You’ve are in the news again. Your upcoming films are being talked about too. Does it feel good to be back in the spotlight?
I had to take a break to set up my production company. Managing a production house is a different ball game altogether. It’s not like signing a film and arriving on the set. The production company with my business partner Kuunal Goomer is my baby. I knew I had age, looks and talent on my side. These attributes would stay with me for some time. But the time that it would take to set up this business would not. So I broke away from my existing life to create a new one.
People are surprised that you have more than five films lined up, apart from the two that you’re producing yourself.
Having signed new films with other banners makes me feel complete. I don’t think I could have asked God for anything more. I’m fortunate that I have a business partner like Kuunal who also happens to be my best friend since the past 10 years. His presence in the office allows me to be the actress outside. He takes care of all the nitty-gritty. I’m relieved of the burden of a 1000 things that a producer needs to look into. It’s like I’m having the best of both worlds.
Is the move to film production a natural progression for an actress?
I don’t think so. A move to production takes a lot of guts because there’s a lot of money involved. It also takes brains and an education. I’m one of the highest educated actresses in the industry and am proud of that. I won’t say I am the best actress, I won’t say I am the best looking. But I’m one of the most glamorous actresses in the industry. The move to production is not a natural move for an actor/actress but it was a natural progression for Ameesha.
Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic didn’t work and Chatur Singh Two Star earned abysmal reviews. Were you disappointed at the failure of your last two films?
I’m not ashamed of any work I do. You can’t decide a film’s fate before its release. There’s no surety that your new films will be better or worse than your previous ones. You can only hope to surpass your efforts. None of us here are soothsayers or astrologers to predict what will happen because we do not have the mathematics in place. I’m proud of all my work because there’s a little heart and soul of Ameesha in all of them.
How did you react when Vikram Bhatt made several references to you and your past relationship during the release of Raaz 3D?
My reaction was good luck to him. I hoped Raaz 3D would do well. I spoke well of him when newspapers asked me about it being my story. You see, a lot of blood and sweat goes into a film. You don’t want any film to not do well. Vikram’s a lovely person. I am happy it worked out for him.
You’ve had a misfortunate run of events of late. What happened with the Valias and the Juhu flat you’d planned to buy from them?
The deal was supposed to be for two flats. We’d rented a flat for Sanchita Chatterjee, the CEO of my company. She lived in Borivali and it was difficult for her to commute for more than an hour every day. There was an understanding that I would buy another flat. But he played dirty as soon as I paid the rent for the first flat. He started saying that he wouldn’t allow film parties or visits from film folks. He started abusing film people in general. His building is adjacent to Mr Bachchan’s bungalow. He said ‘Itne saal maine Bachchan ko bhi khaak nahi diya’. I was appalled by this self-obsessed man.
That incident got you negative publicity. It must have bothered you espcially since you were making a comeback.
I never left the industry to make a comeback. Karisma Kapoor makes a comeback, Madhuri Dixit makes a comeback. Ameesha Patel never left. And negative publicity doesn’t work for anyone. When Shah Rukh slapped Shirish Kunder, it didn’t help him. But it’s a part and parcel of being in the industry. People are curious to know about our lives and a lot gets written. Being celebrities we’re made the easiest scapegoats. But I guess it’s better to be written about than not at all.
There were reports that you planned to buy an IPL team.
We were considering buying an IPL team. But Kuunal explained it wasn’t the most suitable situation in my career. For a Shah Rukh Khan to devote 150 days from his yearly calendar to the management and telecast of the IPL is okay because he’s a settled superstar. But for me to work on five movies and then be able to divert 150 days to cricket wouldn’t be the most conducive situation.
How was the experience of working with Abbas-Mustan in Race 2 after a gap of 10 years?
When Abbas bhai, Mustan bhai and Hussain bhai saw me, they gave a sweet compliment. They said, ‘Ameesha, abhi bhi Race se close-up nikalo aur Humraaz mein dalo toh chal sakta hai. We can use Race 2 footage for the Humraazpatch work. You look younger and prettier now.’ Working with someone after 10 years and getting such a compliment is special for any girl. They’ve presented me beautifully in the film.
So what’s on producer Ameesha Patel’s 2013 calendar?
We have a wonderful film lined up early next year called Desi Magic. It showcases me in a double role for the first time. This movie has offered me the most challenging role of my career so far. It’s weird I chose to do my toughest film with my own production house. What this role offers has rarely been done by any other actress on the Indian screen. I have done bold scenes, I don’t mean sexual but there is a gamut of scenes that no other actress has attempted before. We have a great team working on the film. Sanjay Gadhvi is working on the screenplay; we have Amit Mehta who’s previously writtenDon 2, we have Mehul Ata (director) who is a prominent ad film director.
Though it isn’t an item number, we’re going to be remaking the song Ek do teen from Tezaab in Desi Magic. I grew up idolising Madhuri Dixit, though I wasn’t a Hindi film buff. I had an academic upbringing and movies were a rarity. I looked up to Madhuri because I loved dancing and she’s a fantastic dancer. I don’t think I’ll ever match up to her, because she’s a Goddess.
You are an Economics graduate from a respected University. An honours student as well. In your four-year sabbatical did you ever think about going back to finance?
I was busy setting up the production house. That move stems from my education. By entering production, for the first time in my life I’m utilising my degree. There’s no place I’d rather be than here. There’s no place I fit in better than here.
You’re doing two films with Sunny Deol, Bhaiyyaji Superhit and Singh Saheb The Great. Is he your lucky charm considering that you two had your biggest hit in Gadar?
Regardless of whether the film bombs or is a hit, he’s an amazing person to work with. For me, the Deols will always be lucky. Sunny is respectful towards women. He’s unbelievably shy. You can’t believe that such a big star talks to you with his eyes lowered. His innocence is his most endearing quality. I hope I can do at least one film a year with him.
2012 has proven to be the year of actresses with Kahaani, English Vinglish and even Heroine. Is this a good time to be an actress?
Not only do you see women-oriented films like English Vinglish, Kahaani or The Dirty Picture but you also see films likeVicky Donor and Paan Singh Tomar. These films have an audience and acceptability now. People are so fed up of the stress in their lives that if you give them a good piece of entertainment, they accept it.
You had once said actresses cannot be friends. Do you still believe that?
It’s true. Why should I be a hypocrite and say ‘oh they’re my best friends’. We’re all vying for the same roles. We’re all bitching behind each other’s backs. I wouldn’t say we can’t get along though. I am here to be a professional on the set. When I don’t make friends with the heroes, why would I want to make friends with the heroines? I don’t make friends with anyone. They’re my social acquaintances. I’ve worked in many two heroine projects and I got along fine. I love Rani Mukerji. I wanted Aiyyaa to do well; I was practically doing publicity for her film. Preity Zinta and I get along famously. We’re working together in Bhaiyyaji Superhit. Actors hardly get time to spare for family and friends. I never bring my work home. I don’t read film publications. I have no interest in headlines like Saif aur Kareena ne kiya nikah. I prefer reading The Times of India or The Economic Times. I read books in my spare time. The next book I’ll start reading is 50 Shades Of Grey.