‘I hope that my performance has improved a lot after working with Rani’ – Jaya Bachchan

When an illustrious actress like Jaya Bachchan takes up a film, one has to seriously sit up and take notice. Her first film in three years post Kal Ho Na Ho is once again a Yash Raj film – Laaga Chunari Mein Daag.


What’s interesting is that this time around it was bong connection on the sets for this Bengali actor as the film’s cast, Rani Muherjee and Konkana Sen Sharma and director Pradeep Sarkar share the same roots.


In conversation with Businessofcinema.com, Jaya Bachchan talks about her experience of working in Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, her association with the Yash Raj banner and in her own words, the lesson she learnt from Pradeep Sarkar.




For a selective actor like you, what was it about the script of Laaga… that made you do this film?

Too many factors, mainly because of the people involved – the producer, director, script, story and then the role.


Can you tell us a little bit about your character in the film?

It’s very difficult for me to tell anything, it’s better if one watches the film.


In Kal Ho Na Ho, you had to get in western gear as you played Jennifer. What about your styling in Laaga Chunari Mein Daag?

The clothes were tailored keeping the character in mind so I don’t think I can wear them otherwise because it was meant more for the mother who lives in Benaras. But what was wonderful wearing those outfits was that comfort they provided.


What is your take on the music of Laaga Chunari Mein Daag?

I like a few tracks, though my favourite is ‘Hum to aise hai bhaiya.’< Page Break >


This film also features your son Abhishekh, though he doesn’t play your son onscreen. What’s the comfort level like?

Yes. However there are other films, like a Bengali movie where he had a small role of my son. Also, in Drona I play his mother. I think there is a tremendous comfort level working with him.


With Rani, this is your first film, right?

I have never worked with Rani before. I have always considered her to be a very good artist and she is one of the most talented girls that we have today. Over the years one has seen how she has matured as an actor. I liked her very much in her first movie and was very pleasantly surprised to see a new girl, so young in her first film, giving such great performance. When you work with good artists or when you have good actors as your co-artists your performance improves a lot. There is a better standard of give and take in a scene and action-reaction. So I hope that my performance has improved a lot after working with her.


How was it working with Konkana and Kunal Kapoor?

This is my second film with Konkana after Sunglass in Bengali. In Laaga…she plays my daughter. It was easier because I started shooting for Laaga…immediately after I wrapped Sunglass, so there was continuity. It just required me to switch the language whereas the emotions stayed on. Talking about Kunal, he is a very sweet boy. I really I didn’t have a lot of scenes with him. We just had one song together because the whole unit was together. It was nice.


What impression has left director Pradeep Sarkar left on you?

Pradeep has great aesthetic eye and what I like about his aesthetics is that it is so Indian which is very endearing. Today you do not see filmmakers depicting India, Indian culture, Indian language, Indian clothes and Indian tradition the way it should be. They have become so westernized. I loved the way he does all of this with perfection. When I was working with him in Laaga…I felt I had gone 30 years back as if I was working with Hrishikesh Mukherjee or Gulzar. That’s the kind of pleasure I got.< Page Break >


With Rani, Konkana, Pradeep Sarkar and you too being a Bengali, it must have been an out-and-out Bong territory.

It is always that the captain of the ship decides the mood. Pradeep is so obviously and so obsessively Bengali that even non-Bengalis became Bengalis for the entire year while we were shooting for the film. And that includes Kunal, Abhishek and the technical unit as well.


How was it filming Laaga…in a holy place like Benaras?

It was nice, except for the fact that we took turns in the unit for falling sick. I think the bonding started with Benaras where we all clicked as a group. Later, when we met in Bombay for the shoot which was held indoors, it was like one big family getting together for a wedding.


Any fond memories of the film?

It was a happy experience and there was nothing unusual. What was interesting is that times have changed today’s film units functioning, but in Laaga… I did not feel so. However, there is one big lesson I have learnt while shooting for this film. I basically am very impatient person but while working with Pradeep, I had to utilize all the patience that I could gather as he is such a stickler that even if your hair is a little out of place it starts bothering him. But having said that I think it’s wonderful to have someone around who is so aesthetically perfect and who wants every frame to look wonderful and so real and nice.


How different was it working for Yash Raj Films a few years ago and now?

My family has worked so much with this banner that I just didn’t realize that this is only my second film with them.