number (esp. in Bollywood). So, what made you sign this film? As we got to know that if you were number 13 in a queue, you used to either move back or step forward. Correct me if I am wrong!
You are absolutely right about the queue part of it. But then, that used to happen when I was a kid yaar! Those times, I was really very superstitious. But then, as I grew up, I forgot all about these superstitions. But, let me also tell you that after doing this film, I have again become superstitious, especially about the number 13!
There's a slight confusion about the film's title. As per our knowledge, the film was earlier titled as Flat No. 13-B Sab Khairiyat Hain, but later was renamed as Channel. And now, back to 13B. Help!
All that I know is that Channel was the working title. As far as Sab Khairiyat Hain is concerned, I believe that they (the film makers) were only trying to translate the Tamil title in Hindi, before zeroing down on the final title as 13B. That's all! I hope that have solved all the confusions.
Neetu Chandra The film has you and Maddy moving into a new house '13 B'. Will you ever do so in real life?
Ya...why not! I am a very positive person. I do not see any problem in doing that in real life. Why to blame a mere number, but still, I will be very careful before moving into such house! (laughs)
How was it working with your co-star R. Madhavan, who is popularly known as the Tom Cruise of South India?
It's only needless to say that Maddy is not just a great person to be with, but also a great actor. He is a fantastic and superb co-star. I would love to work with him again and again. He is extraordinarily down to earth, very co-operative and helpful. To top it all, he has got an infectiously great smile, on which, I am sure that all the girls get charmed, swooned and swayed by...so am I (blushes)!!!
13B also sees the comeback of the graciously gorgeous Poonam Dhillon. We believe that she plays my mother-in-law, whom you quite lovingly call your 'Mom'. Right?
Yaar, Poonamji is so very beautiful even at this age...Touch Wood! She takes care of me as a mother. It was simply amazing working with her. I strongly feel that she should have made her comeback in films quite some time back. But I really don't know why she didn't. Let me tell you that she is one of THE most gorgeous and classiest people whom I have ever met in my life! She was so very helpful when it came to me learning my dialogues (esp. in Tamil).
13 B centers around a TV programme. In real life, do you watch TV? Are you one of those zillion addicts of the never-ending 'saas-bahu' sagas?
(Laughs). Actually I am not a TV freak as my profession does not give me that kind of time to sit before the TV and watch programmes. But a good TV show is always welcome. These days, one gets to see a lot of good reality shows which actually does it for me. My kind of T.V. programme will be something as real as like 'Khatron Ke Khiladi'.
All of the spooky films made in the past have got its directors and crew experiencing some or the other strange experiences whilst shooting for the same. Did you experience any such things during the shoot of the film?
Throughout the film, we did encounter lots of spooky experiences. But what will always remain memorable in my mind was the day when we were shooting for a certain lightning sequence in the night, where all the people were supposed to be there. Even after the shot was through, no one came out. I kept on calling out for everyone, but nobody came out. I was so very scared. I can never ever forget this incident.
We bet that there should be more such things...
Hmmmm...yaa... For some strange reason, we just couldn't shoot at 1300 hours (1'o clock). We also were very careful about shooting on the 13th, as lots of things were just not happening in that day as per planned. No matter what we did...we just could not shoot!
Was there a pandit or a Vaastu person around on the sets to 'balance' the effects of 13?
Yes, my director had approached some pandit to perform a pooja to avoid any untoward incidents on the sets.
How was it to work with Vikram Kumar, the director?
He is simply a great director. Besides being the director, he also happens to be the writer of the film. Trust me when I say that I have never seen such an original script ever in my life. Over and above everything, the execution of the film was done in a real superlative manner!
How has the music of the film shaped up? What's your favourite song?
All the songs are superb. But there's one song which goes as 'Aasmaan...' which one has to see it to believe it. The way the director has presented me and this song is simply unbelievable.
The website of the film is offering cash reward of a whopping Rs. 1 lakh for someone with the spookiest experience in real life. We may not be able to offer you that much, but we will surely like to know that has Neetu Chandra been spooked in real life?
If you offer me Rs. 2 lakhs, only then I will tell you! (laughs heartily)
Bihari men like Shatrughan Sinha, Manoj Bajpai and Shekhar Suman have been ruling the Bollywood roost for quite sometime now. How does it feel to be Bihar's only girl in Bollywood?
The way they ruled, I am also going to rule Bollywood too. The fact is that there are a lot of girls from my state (Bihar) who have been working in the technical department for quite sometime now and have been really successful in that. And as far as acting and being in front of the Bollywood camera is concerned, I am really happy that I am the first one to do so. And I really do not mind being a role model for other girls to achieve this feat.
Deepika Padukone's stunts were quite appreciated in CC2C. When will we get to see Neetu Chandra, Taek-Won-Do's Black Belt wonder girl, winning the cine goers' hearts with her real life stunts?
Whenever I get the right script, I surely will do.
Neetu, now tell us, what's the status of the first-of-its-kind 3D mobile game 'Neetu - The Alien Killer Game Story: 3000 AD', where you play the lead character? How has been the response to that?
The response to the game has been really very encouraging. It's really doing very well in the market and the makers have also sent it for an award.
What's your all time favourite horror film in Bollywood and Hollywood?
In Bollywood, it has to be RGV's Bhoot for sure. As far as Hollywood is concerned, there are so many of them!
In 2003, you received the Best Student Award for Sports and Academics by the then Prime Minister of India. How does it feel when you look back?
Frankly speaking, I am looking forward for more such awards now. That was just the starting; all that I can say is that God has been really very kind to me.
Not many people know that Madhur Bhandarkar had offered you Konkona's role in Traffic Signal. Right?
He had actually offered me both the roles. And since it was the starting of my career, I really wanted to do the role that I did in the film.
Besides 13 B, what are the other films that are keeping you busy?
I have five releases this year. There is Mumbai Cutting, a film with Vipul Shah, Raj Kanwar besides a couple of others.
Lastly, do you know that Lara Dutta is doing an item song in Rajasekhar's film Satyameva Jayathe.
It's the same song of Khaki that has been dubbed in the film. As far as Lara is concerned, all that I can say is that she is a great dancer, besides being an amazing actress.