The diva talks about juggling motherhood with films, her willingness to attempt new roles and working with her 1990s arch-rival, Juhi Chawla.

Is Gulaab Gang a more commercial version of your 1997 film, Mrityudand?

No, not at all. In Mrityudand, I played an educated girl who marries into a feudal family but rebels against the inequality and discovers her own inner strength. In Gulaab Gang, I play a leader who forms a gang of women vigilantes and brings justice to the oppressed. It is strong role: she is educated and believes women should be empowered. She believes education will help women and also encourage men to respect women. But this message is conveyed in a very masala way; there’s song, dance, fights and dialoguebaazi.

You are working with your 1990s rival Juhi Chawla in the film. You are known as the Dhak-dhak girl, what comes to your mind when you mention Juhi?

The word bubbly comes to my mind.

Juhi is stepping into a new zone with this film by playing the villain. Are you also game to doing a dark role?

I have set no boundaries for myself. I don’t want them. I won’t do a negative role for the heck of it; a grey role has to interest me. But I am clear — I want to do any kind of film or role that interests me.

How do you feel about the way your equation with Huma Qureshi was portrayed in Dedh Ishqiya?

What can I say? (Smiles) What I liked about Dedh Ishqiya was the ambiguity. It was your interpretation of what it is. The two women don’t want men in their lives; they lead their lives independently. They could be sisters. I liked the open-ending of the film. New sensitivities are coming to movies. Women are real people on screen. Roles which do not slot women in the regular moulds of an avenger, a victim, or eye candy, are now being written for us.

Which film, do you think, changed the game for you?

Tezaab. It was my first hit, it had the big dance sequence (Ek Do Teen) and the manner in which the romance with Anil Kapoor was portrayed was different. After my debut in Abodh I didn’t know whether I should continue doing films so I returned to college and mainly did roles like in Awaara Baap and Swati that required only 10 days of my time. After I did a song in Karma, Subhashji (Ghai) said if I stopped doing small roles, he would sign me for Ram Lakhan. I was destined to do films.

Has Bollywood changed drastically?

Discipline has seeped in, everything is so organised now. Earlier, the writer could pen the dialogues early morning. It was haphazard, now it is relaxed. You can read the script a number of times.

What about your own attitude — has it changed over time?

Earlier, when I would walk in at the sets, I wasn’t answerable to anyone. Now, I have my kids and husband and I have to manage my time accordingly. I could do things spontaneously before but now I have to plan, so I have to work harder.

How do you rate yourself in juggling personal and professional commitments?

Between 8.5 and 9. One can never be a perfect 10.

Are your kids Arin and Ryan inclined toward the performing arts like their mother?

I don’t know. As of now, they are into tennis. But they are learning tabla too.

So what’s your focus — films, your dance school or your family?

I am focusing on everything. We already have 88,000 students in my online academy, I want it to become a community for dance and dance lovers. If I get a good film, I will do it; if not, I will take a break.

Which young actress do you think can become the next Madhuri Dixit?

(Giggles) No one can be someone else; they have to make a name for themselves. But I see a lot of talent. I like Vidya Balan; Priyanka was fabulous in Barfi! In the newer lot, I like Parineeti Chopra, Anushka Sharma Sonakshi Sinha and also Alia Bhatt (whom I have seen in the trailers of Highway). Deepika Padukone is blossoming.

Courtesy: Mid-Day

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