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The actor in me has not died and the urge to face the camera is still there in me

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FARIDA JALAL

FARIDA JALAL tells JYOTHI VENKATESH in this intimate telephonic exclusive interview for Mayapuri where she recollects with fondness her experience of having worked in Aditya Chopra’s directorial debut film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge twenty five years back.

“I am extremely happy that this is the 25th year since 1995 when the film DIlwale Dulhania Le Jayenge was released all over the world. The film , believe it or not, I am told was made on a budget of just 4 crores but it collected a staggering 89 cr in India alone and 13.5 cr abroad and the total collections stood at 102.50 cr worldwide in 1995. It was indeed a wonderful experience to be part of a well written film like DDLJ with which Yashji’s son Adi had made his debut as a director.”

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Incidentally Faridaji was shooting for Boney Kapoor’s film Loafer with Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla besides Farida Jalal in Hyderabad when Yashji called her up to tell that his son Adi wanted to make his debut as a director and was keen on casting Farida Jalal as Kajol’s mother and Amrish Puri’s wife in the film. He wanted to ask her when he could send his son Adi to narrate to her the subject of DDLJ as he wanted to cast her in a pivotal role as the wife of Amrish Puri in the film.’

I was staying at Hotel Taj Banjara in Hyderabad then and told Yashji that my pack up had already been announced that day and I was alls et to leave for Mumbai in the morning and hence I told him I would meet Adi in Mumbai itself at their office. At that time the YRF Studios had not been constructed and Yashji was shooting for his films only at RajKamal Studios in Parel.”

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

“When I met Adi in Mumbai, I was zapped by the involvement with whch he narrated the subject to me. Each and every costume and lyrics of the film had his own personal touch and every situation was proper to the scene. The best thing I should say about Adi was that whatever he had narrated was on c celluloid as per his narration and no scene was either added or deleted and what’s more Adi continued to be the director till the film was completed.

We all knew that he was making a cult film but frankly we never expected that the film would conquer the box office all over the word in such a big way and run for over 1200 weeks in the same theatre.”

Farida Jalal continues. “I had not 100% but 110 % intuition that Adi was going to emerge as a big time director in Bollywood the way he was painstakingly canning each and every shot of his film but the biggest irony is that after working in a iconic film like DDLJ twenty five years back with mew, Adi who is a very shy and reticent lad has still not asked me to be part of any of his films after that.

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I should say that I am happy that both Adi and Karan Johar have made their respective fathers Yaashji Chopra and Yashji Johar very proud. Though Yashji had asked me to be part of his film Dil To Paagal Hai and I have not stepped into YRF studio for shooting any film after I had acted in both DDLJ and Dil To Paagal Hai.”

“My heart bleeds whenever I pass by Rajkamal Studios to see the studio having been tured into building complexes. What has happened to Mehboob Studios? The grandeur it had in the past is no longer there. The boys Adi and Karan ought to be given a pat on their backs for having done what they have done. Immediately after DDLJ I worked with Dil To Pagal Hai as Akshay Kumar’s mother. The day Adi feels that I suit any particular role that he has in his knd, I’d be ready to be part of his vision.”

Farida laments that she finds it so disheartening that no one is writing a good mother’s role nowadays like they used to write in the 60’s and 70’s for actors like Nargis and Meena Kumari anymore.”The last film in which I had played the mother was Jawaani Jaan E Man in which Saif Ali Khan played my son. I have had to turn down many films because I was not happy with the way the role of the mother had been conceived

Ironically, after she had worked with Karan Johar in DDLJ, Karan had asked her to act in films like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai with which he himself had made his debut as a director. It was followed by Yash Johar’s Duplicate and also Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham.I knew that I would not be called to be a part of Kal Ho Na Ho because Jaya was playing the daughter in law in the film and I could not play Jaya’s mother in law.”

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Karan did call her to work in his film The Student of The Year. Talking with fondness about Karan, Farida says that out of the blue Karan himself had called her up one fine day when he wanted to cast her in his film The Student of The Year, because he felt that if his director Puneet Malhotra had directly called up her to offer her the role, Faridaji would have been offended.

Karan had written the film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai very beautifully. He had written the lines and was dedicated to the film when he set out to make his debut as a director with the film. I am extremely proud and glad that both the boys Adi and Karan made their debuts with films starring me.”

Faridaji says frankly that she loved Karan as a director in My Name is Khan in which he was outstanding. “Like Adi could not outdo what he had done in DDLJ till date, I think Karan also has not been able to outdo what he had done in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. As an actor, Faridaji frankly says that ever since the lockdown was imposed, she has not been able to face the camera at all this year but is open to do good work provided directors approach her with meaty offers. The actor in me has not died and the urge to face the camera is very dominant in actors though I have been part of over 200 films in a span consisting of over five decades.

Faridaji signs off by frankly confessing that filmmaking and the mahoul have changed over the last several decades and there is no ‘apnapan’ the way it used to be earlier since she had made her debut in films way back in the 60’s, tanks to the emergence if the social media. I continue to live with my only son and have no regrets at all the way my career has shaped over the last five decades.”