After touring the lovely setup, where a gritty Mumbai street has been re-created for the day’s interviews at Yash Raj Studio, I wait to interview the stars of the YRF film, Lafangey Parindey, Deepika Padukone and Neil Nitin Mukesh.
Mukesh arrives first so I decide to start interviewing him. Padukone turns up a few minutes later and insists on joining the interview as she wants to give moral support to Neil. So I end up interviewing them together…
Over the next half hour as they discuss the film the duo display an easy rapport and chemistry, both teasing and complimenting each other.
Read on for excerpts…
Tell us what Lafangey Parindey is all about?
Deepika: The film is about dreams, having a vision, it’s about getting out of the world you are in and achieving more personally and professionally.
Neil: This film is a love story and also about what is around us and what we’ve shut our eyes at.
What kind of characters do you both play in the film?
Neil: I play the character of a typical Mumbai boy who speaks the typical Mumbai lingo called Nandan Kamtekar also known as One Shot Nandu in the boxing ring.
Deepika: My character’s name in the film is Pinky Palkar and I play a blind Maharashtrian girl in the film.
How difficult was it for both of you to pick up the language since both of you are not Maharashtrians?
Deepika: I picked up a lot of Marathi from my maid and since I also already know Konkani it was easy for me to pick up Marathi. (Points to Neil) He’s the Punjabi munda, he had difficulty picking up the language!
Neil: Yes I had to work really hard on my language, even though it was not difficult for me to pick up that kind of body language and the biker attitude, since I am a townie and a lot of these bikers exist here and I’ve observed them. There has also been an incident when a biker has rammed into my car and here I am playing a similar character.
Deepika, how difficult was it for you to play a blind girl and get the nuances right?
Deepika: (laughs) I really don’t know if I have got the nuances right, once the film releases we’ll come to know.
Neil: She has done a great job. In the sense, it’s easy for someone to close their eyes and just act but for a normal person, who can see, to act blind keeping their eyes open is a difficult thing to do and she’s very convincing in the film.
Besides playing a blind girl, you also play a skater in the film, how did you prepare for this role, did you got through some special training?
Deepika: I met blind people, spent time interacting with them. I had to train for skating because I had never skated in my life. It’s strange that I play a lot of other sports but I don’t know why my mom never taught me skating! I hurt myself many times while learning to skate. Of all the films that I’ve done till now, this has been challenging, mentally, physically and emotionally. It has taught me to be more aware and responsible.
Neil you have a very sweet, boy next door, a chocolate hero kind of face, how difficult was it for you to play a rugged, rough and tough man?
Neil: Yes that was a challenge! It was difficult; I trained for almost six months on my body language and actions. I give full credit to the writer for the kind of roles he has written for us.
Deepika: Yes! He’s so fair and good looking that at first I refused to believe that he could pull off the role. When Adi first told me that Neil would be playing that character, I wasn’t so sure he could do it, but he has proved us wrong.
This is your first film together, how has the experience been working with each other?
Deepika: He’s been a wonderful co-star. He’s a supportive and encouraging co- star. Even on days when he was not required for shoot , he would be there just to give me moral support. I think I’ve made a friend for life. He’s a great person.
Neil: (blushes… his very fair face suddenly turns all red!) Well thank you! I am glad you think that way about me! I will talk about Deepika as a person. She is very pretty, as we all know and so does she, that’s why she takes just ten minutes to get ready, she is very confident about the way she looks. She has a pure heart. Her smile sets everything straight. She is one of my bestest friends and a very important part of my family. I am very protective about her. As an actor I feel she’s really grown and for me, as an audience, this is one of her best performances. Working with Deepika has been bliss.
According to you how important is this kind of friendship for a film?
Neil: This kind of friendship and comfort level is important because the chemistry shows in the film. It makes working together much easier.
Deepika: I second that!
Both of you started your career around the same time and while Deepika has done almost eight films and has worked with some of the seasoned actors, Neil is relatively new with around three films. Also, Deepika has about five releases this year while Neil has just one. What do both of you have to say on that?
Deepika: Yes, I might have done more films than Neil but in terms of knowledge and experience he is ready to direct! He knows so much about films, he has been an assistant director and has been a part of cinema for a long time. He has a lot of knowledge about all the aspects of film making be it camera angles, lighting, makeup etc. As far as my releases this year go, it’s not in my hands.
Neil: Yes we both started our careers around the same time but I started eight months before her so she’s my junior! Jokes apart, I started doing films when I was around four years old. I have done two films as a child actor and as far as the number of releases go, I like to do just one film a year. I believe in quality.
Deepika your career graph is growing steadily, what would you like to say about that?
Deepika: This is my eighth film and has been the most challenging one. I am hoping people will notice me. My growth happened with Love Aaj Kal, that’s when Adi saw me and decided to cast me in this film. He felt that I had grown from my first film to Love Aaj Kal and he told me he saw the hunger in me. If I am doing this film today for a big banner like Yash Raj, then I must be doing something good! I have pushed all my limits and boundaries for this film and I hope people will remember this role in future.
Neil: I think she’s become very confident. Her confidence level has really grown from her first film to now.
Deepika: all top stars like Salman, John and Akshay want to work with you what would you like to comment on that?
Neil butts in: Really? Then I am so lucky to have worked with you!
Deepika (smiles): I am doing a film with John and I’ve worked with Akshay too. I have not signed any film with Salman as yet but I too am really looking forward to working with him.
How important are hits and flops to both of you?
Deepika: There is no formula to a hit film. A hit or a flop doesn’t really matter to me as long as I know I’ve given it my best, besides the experience of the film is more important to me than the fate of the film.
Neil: I agree with Deepika. Hits and flops are not in our hands. For me it’s important to do my work, give it my best and leave the rest to god.