By Hindustan Times
So many questions, so little time, and in a rare scenario I'm late for a meeting with Manish Koirala. Yes, she's been waiting for me since fifteen minutes. Her P.R. sends me a couple of texts and then calls me. My rickshaw driver and I battle the cows, dogs, and the many hindrances in our way.
It was 1942 A Love Story when I saw Koirala on the big screen. The year after I recall buying the ticket in black worth Rs. 500 for Bombay. Yes, I was a fan. It's 2012 now and while many female celebrities complain that their careers begin to stagnate once they reach a certain age, Manisha is perhaps the only one who can boast of living life in reverse. She was seen last year in Onir's I AM and in a few days will be seen in RGV's Bhoot 2. Experience has taught the star to be more appreciative of what she has and, at the same time, to be realistic about her life. Because of this, she can now acknowledge without being ashamed that her career is neither where sheâ??d want it to be nor how sheâ??d deserve. But that's Koirala. She is upfront and I like that about her. I reach her apartment somewhere on floor fifteen if I'm not mistaken. The door is open. I am welcomed by the P.R. and ask her in a breathless tone, â??Where is Manisha?â? A quick eye gesture, I turn and to my horror, Manisha is sitting patiently on my right and sports a smile. That's like a scene directly lifted from any RGV horror movie. I couldn't take my eyes off her. She is gorgeous. It was the first time I met her in flesh. Took me a few seconds to recap the magic this Screen Goddess has created on me since 1994. There was a mix of childlike intensity and adult passion in the way she was expressing her fondness for cinema that only goes to show that she's far from calling it quits. In this Part 1 special, I bring you Manisha Koirala's passion for cinema, her comfort zone working with RGV, why Ranbir Kapoor is the best actor today, the change in today's cinema and her â??Bhoot' stories as a teenager.
You've given more critically acclaimed performances than any actress in Hindi cinema and been awarded for them too. Today, has your passion for cinema deteriorated?
Not at all. Yes. I have been picky with my movies. But I also want to work with people that I like. It's not because one has given me a great script or a great role in the past and I would work with him. You can call me moody or weird. I'm not a bohemian now but I used to be much more before (laughs). I value my comfort zone quite a lot and will keep working with the right people only when it comes to movies.
You've worked with the greats â?? Mani Ratnam, S. Shankar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Vidhu Vinod Chopra. But what's your comfort zone with RGV?
We may not talk very often or meet very often but let me tell you, I respect him totally and adore him. It's a joy to work with him. Even in Company, he came home twice to explain me my look and attitude in the film. There is a certain kind of rapport that I share with him. During Bhoot 2, he came once to my place and explained me everything. The rest takes place on the sets. He trusts his actors tremendously. I assured him that I will be as natural as possible.
You are a thorough natural when it comes to acting. Actors like you really must be finding it difficult to fake, isn't it?
(Laughs) We fake it all the time. But thank you for the compliment. There is no trick. But once you know it, it becomes your second nature. I think Chakri is also a great actor, my co-star in Bhoot 2. He surprised me many times. One has to prepare though. Every actor prepares a scene in their own way. For me, it's about understanding the scenario, the room I'm going to be working in, the obstacles in and around the frame, etc. The basic thing is that once you know the character well, let your instincts guide you.
Now when you see movies, what changes do you observe in direction, acting, etc?
I don't watch too many films. I need to change that about myself, until it is highly recommended. During our days we used to only sing in the gardens or somewhere in Switzerland or Paris or New York (laughs). That was commercial cinema for us. But now the definition has changed. It's more realistic in nature, more believable. Today I also see small budget films accepted due to multiplexes and audience are accepting it too due to western influences. There is a scope for Paan Singh Tomar, I AM, Dev D, Gangs Of Wasseypur, Kahaani, etc. In our days such films wouldn't have got a decent release also.
You've worked with the top of the Khans â?? Aamir, SRK, Salman. When you see the younger lot of actors now, does it make you want to work with them?
Of course yes, why not? I would love to. But I'm sure I won't be playing their love interest (laughs). Whatever role I'm given, I'll lap it up, depending on how good my co-actor is. I consider Ranbir Kapoor the best actor than anybody else. I've seen the range of work that he has done, the comfort zone he brings in, etc. He is so effortless. I am a confident actor and I like his confidence too. I would love to work with the younger lot given the right script comes my way.
What stories as a child did you hear when you heard the word 'Bhoot'?
Lots of stories were told to us. I havenâ??t had any bad experience when it came to Ghost Stories. I have to tell you this â?? as a teenager I never used to see any horror films till I started acting in films. Having said that, I used to switch on the television in the middle of the night and watch horror films and till today I get scared watching them. I am not superstitious about Ghosts because nothing has happened to me so far, no horror stories that I can share with you (laughs). But on the sets, I used to scare people (laughs). I team up with my level of people and sometimes do spooky things. I've inherited this from my mother as she used to scare my neighbours by dressing up like a ghost (laughs).