EXCLUSIVE STATEMENT! Manisha Koirala: Actors I worked with are romancing 20-year-olds but when a woman crosses 40, it’s a mother’s role

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Sanju releases this Friday and the excitement is getting a little too much to bear. Ranbir Kapoor has stepped into Sanjay Dutt’s shoes to tell us how he went through so many upheavals in his life. But one other thing that has got us really excited about the film is to watch Manisha Koirala again on the big screen. She plays the role of Nargis Dutt in the film. It’s amazing how she looks so similar to the late actress. Rajkumar Hirani definitely managed to get a great cast for the film. In a freewheeling chat with BollywoodLife, Manisha opened up about Sanju, Sanjay Dutt, the disparity in the way male and female actors are treated in the industry and much more. Read the full interview right here…

Did Sanjay Dutt tell you anything when you confirmed to play the role of his mother in Sanju?

No, he didn’t tell me anything. I was shooting with him when the posters came out. I was shooting for Prasthanam. He loved it and he felt that there are a lot of resemblances.

Emphasis has been laid a bit more on the father-son bonding in Sanju but we all know, Sanjay Dutt was the closest to his mom. How much of that will be dwelled upon in the film?

This movie actually deals with the time when troubles started in his life. It was towards the last leg of Nargis Dutt ji’s life. I am there but it deals more with father-son, friends and things like that.

If a biopic on Nargis Dutt is made, would you be interested to play the central character?

I would love to, I think she was a very strong woman a lot of dignity and gracefulness in her.

Biopics have become the buzzword lately. What are your thoughts on it?

It all depends on… when you make a film, the story has to be interesting. It has to make you laugh, should make you cry. There should be a certain graph of highs and lows. Only if the story is good, you can make a film. I would say just because it’s a fad to make a biopic, you can’t just pick up anybody and make a film on that person.

What is that one thing you feel was better in the ’90s than now and vice versa?

Good in the ’90s were few. Amongst them was, stress levels were not so high. The audience was forgiving. So we had it comparatively easy. Today stress levels are very high. Everybody wants to give their 100 percent. So I can understand where they are at. Everything they are doing is pre-planned and calculated because stakes are high. There are a zillion other talented young people coming in. Competitiveness is also high. What happens with these things is your quality also improves. I feel in terms of quality today times are better than our time. We did a lot of melodramatic films, but today it’s more realistic, more on the dot… measured performance, correct performance. With a lot of exposure to web series, multiplexes, the audience has got a taste of broader genre of cinema. They are not limited to a certain Bollywood style as it was before.

But even then there is a lot of disparity in the way industry treats female and male actors. The actors you have worked with in the ’90s are still playing the lead characters, whereas not the same is true for the females. What do you think is the issue here?

Some of us started our families and got slightly deviated and came back to work now. It has taken a little bit of adjustment and time. For male actors, the focus has been continuously acting. The other factor is… well, I don’t know. Honestly speaking, the actors that I worked with are romancing 20-year-olds now but suddenly when you cross 40, for a woman, it’s a mother’s role. This is something I am not able to accept or understand. But maybe in times to come, more content for females beyond the ’40s as well will be made. I guess that will take time and maybe eventually it will change.

You are getting a lot of appreciation for your role in Lust Stories. What was that one compliment that you really liked?

I was very surprised by the praises. I was ducking… ‘oh I did this film, how are people going to react’. You know I am old school. I wasn’t sure. But I was happy and surprised. I hadn’t even met Dibakar (Banerjee), I was shooting for Prasthanam and he was here. We met at the celebrations party and he asked me, “Do you know what Shabana Ji (Azmi) said about your performance?” She said Manisha has changed the idiom of acting. I said Dibakar I didn’t even know there is an idiom of acting. I didn’t realize this kind of appreciation will come. I was actually very nervous. I was pleasantly surprised.

This is obviously a new medium for you… did you take to it immediately?

I take time to adjust to anything new. I was very nervous and apprehensive. I am a very early morning person. I sleep at 10’clock. Here Dibakar had a story of the whole night. We were shooting only at night. I was very apprehensive about how I will look. But the amazing thing about today’s time is nobody once mentioned ‘oh Manisha, your wrinkles are showing’. And even if somebody did, others would be ‘So what?’ It’s the age… the character. This is the magic of today. They accept. There is more inclusiveness. At least that’s a start.

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